A long overdue staff introduction

Yes, as I am leaving. Julie Ross, the next Kiva Fellow to be placed in Rwanda, will take over with better and I’m sure more consistent postings here. But in the meantime, a quick note on some of the staff here at VFC, whom you will soon meet in more detail:

The Managing Director, Shem, is a genial and humorous man from Uganda. He is a new director here, having done previous work in other accounting and finance positions, including the largest microfinance institution in Uganda. He joined World Vision, the Christian international umbrella organization for Vision Finance Company, as Senior Financial Specialist in Africa, then moved to Rwanda to help with financial management. At the same time, the previous MD for VFC resigned, so Shem stepped in.

Antoinette is the head for administration and human resources here at VFC. She is a graduate of Butarye university, the nation’s best university in the south of the country. She studied public administration there, and joined World Vision right after college; she hopes in the next few years to start up a training center of her own. The target population is vulnerable orphans and widows – Antoinette hopes to teach them vocational skills they can put to use in making a living.

Patrick is the operations manager here at VFC. Having studied finance in university, he has been with World Vision for fourteen years – starting with a program for orphaned and vulnerable children. His involvement in this program led him to the calling of serving the poor and disadvantaged. True to nature, he can always be found with a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.

Donat: the finance manager here at VFC. (The name does not derive from the sticky sweet, but rather the French for “Donate.”) Donat exudes energy at all hours, even late at night while slogging through paperwork generated by external auditors. “This was supposed to be over with last month!” he complains loudly, in good cheer.

Ben and Providence are the directors of the MIS (the computer record-keeping) department. Ben is technically above Providence in rank, but let’s not talk about these things over-much, as the two just got married in September. They get teased about this a respectable amount.

Jean-Paul is called the “baby brother” Kiva coordinator. But don’t let the name trick you. Jean-Paul is indispensable to the Kiva process. When loan officers come to the headquarters, bringing photographs, stories, repayments and journals, he is the one who single-handedly posts it all onto the Kiva website, producing the content you see today. Jean-Paul, as are several other members of Vision Finance staff, is still in university. He holds this full-time job during the day, so that he can finance his education; then he attends classes at night.

Then of course, there is John Gasangwa. John has been absolutely instrumental in helping with Kiva work in my time here. Responsible for all donor relations (and now, also duties as a loan officer), John was the one who accompanied all my visits out to the field, whether for training, journaling, or just plain travel. John is, of course, as loud, crazy, and energetic as befits his position. Born in Uganda in a refugee camp (his parents left the country in the 1959), he has since returned to Rwanda to “be a part of the solution,” as he puts it, with a hope to serve the disadvantaged in his country. Having graduated from Butarye with excellent marks, he aspires to go to business school in the states – but is certain, by all counts, that he will come back to Rwanda to help solve the challenges that the nation faces.

For more about the kind and wonderful and generous staff here at VFC, stay tuned for Julie! There is sure to be more to come.


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