SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

National Certificate: Micro Finance 
23453  National Certificate: Micro Finance 
SGB Banking and Micro Finance 
BANKSETA - Banking Sector Education and Training Authority  OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
National Certificate  Field 03 - Business, Commerce and Management Studies  Finance, Economics and Accounting 
Undefined  120  Level 3  NQF Level 03  Regular-Unit Stds Based 
Reregistered  SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this National Certificate in Micro-Finance: NQF Level 3 is to provide the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values required to function effectively as a Micro-Finance Officer in a Micro-Finance institution. Qualifying learners will be competent to handle all aspects of the micro loan process from dealing with a loan application, through processing the loan disbursement to handling repayments.

This National Certificate in Micro-Finance NQF Level 3 will provide all employees already employed in, and those who wish to be employed in, the Micro-Finance field with a nationally recognised Qualification which is registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). This Qualification will allow learners to proceed to a Certificate at NQF Level 4 or equivalent and is the foundation Qualification for learners with specialist knowledge and skills in Micro-Finance.

The Micro-Finance sector is a large and growing one in which skilled and professional employees are required. These employees are required to work with clients, both in assisting them with loan applications and in advising on the suitability of clients to be granted a loan. Advice also has to be given to clients on suitable ways to manage loan repayments, and on alternative ways to obtain funding in cases where they do not qualify for a loan. The knowledge and skills contained in the Unit Standards in this Qualification will enable the learner to handle those competencies efficiently and effectively.

The Micro-Finance industry is also a highly regulated one and the National Certificate in Micro-Finance Level 3 provides the knowledge and skills to enable the learner to comply with the regulations when performing his/her duties and to ensure that his/her organisation is compliant as well.

Rationale for the qualification:

The National Qualification in Micro-Finance: NQF level 3 is one of two Qualifications that have been designed to address a number of issues in the Micro-Finance sector that have been neglected in the past, even though the sector is well established in South Africa.

These issues include:
  • Lack of efficiency and effectiveness in the sector
  • Low levels of competition in the sector
  • Training and capacity-building of employees internally to a national standard by companies in the sector in general
  • The availability of formal Qualifications in South Africa that acknowledge the knowledge, skills and expertise that are possessed and required by employees in the sector and which will form the basis for further learning in the sub-field and/or lead to the acquisition of other related Qualifications in a process of life-long learning.

    This Qualification provides knowledge of and practical skills in Micro-Finance, as well as progress along a career path for learners who:
  • Have worked in the sector for a number of years, but have no formal Qualifications in Micro-Finance
  • Wish to enter the Micro-Finance sector and work towards a nationally recognised Qualification
  • Were previously denied access to further education and training
  • Want to extend their knowledge of and skills in the sector.

    This Qualification is aimed at learners in formal education as well as learners already employed in the sector.

    Although this is a Financial Services Qualification, it is specifically focused on Micro-Finance. This sector is different from the broader financial sector in terms of the types of businesses that operate in the sector, types of loans and regularity of business
    Micro-Finance refers to small savings and loans transactions. Micro-Finance also includes clients from the poorer socio-economic groups of South Africans who receive no or limited services from the commercial banking sector.

    The National Qualification in Micro-Finance: NQF level 3 is the first Qualification in a learning pathway in the Micro-Finance field.
    It is aimed at developing informed and skilled workers in a sector that has had great growth since 1990. The sector in 2002 consisted of more than 30 000 employees, 10 million clients and R25b granted in loans. 

    It is assumed that learners are competent in:

    Communication at NQF Level 2
    Mathematical Literacy at NQF Level 2
    Computer Literacy at NQF level 2.


    Provision has been made for prior learning to be recognised if a learner is able to demonstrate competence in the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes in this Qualification without attending further education and training. This means that the Qualification may be attained in whole or in part through a process of RPL. Application for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) should be made to the Bank ETQA. The assessor and learner will jointly decide on the best assessment procedure for the RPL process. 


    The qualification consists of a Fundamental, a Core and an Elective Component. Learners are to complete unit standards listed in the qualification totalling a minimum of 120 credits to be awarded the qualification as follows:

    The Fundamental Component:
  • All Fundamental unit standards totalling 54 credits are compulsory.

    The Core component:
  • All Core unit standards totalling 54 credits are compulsory.

