The Road to Success

For the alleviation of poverty in Uganda, Microfinance Institutions are in the pilot seat by providing micro loans to the poor. The areas of operation depend on an Institution’s Vision and Mission, and like at Pearl Microfinance, financial services are provided to the economically active population of Uganda sustainably.

MFIs’ operations can not go on without the recognition of credit officers, a position that requires a lot of dedication, hard work and trust. The credit staff should have good people skills for if not, institutions would lack who to lend the money to or worse still, the existing clients are bound to fly over since they have many Institutions to choose from. They manage many lending groups and it is their duty to monitor each group for timely disbursements, loan repayments and trainings in better business skills. However, they face hardships like heavy rains leading to slippery and muddy roads, dusty roads with the scotching sun that mercilessly burns their heads. And actually our obligations at Kiva largely depend on the credit staff since they organize, train and disburse loans to the various groups that are known to us all; after which they ensure that the groups make their repayments on time. Kiva is doing a very commendable job in funding clients through the website just like the clients ensure that whatever amount disbursed is repaid on time.

The same recognition also goes to the hard working and devoted client’s that are very much willing to put their trust in the mutual relationship we have with them.
Take the example of Namulindwa Suzan, a 10 year old client with Pearl Microfinance in Gakuweebwa munno women’s group in Lugazi. She has a business of selling new clothing to daily markets called “mubuulo” which she buys from Kampala. Such markets are a collection of many entrepreneurs with various merchandise with a hope to sell to the customers who constantly flock the shopping stalls in the demarcated market areas as some markets reoccur weekly or bi-monthly and amazingly, no one concerned ever forgets the day and date and will always look forward to their next shopping whose prices are considered lower than shop prices.

To reach these markets, entrepreneurs like Suzan come together and hire a truck to take them with their merchandise to the market and pick them up after the day’s sale. And since the daily markets are never booming in the morning hours, Suzan has ample time to prepare her children for school, prepare the day’s meal and serve her husband before she sets foot only to return home after 9pm.

The saying, “when good character and hard work find opportunity, wonderful things happen” comes to terms with Suzan since with the help of loans, she has been able to increase stock of the clothes she sells and this has enabled her to pay school fees for her 4 children plus 3 relatives in her care, she has bought herself another plot of land, she has two cows, one giving her milk and she has hopes of more developments.

Figure 1: A typical wednesday market in Njeru County in Jinja.

Figure 1: A typical wednesday market in Njeru County in Jinja.

Very true, women are instrumental in the poverty eradication process; take the example of Babirye Eflance. She had never thought of joining any lending group not until a day she was sent packing by her husband. It all started when she gave birth to her 5th born Sarah. At the age of 3 months, Sarah developed some abnormalities like having a loose neck, rolling eyes with a generally very weak more like a borne less body. She took her to the various clinics and hospitals with no solution to her sickness and this prompted the husband to send her packing with the rest of her children. Having no where else to go, she headed back to her parents’ home who managed to set apart some little money for her as capital to start a small retail shop.

Figure 2: Babirye Eflance with Sarah, her daughter.

Figure 2: Babirye Eflance with Sarah, her daughter.

After a few months, and by word of mouth, she was introduced to Pearl Microfinance and since then, life has never been the same. She has been able to include the sale of charcoal, mukene, tomatoes, pineapples and many others hence increasing her savings each day. As a result of her persistence and hard work, she has been able to educate her children of which 2 are now secondary school teachers, 2 are managing their own businesses while Sarah is able to access her medication, her life’s dependency. Eflance has asked for another loan through her lending group with the hope to restock her retail shop with more products like sugar that will bring in more income. This is not a story of sympathy but to show how she has managed to pull herself out of sheer poverty. In every development, we are supported by others and it takes one with a big heart to sacrifice the little they have for some one else’s big achievements. Good Luck.

Posted on behalf of Grace Natoolo, Pearl Microfinance


About the author

JD Bergeron

JD is responsible for ensuring that Kiva maintains and grows its core commitment to the disadvantaged beneficiary of its internet platform. He leads the development and execution of Kiva's social performance strategy, which entails measuring, providing judgment on and communicating the social performance of Kiva's operations including its MFI Field Partners and new product initiatives. After growing the Kiva Fellows Program into a critical contributor to Kiva's success and one of the largest and most sought after networks of microfinance volunteers in the world, he gladly accepted the challenge of developing the social performance practice at Kiva. JD brings over fourteen years of leadership and program development experience both in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Prior to Kiva, he built robust systems to achieve $3M as Director of Resource Development at ACCION International, served with the U.S. Peace Corps in a poor, rural region of Bulgaria, and held senior roles at a variety of early stage companies during periods of rapid growth. JD holds a BA in Russian Language and Comparative Literature from Washington University in Saint Louis.