By Shirley Fong, KF12, Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea, Cambodia

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s an AMK credit officer!

Much like a superhero, credit officers are the understated motor that keeps the loan system running.  Their continued daily gruel brings loaned monies to those who need it.  After a day in the field, I am worn down to the fibers of my soul from the long hours of heat exhaustion, heavy rain (during Cambodia’s monsoon season), and navigating a loud, clunky motorcycle on unpaved roads mapless. But I realize I have no reason to complain – credit officers do this every day!

A typical credit officer "herd"le

As a lender, it’s easy to assume that your $25 loan is delivered directly to the borrower, and repayments magically appear in your account when due, but a lot goes on behind the scenes in order to make all this “magic” happen. However, credit officers play a vital role in this process.

So what does a credit officer do exactly? Credit officers go out to the villages to interview potential borrowers, educate borrowers on the loan product, distribute loans, and collect repayments. It takes a credit officer with the right kind of skill set to get the job done; namely, effective communication, adaptability (especially in ever-changing environments in the rural villages), the ability to efficiently keep track of various accounts, and self-motivation (credit officers go out into the field alone).

Credit officer collecting repayments on his routine field visit

I tried to keep up with a credit officer on his way to collect repayments, to learn more about his background. I wanted to profile this understated hero – and here’s what I found.

Let’s give it up for Chealy and all the other microfinance credit officers across the world!

Thank you Chealy!

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