Underwriting Guidelines

Loan underwriting is the process that we undertake to analyse all of the information provided by each loan applicant and their credit file to assess whether or not that applicant meets our minimum loan criteria. As part of that process all data is verified, analysed and summarised to paint a picture of each applicant.

Our experienced underwriting team review each case to assess the likelihood of borrowers making their required payments based on both the current affordability of the loan and their financial past. This means that we only approve personal loan and retail finance applications where we can demonstrate that loan repayments are affordable, based on the applicant’s income and outgoings, for the term of the loan, and that the applicant has a strong record of managing credit in the past.

We seek to create the best underwriting model based on available consumer and/or business data, and to automate as much of the loan servicing as possible. In the case of existing gold star rated borrowers, the approval process for many loans is automated and instant. However, in the event that we are unable to provide an instant decision, your application will revert to an underwriter for manual review.

We take a common sense approach when assessing a borrower’s application, and we only originate loans that have quality underlying security, typically lending to a maximum of 80 to 90 percent of property value. Understanding our loan underwriting guidelines will help you understand your loan options when applying.


Getting to know you

We will review everything that you tell us. This begins with the declarations on the application form. The key characteristics we consider are age, employment status, income, how long you have lived in your current property, residential status, loan amount, loan purpose and how many earners there are in your household.

Your credit search

Our underwriters use electronic identification procedures by connecting directly with CRAs, to verify your identity.

We compare key credit data such as mortgages, loans, credit cards and bank overdraft records against those disclosed by you in your application. We also review how many other financial services companies have searched you, verify electoral roll registrations and look at your financial associations (other people that you share a financial relationship with).

The credit search shows your payment history as reported by other lenders and validates whether you have had any adverse credit in the past. Even late payments are reported on a credit search and can adversely affect your application.


 Your bank statements

We often ask for copies of your recent bank statements during the underwriting process. Doing this helps us to understand how well you manage your money. Bank statements also allow us to confirm the following information:

- Your full name and address

- Salary credits and whether they are on a regular basis and are a regular amount

- General transactional history and whether regular payments are made to credit agreements

- Any recent unpaid or reversed transactions

- Credit payments not disclosed on your application form

- Evidence of short-term high-cost credit usage (for example payday lending) or excessive online gambling

- Outgoing day-to-day costs, spending habits and ongoing obligations

- Use of authorised credit limits.


Your Income (Individual Borrowers)

We need to be assured that you have an income that can service the loan payments over the long term. Primarily, our main focus is on either ‘employed’ income (Salary/PAYE/commission/bonus) or ‘self-employed’ income (accounts/tax returns). However, we can take other forms of income into account which could include rental income, pension income, a car allowance, maintenance payments, tax credits or child benefit.

This is one of the most important variables we examine because it is used to repay the loan. Income is reviewed for the type of work, length of employment, educational training required, and opportunity for advancement. We will look at the source of income and the likelihood of its continuance to arrive at a gross monthly figure.


i. Salary and Wages

Calculated on a gross monthly basis, prior to income tax deductions.


ii. Part-time and Second Job Income

Not usually considered unless it is in place for 12 to 24 straight months. We view part-time income as a strong compensating factor.


iii. Commission, Bonus and Overtime Income

Can only be used if received for two previous years. Further, an employer must verify that it is likely to continue. A 24-month average figure is used.


Turnover (Business / Commercial Borrowers)

How much cash comes into your business, as against outgoings.


Deposit (Mortgage Borrowers)

Generally, the greater the amount of deposit you can put down, the better the loan product will become approved and made available. The minimum that is generally accepted is 5% although there are some options with us that may accept less. More skin of the borrower in the property or project being financed, the better the chances of approval.


Property (Collateral Loans)

The property is the security against the loan and so we will typically undertake an internal inspection and valuation of the property to make sure that it is adequate for our security. No lending will be provided for secured loans if your security property does not provide enough equity to lend against.


