By Michelle Baker, KF11 Ghana
I spent the entire past week out in the field training branches and meeting with Kiva borrowers, and it was the most inspiring thing I have experienced in a very long time.
The loan officers are some of the most amazing people who I have met. Without their hard work, I am certain that microfinancing would not be possible. The loan officers that I met start their days before 8:00 a.m. and end as late as 11:00 p.m. They do not spend their days in a comfortable air-conditioned office, but instead spend most of their time traveling from rural town to rural town meeting with current and potential borrowers. They do not have cars, but instead must wait on the side of the road for a tro-tro (a mini-van packed with people) or a shared taxi. In the town of Kumasi, where I currently live, you will come across 10 tro-tros and taxis every 5 minutes, but in the rural areas, you may have to wait anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour for a passing tro-tro or taxi. Did I mention that it extremely hot and humid in Ghana?
These loan officers are dressed up in slacks, a long Oxford shirt, a tie and polished shoes. They often meet in churches that have a ceiling fan which really only moves the hot air around, but doesn’t really offer any relief from the heat. In one of the rural towns outside Kade, two loan officers met with over 30 groups of borrowers. Each group had 5 to 10 individual borrowers. These two loan officers collected repayments, offered training sessions and listened to any grievances that the borrowers had. They do this all with a determination and kindness that I am not sure that most people would be able to have, including myself. I asked one of the loan officers what he likes about his job, and he told me that he feels like he is providing a service to a community of people who are less fortunate than himself and really need the help. It was nice that he did not treat his work just as part of his job, but that he actually felt inspired about the work he was doing.
I also got to meet some Kiva borrowers, and attempted to converse with them in their native Twi language. Well I shared the three phrases that I know! Mma ache, which means good morning. Wo ho te sen, which means how are you? Me ho ye, which mean I’m good. They loved it!
Finally, the loan officers and the borrowers wanted me to tell Kiva and all the Kiva borrowers that they were so thankful for providing loans and how these loans have helped the borrowers to care for their families. I think the loan officers also deserve praise because without them, Kiva and Kiva borrowers wouldn’t be able to reach these rural borrowers!