I like my bank in the US. The staff is nice, they have a lot of ATMs in New York City, they once gave me a fruit basket (long story)… But I would never think about getting together with other Wachovia customers to toast how much we like banking there. Yet that’s exactly what a number of Alidé (Kiva’s partner in Benin) clients do regularly.
Most of Alidé’s clients don’t have any traditional collateral so they form solidarity groups to back each others’ loans. These groups then become friends with other groups and usually a leader emerges that organizes weekly meetings for everyone – meetings where they can make new friends, talk about their businesses, learn from each other, learn from guest speakers that are brought in to speak on finance, business, and health, etc. These meetings are never boring and always well attended. And, sometimes, are simply parties to celebrate their success and/or the existence of Alidé for making their success a possibility.
One such group meets every Monday. Below are some pictures from a recent meeting, where they celebrated six years of being Alidé customers.
Marie Leznicki is a Kiva Fellow serving her placement with Alidé in Benin.