Is Money Lending Business Profitable in Ghana?

Money lending business, also known as microfinance or microlending, has become an important sector in Ghana’s financial services industry. Ghana has seen rapid growth in money lending over the past decade, with over 700 microfinance companies currently operating in the country.

Money lending provides small, short-term loans to individuals and small businesses who cannot access credit from traditional banks. It serves an important role in providing financing to underserved segments and promoting financial inclusion.

Some key facts about money lending in Ghana:

  • Main loan products are small consumer loans, microenterprise loans, and small business loans.
  • Typical loan sizes range from 100 to 5,000 GHS.
  • Interest rates are generally high, ranging from 25-50% APR on average.
  • Majority of borrowers are microenterprises, traders, farmers, and low-income households.
  • Industry is dominated by private money lending companies and microfinance institutions (MFIs).
  • Market estimated to be serving over 3 million borrowers and a loan portfolio over 5 billion GHS.

With a large underbanked population and growing MSME sector, there is significant room for growth and opportunities for lenders to lend to the unserved profitably. However, the business also comes with risks and regulations.

Key Takeaways

  • Money lending provides small, short-term loans and is an important source of financing for Ghana’s large unbanked population.
  • The industry has high growth potential with over 3 million existing borrowers.
  • Lenders can charge high interest rates averaging 25-50% and attain healthy returns.
  • However, high default risk, competition and operating costs pose challenges.
  • Achieving scale, prudent operations and risk management are vital for profitability.
  • Licensing, minimum capital requirements and regulations govern lenders.
  • Various business models exist including consumer lending, microfinance, SME finance, payroll lending and online lending.
  • Technology, partnerships and best practices can enable a lending business to grow successfully.

Regulations and legal requirements for money lending in Ghana

Money lending businesses in Ghana are regulated under the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Act, 2008 (Act 774) by the Bank of Ghana. Firms must obtain a license and meet minimum capital requirements to operate legally.


  • To legally lend money, businesses must obtain a money lending license from the Bank of Ghana. This includes both companies and individuals.
  • The license must be renewed annually for a fee.
  • To qualify, lenders must be registered as a limited liability company in Ghana, have a physical office location, meet minimum capital requirements, and submit required documents.

Minimum Capital Requirements

  • Minimum capital required depends on type of license:
  • Microfinance license – GHS 500,000 minimum paid up capital
  • Money Lending license – GHS 300,000 minimum paid up capital
  • For money lending, 75% must be cash with the rest in fixed assets. For MFIs, 100% cash capital.
  • The minimum capital was increased in 2016 from GHS 100,000 previously.

Allowed Activities

Licensed money lenders can provide:

  • Consumer credit loans
  • Small business loans
  • Micro loans
  • Leasing
  • Discounting of invoices and other debt instruments

They are prohibited from taking deposits like a bank.

Interest Rates

  • The Bank of Ghana does not set limits on interest rates and fees.
  • Average interest rates charged range from 25-50% APR.
  • Some lenders charge very high rates exceeding 100% APR.
  • Interest rate must be displayed clearly in loan contracts.

Reporting and Compliance

To maintain license, lenders must:

  • Submit quarterly and annual financial statements, including loan portfolio data.
  • Maintain minimum capital adequacy ratio of 10%
  • Not exceed defined lending exposure limits
  • Comply with all regulations and directives issued by Bank of Ghana

Non-compliance can result in sanctions including license suspension or revocation.

Profitability factors and opportunities in money lending business

While competitive, money lending can be a profitable enterprise in Ghana if executed successfully. Here are some of the key factors that enhance profitability and opportunities in this sector.

High Interest Rates

  • The ability to charge high-interest rates in the range of 25-50% APR or more enables healthy profit margins.
  • Average portfolio yields can reach 30-50% for small consumer and business loans.
  • As an unregulated industry, lenders have flexibility in pricing.

