by Tara Capsuto, Kiva Fellow, Ecuador
Armed with training materials and a couple of motivational video messages from staff members at Fundación D-MIRO Misión Alianza, D-MIRO’s Kiva Coordinator, Rubi, and I left behind the bustling commercial hub of Guayaquil for the coastal city of General Villamil Playas. Our mission: train loan officers for Kiva responsibilities, from understanding how the website works, to conducting interviews and journaling so D-MIRO can post more borrowers to Kiva. Here’s a short description and a video chronicle of our journey, which included some delicious ceviche and inspiring borrower visits.'
We headed to D-MIRO’s office in Playas to train five loan officers over the course of two days. Two hours outside of Guayaquil, Playas is a popular weekend getaway for Guayaquileños (people from Guayaquil) during the warmest months of the year (January-April). Most of D-MIRO’s clients in and around Playas work in the seafood industry, as do most residents of Playas. Others own small convenience stores, or zip passengers around town in taxis or trici-motos (a buggy attached to a motorbike).
Loan officer training alternated between interactive presentations and field visits, interviewing more than 15 new Kiva borrowers in two days.
One particularly inspiring borrower was Maria Clementina Mejia Crespin. We visited Maria en route from Playas to Posurja where she has a tiny convenience store on the side of the main road. She got her start in business by selling seafood dishes on the weekends and generated enough income to open her store. She explained that her husband wants her to just sell seafood full time because it´s more profitable but she loves working in the store — this was evident when neighborhood children stopped by during our interview.
We also met with Nancy Leticia Apolinario Diaz, a mother of 3 young children, who used a little ingenuity to generate additional income for her family. She noticed that her neighborhood had a high demand for internet services and a distinct lack of supply – no internet cafes in site (or Cybers, as they’re known in Ecuador). So she started charging neighbors to use her computer in her living room and business has been booming since. She added a printer and even bought a device to offer cell phone credit recharges (most people here have pay-as-you go cell phones). She has essentially converted a corner of her living room into an internet café. She plans to use her new loan to buy an additional computer.
After two days of hard work by the loan officers, one more of D-MIRO’s agencies (now 8 of their 14), are posting borrowers to Kiva, meaning more loans for more deserving entrepreneurs. Keep an eye out for loans from Playas and make a loan to one of D-MIRO’s clients!
Does working with loan officers look like fun to you? Want to get out and meet Kiva borrowers? Apply to be a Kiva Fellow!
Tara Capsuto is a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador, currently wrapping up her 6 weeks with Fundación D-MIRO.