By Sam Trauffer, KF10, Senegal
When a lender looks at the profile of a borrower on kiva.org, he is fed with lots of information about this individual. The reverse is not always the case, as Taylor Akin pointed out in her great blogpost. At least with lenders who have created a personal lender-profile, it is possible to create a two way communication which fulfills Kiva’s goal of connecting people through lending. Kevin Chaissan demonstrated a beautiful example in his post.
When I visit clients to get information for journal updates, I take a printout of their profile on kiva with me. This allows them not only to see what their profile on that thing called “the internet” looks like, but also who their lenders are. So this is sort of “p2p”, “peer-to-peer”, “person-to-person” or whatever nice sounding term you wish. But what are they all about? Is p2p an end in itself? Of course it isn’t. It’s more than just a fancy marketing word. It has an impact:
When borrowers see their lenders, they don’t just find it funny or interesting to be supported by strangers: first and foremost they tell me that it is extremely encouraging to see that there are people across the globe who find their business ideas promising and who are impressed by the hard work they do! Visiting a client to write a journal update is not only about collecting information to write some paragraphs for the lenders. It’s taking time for an individual entrepreneur who, at the end of a hard day, doesn’t always feel too optimistic about his business prospects. And then there comes a Loan Officer or Kiva Coordinator (accompanied by a Kiva Fellow from far away who doesn’t understand a word but keeps smiling) who spends 20 or 30 minutes with this woman, talking about business and family, challenges and dreams.
Especially at MFIs like Caurie Microfinance, who normally interact with groups only, it is Kiva that facilitates personal contact between an individual borrower and a Loan Officer. The atmosphere is far more relaxed than at a group meeting, allowing a real discussion instead of a short question-and-answer game. Journal updates are more than just a feedback to lenders and they are far from being just additional work for the MFI: they create a value to the borrowers which sometimes seems to be even more important than the amount of money lent through Kiva! For Caurie MF’s clients, journal interviews are the point where they really benefit from the partnership with Kiva.
Sam Trauffer is a KF10 Fellow working at Caurie Microfinance in Thiès, Senegal. To join the lending team of Caurie Microfinance, click here. To see clients of Caurie Microfinance who are currently fundraising on Kiva, click here.