Buy-to-Let (Investment Loans)

We will need to be satisfied that the expected rent to be received is greater than the mortgage payment. As an example, if the mortgage payment is $1,000 per month, we will typically require that the expected rent to be 125% of this, i.e. $1,250 per month.

In addition, we will require evidence of your personal income from employment or self employment and will require this to satisfy a minimum amount, for example $20,000 per annum. However, we may waive the minimum personal income requirement altogether.



 The maths

Once we have verified your income, outgoings and credit history, we use an objective mathematical formula to calculate your affordability score and creditworthiness score. As a responsible lender we are committed to ensuring that each loan is affordable and sustainable for the full term.

The results of these calculations allow us to assess the following:

1. What is the value of total debt outstanding? Is this sustainable and reasonable in comparison to your annual net income?

2. Is the loan affordable based on your compulsory financial obligations, including your Lending Works loan, compared against your income?

3. Is there sufficient disposable income after all commitments and living expenses are taken into account?


What happens next?

Occasionally we will ask for further information, for example payslips if your net income is variable or cannot otherwise be verified. We may also ask for clarification of detail from the applicant’s documents or disclosures.


Risk and loan pricing

At Sikamaster Loans we use a risk model to determine the price of a loan for each applicant.

We consider all of the data and information described above to assess how likely it is that you will meet all of your loan repayments. To do this we also look at various key characteristics – for example if you own your own home or commercial space our experience shows that the risk of default is lower, and therefore the APR we offer will likely be lower.

At the other end of the scale, applicants who display signs of a transient nature, for example renting at a number of different addresses over the past few years, are inherently riskier and therefore the cost of their loan will be higher.


Declined applications

Each loan application is meticulously underwritten by our team of industry professionals. If we cannot establish that you are creditworthy or that the loan is affordable then we will be unable to accept the loan application. Applicants will be sent an email to confirm why their loan application was declined and we are always more than happy to discuss an individual loan application with an applicant should they have any questions.

If you believe that your loan application needs to be reconsidered, please send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. explaining why and we will ensure that your application is reviewed again by a different underwriter. We will also ask you to provide any additional information which was not available at the time of the initial application which may assist.


Verification and fraud

Sikamaster Loans takes financial fraud very seriously. We are a member of DOCTOPUS – the The DCANS Group's innovative and most comprehensive fraud sharing database. Throughout the entire underwriting process we review everything to ensure all details are true, accurate and reflect the applicant’s personal circumstances. If we find anything that is unacceptable or deliberately misleading we will report appropriately.


Need more information?

If you would like further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with us using the contact details provided on this page. 

Regulatory Compliance


Sikamaster (SML), is a 24/7*365 well-capitalised internet first, forward-thinking, safe, robust, resilient, smart & responsible direct lender for the working class (we don't lend to the unemployed). SML is not; a microfinance institution, and neither a savings & loans company or a Specialised Deposit-taking Institution (SDI) of any form, kind or type. SML does not seek and/or accept outside capital. SML does not charge any upfront fees before lending.

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) does not regulate some forms of no upfront fee non-deposit taking financial services, buy to lets, seller financing, commercial mortgages, secured loans, unsecured loans, earned wage access or workplace loan schemes, buy now pay later products, bridging loans, trusts, overseas mortgages, and conveyancing or debt management.

Our loans are strictly for existing customers of The TDG Ecosystem (including employees of existing business customers of GhanaStartups.org, existing tenants of RentNowPayLater.net and all Private-Sector Salaried Workers recruited via TDG Jobs Ghana platform). Our Home Mortgages can only be used to buy from or through DCANS Properties.

All Business Loans have been moved to GhanaStartups.org (a sister company). GhanaStartups.org provides loans to all kinds of businesses, be it large or small and not necessarily startups alone. All Construction Loans have been moved to Build Now Pay Later. All Auto Loans have been moved to Glostar Motors.

All Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Loans (incl interest-free and interest-bearing) have been moved to DCANS Pay (a sister company).

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