Madagascar is one of Kiva’s newest territory and I am the lucky first Fellow to ever work in the country and visit Vahatra, Kiva’s Field Partner in Antsirabe.
Vahatra’s mission is to improve the living conditions of poor families living on less than two dollars a day by promoting and assisting with the development of their economic and social autonomy. Vahatra offers microfinance services and training, social assistance, and health insurance.
Being new to the world of microfinance and sub-Saharan Africa, I was fascinated by the high touchpoint operations required to successfully run an MFI in this region. The significant amount of time spent with each borrower to ensure their business activity’s success and thus their loan repayment ability is an indication of why Vahatra considers (and calls) each of their borrowers a partner. Vahatra mainly funds small revenue-generating business activities such as chicken and ‘zébu’ breeding, small street stores called ‘gargotes’, fruit and vegetable market vendors, etc.
Here are three Vahatra partners that I had the opportunity to meet:
Through revenues made from the sale of these baskets, Henriette has been able to build a home for her large family composed of more children and grand-children than she can recall.
Through multiple successive micro-loans, Denise has been able to support her family, as a widow, with the profits gained from raising dairy cows, pigs and zébus, and cultivating various vegetables. Denise was excited to share that she was recently able to contribute to her fifth son’s marriage by selling three of her pigs.
Gilbert skillfully turns used truck parts into agricultural tools, offering inexpensive quality options to farmers around Antsirabe. Gilbert is considered one of Vahatra’s model borrowers as he has borrowed and repaid a total of 11 loans which has allowed him to grow his assets by 30 times.
Interested in seeing a snippet of what life is like for Henriette, Denise, Gilbert and the majority in Madagascar? Here's a short video produced by an awesome social enterprise tackling sanitation challenges in Madagascar, one of two topics that I'll cover in my next blog.
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With over seven years of work experience in the Private Sector, Andreanne is committed to re-orienting her career to one that will have a greater social impact. She is motivated by the concept of using strategic and innovative business principles to solve social issues and is undertaking a ‘year of learning through volunteering’ prior to starting her MBA at the University of Oxford in September. After first dipping into this new sector through part-time volunteering at the Impact Hub Dubai, Andreanne started her ‘year’ at Ashoka in Cairo, Egypt where she supported the Arab World Venture Team in the search and selection process of system-changing social entrepreneurs across the MENA region. She is now looking forward to starting her fellowship with Kiva in Madagascar to dive specifically into poverty alleviation. Andreanne’s past work experience was focused in Marketing and Project Management for large-scale commercial conferences and exhibitions in Canada, the US, the UAE, India, Indonesia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. She was born and raised in Canada and is of French Canadian and Lebanese ethnic origin.