I left the Advans Ghana's (Kiva's Field Partner) office, with Kofi, the Advans Loan Officer, to meet the nearest potential Kiva borrower, Elizabeth.
For the first leg of our journey, we had to take three different tro-tros, minibus share taxis, and we eventually ended up at a busy intersection with market stalls all around. Now the exciting and unexpected part of the trip began – getting on a motorcycle for the last 6 kilometers to Elizabeth's village.
Counting my blessings that I was in one piece after a fast and bumpy ride, I hopped off at our destination – a small refreshments shop. The shopfront was neat and tidy, with a little patio consisting of a concrete floor, a few plastic chairs and a roof for shade in the glaring Ghana sun. A woman who worked there got Kofi and me cold sachets of water and arranged 3 chairs in a semi-circle in preparation for meeting Elizabeth.
This was my very first visit to the field as a Kiva fellow, so I was excited and intensely curious. Who is this potential Kiva borrower? What are her goals? Would she mind answering the many questions I have for her?
Once Elizabeth arrived, Kofi introduced us and we shook hands Ghana-style, middle fingers snapping at the end. Half-laughing, Elizabeth greeted me in Ewe, the language of the Volta Region (The language in Accra and all surrounding areas is Twi). I had spent some time in the Volta Region working with a local nonprofit, so I surprised her by answering back in Ewe. We both laughed, and a quick bond was made.
I found out through Kofi that Elizabeth had run the beer bar for many years, but in the last 4 she had begun preparing and selling food. The response was good, so she was looking to expand into catering meals for local social events. She was asking Advans Savings and Loan for a loan to get started on her entrepreneurial goals.
I asked Elizabeth about why she went to Advans for the loan, she said “I went to two other banks, but they won’t give me all the money I want – if I want 10,000 cedi, they will only give me 8,000 cedi and keep 2,000 cedi as collateral. But I have to pay interest on the whole 10,000 cedi. Interest was and it was too much for me to pay. "Advans will lend me the money I need, at a good price,” she added, smiling her thanks to Kofi.
Elizabeth intends to use the loan to buy ingredients for her signature dishes of light soup with fufu, fried plantains and groundnut (peanut) soup. She will use the profits to open a second shop in a larger town and to send her 3 children to good schools, and eventually to university.
I was struck by Elizabeth's earnestness, openness and drive. She was happy with Advans, so much so that she gave Kofi a lead on another possible borrower. Unfortunately, they were not around at the moment, but Advans’ commitment to fair and inclusive lending practices had obviously made an impact.
As Kofi and I hopped on our chauffeur-driven motorbikes, I waved goodbye - I will definitely keep track of her success through Kofi, Advans and Kiva.
Elizabeth’s loan was recently posted! Please help her achieve her dreams for herself and her family, you can access Elizabeth's loan here.