Large Underserved Market

  • Majority of small businesses and individuals in Ghana lack access to affordable credit.
  • This huge unserved market provides ample lending opportunities. Over 3 million people are estimated to be served currently.
  • Providing loans to the unbanked is socially impactful while also being profitable.

Operational Efficiencies

  • Use of mobile and digital technology for lending allows for a reduction in operating costs.
  • Lean operations and cashless disbursement/collection improve efficiency.
  • Ability to quickly assess borrowers and make fast lending decisions.

Range of Lending Products

  • Can provide varied products – consumer loans, SME loans, microloans, lease financing, invoice factoring etc.
  • Diversified products and client segments reduces risk and increases income sources.

Scope for Growth and Expansion

  • Industry still has low penetration rates and substantial growth potential as financial inclusion rises.
  • Successful lenders can rapidly grow their portfolio and customer base to achieve economies of scale.
  • Can also expand to multiple locations within Ghana.

High Returns on Capital

  • Returns on shareholder equity can exceed 30% for profitable lenders.
  • Minimum capital requirements are relatively low (GHS 500,000 for MFI license).
  • High capital productivity compared to traditional banking.

Challenges and risks in running a money lending business

While money lending in Ghana is lucrative, it comes with inherent risks and challenges. Being aware of these and effectively managing them is key to success.

High Default and Bad Debt Expenses

  • Default rates are high, ranging from 5-15% on average for lenders.
  • Causes include poor underwriting, lack of client cash flow, and weak contract enforcement.
  • Results in write-offs and provisioning expenses that hurt profitability.

Competition from Banks and Other Lenders

  • Market has become crowded with over 500 licensed firms.
  • Banks expanding into small loan segment intensifies competition.
  • To stay competitive, may need to lower rates and relax credit standards.

Operational Overheads and Costs

  • Managing a high volume of small loans leads to sizable personnel and operating costs.
  • Investments needed in branches, IT systems, and field staff to contain costs.
  • High branch density important to acquire and serve clients.

Regulatory and Compliance Risks

  • Risk of sanctions and penalties for non-compliance with regulations.
  • Minimum capital requirements were increased substantially in 2016.
  • Maintaining liquidity and capital adequacy ratios mandatory.

Political and Governance Risks

  • Threat of stricter rate caps being implemented through legislation.
  • Potential for aggressive loan forgiveness programs during elections.
  • Regulatory changes and policies subject to political motivations.

Fraud and Security Risks

  • Cash handling and field operations expose firms to fraud by staff and others.
    -KYC documentation can be falsified or fabricated by borrowers.
    -Must invest in robust processes and security against fraud.

Negative Public Perception

  • Money lenders are seen negatively for aggressive collections, hidden fees, misleading advertising, or taking advantage of vulnerable clients.
  • Public backlash, if any, can lead to reputational damage and falling business.

Mitigating such risks requires prudent operations, management, and high ethical standards. But the high-reward nature of the business makes it an attractive prospect despite the challenges.

Types of money lending businesses and products in Ghana

A variety of business models and product offerings exist in Ghana’s money lending industry. We look at the main types.

Consumer Lending Firms

  • Provide personal cash loans from few hundred to thousands of cedis.
  • 7-30 days term commonly.
  • Target salaried employees and traders/merchants as clients.
  • Rely on Payroll deduction or cash collections for repayment.
  • Fast approval but charge very high-interest rates exceeding 100% APR.

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)

  • Offer small income-generating loans to microenterprises and self-employed.
  • Also provide consumer credit, savings, and microinsurance.
  • Average loan size up to 5000 GHS for 6-12 months tenor.
  • Interest rates lower than consumer lenders – 25-50% APR.
  • Focus on women entrepreneurs in rural areas.
  • Loans backed by solidarity group guarantees.

SME Lending Companies

  • Target small and medium enterprises needing working capital or asset financing.
  • Loan sizes from 5,000 to 500,000 GHS.
  • Collateral and cash flow-based lending terms from 6 months to 5 years.
  • Also provide invoice factoring, trade finance, and cash management services.
  • Interest rates depend on size and risk profile of the SME borrower.