    The Elective Component:
  • Learners are to choose unit standards from the list of Elective unit standards totalling a minimum of 12 credits. 

    Qualifying learners will be able to perform all the functions of a Micro-Finance Officer including:

    Promoting and selling the products of a Micro-Finance institution
    Assisting customers to make applications for a loan
    Processing the loan application including making an appraisal of the credit-worthiness of the applicant
    Making a decision on a loan application based on the credit-worthiness of the client and the institution`s criteria, policy and procedures
    Counseling of clients, who do not qualify for a loan, on how to manage financially, as well as clients who do qualify, on how to ensure that regular repayments are made on schedule
    Disbursing the loan
    Monitoring repayment
    Managing client relationships.

    Critical Cross-field outcomes

    1. Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made.
    2. Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation and community.
    3. Organise and manage oneself and one`s activities responsibly and
    4. Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information.
    5. Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical and / or language skills in the modes of oral and / or written presentation.
    6. Use science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and health of others.
    7. Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation
    8. Contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of society at large, by making it the underlying intention of any programme of learning to make an individual aware of the importance of:

    8.1 Reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more effectively.
    8.2 Participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities.
    8.3 Being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts.
    8.4 Exploring education and career opportunities.
    8.5 Developing entrepreneurial opportunities. 

    Assessors should check that the learner is competent in the following criteria:
  • A specific number of loans are approved in line with organisational targets
  • Lending practices and procedures are implemented in line with the lending policies of the Micro-Finance institution
  • The affordability rating of a small business to repay the loan is explained and justified in line with generally accepted industry practices and legal and governmental criteria.
  • The client retention rate is maintained at a level agreed within the Micro-Finance organisation
  • Reports are presented and explained in terms of pre-agreed client relationship indicators

    Exit points for learners who do not complete the Qualification
  • Learners will be credited with Unit Standards in which they have proved
  • Learners who complete individual Unit Standards but do not complete
    this Qualification retain their credits. However, should the substance of the Unit Standard change, the validity of the credit towards the Qualification may be reviewed.
  • Learners who change their provider or learning site before completing
    the Qualification may transfer their credits to the new learning site.


    Assessment practices must be fair, transparent, valid, and reliable and should ensure that no learner is disadvantaged. Learners who wish to be assessed against these standards should direct enquiries to the Bank SETA.

    The focus of assessment must be on the assessment of the learning outcomes rather than learning outputs. The specific outcomes guide the learning and training process towards the outcomes on a continuous basis. The purpose is to determine whether the outcomes have been attained. Situations should present a wide range of options. Applications should require significant choices from a wide range of procedures and in a number of contexts.
  • Learning, teaching and assessment are inextricably linked. Where appropriate assessment of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values indicated in the various Unit Standards should be integrated. Assessment in Communication, Mathematical Literacy and Computer Literacy should use authentic Micro-Finance contexts wherever practical.
  • Assessment has a formative monitoring function. Formative assessment should be used to assess gaps in the learner`s skill and knowledge and to indicate where there is a need for expanded opportunities. The goal is to promote learning and to assess the efficacy of the teaching and learning process. Feedback from assessment informs teaching and learning and allows for the critique of outcomes, methodology and materials. Formative assessment is diagnostic and as such it should guide the learner and the trainer. It is continuous and is used to plan appropriate learning experiences to meet the learner`s needs. It provides information about problems experienced at different stages in the learning process. As it is criterion-referenced, if the learner has met the assessment criteria, s/he has achieved the outcomes.

    Assessment should also have a summative component. Summative assessment may be used on completion of a Unit Standard, but should not be the only form of assessment.

    A variety of methods must be used in assessment and tools and activities must be appropriate to the context in which the learner is working. Assessment should take place in an authentic context as far as is possible. Where it is not possible to assess competence in the workplace, simulations, case studies and other similar techniques should be used to provide a context appropriate to the assessment.

    Integration implies that theoretical and practical components should, where possible, be assessed together
    Integrative techniques should be used to assess applied competence. Learners should be required to demonstrate that they can perform the outcomes with understanding and insight.

