Client Training in Focus – ACCION Ambassadors Blog the World – July 20, 2011

> Posted by Center Staff
What is client training and how is it done?
Pamela Chang, one of the Accion Ambassadors currently offering a blog’s-eye-view of microfinance around the world, poses this question in her first-hand observations of Fundación Paraguaya’s training program.
Chang’s insights follow those of Stephen Matthew Lee, Jason Loughnane, and Leah Vinton, all Ambassadors whose posts we’ve featured in recent weeks. If you want these posts straight from the source, the Ambassadors blog is also available via subscribing.
The July 17 post by Chang, “Thinking About Client Training – Again” begins:
I see recurring themes as I read the Ambassadors’ posts.  Credit officers are microfinance heros, and knowledge is power.  I want to look at the question of training; what is it?  how to do it?
I learned of a two-day Fundación Paraguaya training program when I  visited Gloria, the president of the Comite San Antonio. This rural committee is in Mallorquin, some 60km outside of Ciudad del Este.  The day was beautiful and I jumped at the chance to escape the dust and fumes of the city for a day in the tranquil countryside.
Comite San Antonio comprises 17 women with a variety of businesses.  I had met the group on a previous visit with the asesora, but this was a personal visit.  Miriam and Cynthia, sisters and mathematicians, joined us.  Cynthia is not a committee member and Miriam is a hairdresser (a popular undertaking); both are single, in their mid-20′s, and attending university.  Cynthia hopes to be a math professor.

I wanted to know how credit from Fundacion Paraguaya helped the committee members, and generally how this fit into their Paraguayan life styles.  Gloria, 25, is married with two children.  Her home is solid and attractive; handsome chickens wandered around the yard, which boasts fruitful orange trees and a lovely garden.  Two small, well-behaved children wandered about, bouncing between home and their cousins’ house nearby.  Gloria’s husband has had a good job for many years.  Gloria likes her work and her profits help family finances and enhance Gloria’s independence.  Gloria’s business isn’t unique; she sells clothes (this is a popular business).  Comite San Antonio is in its fourth loan cycle, over one year, and its members have progressed from initial loans of 500,000 guaranis ($125) to loans of over 1,000,000 guaranis.  Gloria is studying elementary education and attends university classes on Saturdays (an expense that her business helps with).  She goes periodically to Brazil to buy trendy new clothes which she brings back to Mallorquin to sell to loyal and, according to Gloria, a growing number of clients.  Gloria is no stranger to credit, and actually has another loan from a bank (at higher interest, she said).  The loans allow Gloria to buy increasing amounts of inventory, and Gloria’s sales have been steadily rising.  She sometimes sells clothes at Miriam’s hairdressing business, hence a bit of cross-fertilization.
Read the rest of Chang’s post, and check out the other Ambassadors’ reports, by clicking here.
Image credit: bdesham
Have you read?
Martin Burt of Fundación Paraguaya: Stretching Microfinance, Narrowing Poverty
Measure? Alleviate? No, Eliminate Poverty