Payroll Lending Firms

  • Lend to salaried employees of corporate organizations and deduct installments directly from payroll.
  • Loans up to 50% of employee’s monthly salary.
  • Offers convenience but very high effective interest rates.
  • Seen as predatory lending in some cases.

Leasing Companies

  • Offer lease financing for vehicles, equipment, machinery.
  • Cater to SMEs that cannot afford full purchase cost.
  • Ownership transfers after completing lease payments over 2-5 years.
  • Effective interest rates are high – 25-35% p.a.

Online Lenders

  • Offer quick unsecured loans via websites and mobile apps.
  • Average loan amount up to 2000 GHS for 1-6 months.
  • Attractive to tech-savvy borrowers valuing convenience.
  • Rely on algorithms and analytics for risk assessment.
  • Charge higher rates for faster approvals and no collateral.

Tips for starting and operating a profitable money lending business

Some useful tips for establishing and running a successful microlending operation are:

Obtain Proper Licensing and Approvals

  • Register as a company with the Registrar General’s Department.
  • Apply to Bank of Ghana for money lending or microfinance license.
  • Meet the minimum capital requirement of 500,000 GHS for MFI license.

Start Small and Test the Market

  • Pilot first with a small loan portfolio before scaling up.
  • Start with a niche market segment and product.
  • Refine processes, credit policies and interest rates based on initial experience.

Invest in Experienced Personnel

  • Hire managers with microfinance expertise to run operations.
  • Employ loan officers with strong financial analysis skills and local knowledge.
  • Develop clear policies and training procedures for staff.

Use Technology Extensively

  • Automate loan origination, approval, disbursal and collection to maximize efficiency.
  • Adopt mobile apps and digital channels for faster customer acquisition.
  • Use data analytics and credit scoring models to make smart lending decisions.

Develop Robust Risk Management

  • Design standardized protocols for borrower evaluation, appraisal and legal due diligence.
  • Diversify loan products and client segments to minimize risk exposure.
  • Maintain high portfolio quality by prudent underwriting and collections.

Adopt Best Practices

  • Create strong Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) procedures.
  • Follow sound corporate governance principles and internal controls.
  • Treat customers fairly and avoid predatory lending practices.

Monitor Key Metrics

  • Track portfolio at risk, loan loss rates, collection efficiency, write-offs and other KPIs.
  • Review operating costs, net interest margin, ROA and other financial metrics regularly.
  • Optimize pricing and credit standards to achieve profitability targets.

Build Strategic Partnerships

Partner with retailers, agricultural cooperatives, trade associations to originate borrowers.

Tie up with banks and mobile money providers for efficient lending operations and cash management.

Collaborate with other lenders to share credit information and reduce risk.


Money lending is a profitable business opportunity in Ghana, provided lenders adopt sound strategies and execution. Favorable demographics, socioeconomic conditions and financial inclusion needs underpin the industry’s strong growth prospects. However, managing risks around non-performing loans, operational costs and market volatility are imperative for success.

Astute lenders can generate high returns by charging interest rates of 25-50% and attaining high portfolio yields, while also driving financial inclusion.

But maintaining high lending standards and ethical practices is crucial. Technology and mobile solutions will enable lenders to reach scale efficiently. Though competition is increasing, the large underserved market provides ample room for expansion.

With prudent underwriting, cost control and diversified products, lenders can attain 25-35% returns on equity capital invested.

But this requires investing in skilled staff, risk management capabilities and customer service. Partnerships will also be key for customer acquisition and risk mitigation. Meanwhile, adapting to regulatory changes in capital and lending policy is needed.

Overall, Ghana’s supportive business environment, economic growth and rising financial inclusion point to exciting possibilities in the money lending industry.

It offers a rewarding entrepreneurial venture for both existing and new players with adequate capital and expertise. But sustainable success hinges greatly on building robust and efficient microlending operations while upholding responsible financing principles.

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