    Assessment should ensure that all specific outcomes, embedded knowledge and Critical Cross-field Outcomes are evaluated. Assessment of the Critical Cross-Field outcomes should be integrated with the assessment of the specific outcomes. The Critical Cross-Field outcomes are implicit in some Unit Standards and programmes should be designed to extend and further reflect the integration 

    An extensive search was done of overseas Qualifications in this Sub-Field and the following International consultants and institutions were contacted in this regard as well:
  • Roland Pearson Director of AFCAP - The African Capacity Building Initiative
  • Betty Sabana training manager of AFCAP
  • Prof Douglas Graham and Dr Richard Meyer of the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • Silvia Wisnivski and Michael Fiebig of the German Bank Academy
  • Dr Richard Roberts, Chief of the Agricultural Finance and Marketing Division of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United States
  • CGAP - The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest.

    It was ascertained that internationally no Qualifications exist in this field, but that training institutions and employers in most countries offer stand-alone short courses relating to specific issues in the Micro-Finance field that are topical at the time. That international approach differs from that of this Qualification, and that of the proposed one at NQF Level 4, in that the International approach does not include Fundamental and Core competencies that are required by all employees in the sector and combine them into a complete Qualification. The emphasis in the rest of the world is to have short skills courses that meet the short-term training needs of staff.

    The African Capacity Building Initiative (AFCAP) runs the only comparable approach out of Kenya for Eastern and Southern Africa. AFCAP use the courses of The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP). Recently the German Banking Academy started looking at similar types of Qualifications for the Micro-Finance sector.

    The National Certificate in Micro-Finance NQF Level 3 and the National Certificate in Micro-Finance NQF Level 4 have been aligned with the AFCAP/CGAP courses
    It must be emphasised that this Qualification is groundbreaking work Internationally and that courses culminating in a Certificate and/or Diploma covering entry to the sector to advanced applications in the sector, do not exist internationally. 

    The National Certificate in Micro-Finance: Level 3 articulates well with the following Banking Qualifications at NQF Levels 3 and 4:
  • National Certificate in Banking: NQF Level 3
  • National Certificate in Banking: NQF Level 4
  • National Certificate in Micro-Finance: NQF Level 4 

    This Qualification may be assessed internally by the provider and moderated by a moderator who is registered as an assessor with the Bank ETQA or a relevant ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank ETQA.

    Any institution offering learning that will enable the achievement of this Qualification must be accredited as a provider with the Bank ETQA or a relevant ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank ETQA.

    Moderation must include both internal and external moderation of assessments at exit points of the Qualification, unless ETQA policies specify otherwise. Moderation should also encompass achievement of the competence described both in individual Unit Standards as well as the integrated competence described in the Qualification. 

    Assessors must be registered with the Bank ETQA or a relevant ETQA, that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank ETQA.

    Assessors should hold a Banking Qualification at NQF level 4 or higher or an equivalent.

    Assessors should have subject matter expertise in the Unit Standards as well

    as an understanding of the context of the Qualification in order to carry out integrated assessment. 

    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 


    Core  13419  Calculate the repayment ability and assess the credit risk of potential clients  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  13424  Collect and manage loans  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  13444  Counsel customers in a micro-finance environment  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  10170  Demonstrate understanding of employment relations in an organisation  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  10955  Foster and maintain customer relations  Level 3  NQF Level 03  10 
    Core  110027  Recommend the financing decision and pay out the loan  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  110028  Understand Micro-Finance Business Principles  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  13440  Understand the legal, ethical and professional needs of the micro-finance industry  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  8968  Accommodate audience and context needs in oral communication  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9960  Communicate verbally and non-verbally in the workplace  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9010  Demonstrate an understanding of the use of different number bases and measurement units and an awareness of error in the context of relevant calculations  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9013  Describe, apply, analyse and calculate shape and motion in 2-and 3-dimensional space in different contexts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  8969  Interpret and use information from texts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9012  Investigate life and work related problems using data and probabilities  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  7567  Produce and use spreadsheets for business  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  7575  Produce presentation documents for business  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  7570  Produce word processing documents for business  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  7456  Use mathematics to investigate and monitor the financial aspects of personal, business and national issues  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  8970  Write texts for a range of communicative contexts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Elective  10016  Demonstrate an understanding of product positioning  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  10019  Demonstrate an understanding of the target market  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  110029  Develop administrative procedures in a Micro-Finance organisation  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  13426  Develop and implement credit policies, procedures and control systems  Level 4  NQF Level 04  10 
    Elective  13441  Develop cash management procedures in a micro-finance organisation  Level 4  NQF Level 04 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
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    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.