Paul and I are committed to blog more often. So here goes a first post in a long time.
We just started a new lending cycle in Ambalavao and I just received the first month of interviews from the women. The interviews are done by Ravo, our field manager in Ambalavao, who conducts them in Malagasy and types them up in French. Then our job is to translate them into English and send them out to the lenders so they can stay up to date with the borrowers.
I thought, for this post, I would provide a few excerpts of what stood out from these interviews.
The most striking part of reading through all the interviews is how the loan seems to be about a lot more than just giving these women money to expand their business. Some of the women say that the loan gives them more confidence in themselves, because it shows them that someone else believes in them. Charlotte says: “I wanted to thank the lenders for giving me even more confidence in myself by giving me this new loan to expand my business.” Some of the women have gained this feeling of self-worth by having work and responsibilities. Mireille says: “I feel like I’m just like all the others because I also have work.” Simone says: “These [loans] have really helped me to improve my life and to get closer to the rest of the community.”
There is also this sense that these loans give these women hope and drive them to work hard. Monique says: “I am happy to be getting another loan because I know that the lenders trust me and their generosity will give me the strength to succeed in life and to have hope.”
A few women say that ever since they have been with Masomboly, they feel like their marital life has improved (in past interviews, some women even admitted that their husbands beat them less). Emiliene says: “my life as a couple has really changed since I am able to contribute to household spending because I now earn my own money.”
Being a yogi, I loved hearing Anja say: “I also wanted to thank you because since I have been with Masomboly, I have been able to enjoy life as it is.”
The overall gratitude that is expressed in these interviews probably struck me the most. I’m not sure that most of us here would be expressing such gratitude towards the bank, as we (I) probably feel that we deserve a loan, as long as we meet the bank’s requirements. This highlights for me, not to sound cliche, how much a small loan can make a big difference. I hope the funders realize what a difference they are making with $30.