Four weeks ago I left my first placement in Cambodia and came to the Philippines where I started my second assignment with Kiva Field Partner ASKI. With each day at ASKI I have been more and more impressed by the dedication of the staff and the amazing programs that they are running.
Last week I started working on a blog post where I plan to conduct video interviews with staff that work on what ASKI calls, their “Beyond Microfinance” programs. These programs include; health insurance, life insurance, community development, housing loans for government built low income housing units, marketing training, finance training and a whole foundation that provides everything from child care to scholarships to toilets.
As I began to research each program’s operation it became obvious that each one of them were a testament to the staff’s tireless efforts to serve their clients in every possible way. Most of the programs are funded directly through profits earned in their core micro credit business, which I thought was an incredible use of profits. There was something else I discovered that struck me as well; many of these programs would not be possible without partnership with or support from the Filipino government.
I found that the health insurance, life insurance and housing loan programs are in direct partnership with the government, and the community development program helps villages work with the local government to complete valuable infrastructure projects.
I immediately thought back to my time in Cambodia and I asked myself:
Even if a Cambodian MFI came here, saw all this wonderful work that ASKI is doing, would they even be able to come close to replicating them back in Cambodia?
I don’t think they could.
While there are a few Cambodian MFIs who are working hard to provide their clients with services beyond loans and savings they are struggling to do this without any government support.
While I knew before now that microfinance cannot do it all alone, after reflecting on the differences in Cambodia and the Philippines this point just smacked me across the face and I couldn’t help but think, holy cow, what a difference a government makes.
For my next blog post I want to try to experiment with something. I will be in the field, visiting branches and clients all next week, as fellows this is what we live for and this is where I find I learn the most. If you have any questions about Microfinance, Kiva Field Partners, or anything else that you think I may be able to answer while I’m out and about next week, leave me a comment and I will try to create a video response to your question. Again, this is an experiment and I’m not sure if it will work, but hey, lets give it a shot.
To see ASKI loans currently funding click here.
To join the ASKI (aka “The Coolest MFI in the World”) lending team click here.
Drew Loizeaux has been a Kiva Fellow since Febuary 2009 and is currently working at Kiva’s partner ASKI in the Philippines.