We had a surprising guest and an unexpected invitation this month.
Annie, a graduate student in Canada spent a few days with us to observe and learn about micro-credit. She was especially taken with the solar projects in Danli and Choluteca and how the recipients' lives have changed. It's also great to show visitors how much we focus our efforts on helping the micro and small entrepreneurs. It's a constant battle. As an organization grows larger and eventually becomes regulated, there is serious attention paid by auditors and examiners to operating expenses. One of the highest expense categories is personnel costs. Having too many loan officers necessary to service small loans is not productive nor efficient. In a larger organization with more funds, you can grant loans of $2,000 and above. In a small micro-credit organization granting loans of $200 to $400, you can see that it would take 5 to 10 loans to equal only one in a larger outfit. That's why some of the larger MFIs have left the field of micro-credit.
Thanks to organizations such as www.kiva.org and all its investors' support of micro-loans, we can continue to service this segment of society. Without this help, we as an organization with limited resources would be hard pressed to continue our work. Thank you, thank you.
Well, on another note, Wednesday brought us a surprising invitation. The President of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, spent an hour with Orbelina Valeriano (Prisma President and GM of Prisma Honduras), Lucy Escoto (Office Administrator), and Susan Velasquez (Branch Supervisor), talking about micro-finance and the obstacles faced during the last few years and in the future. In particular, they discussed the lack of credit facilities for small MFIs as the current banks and government funding affiliates are still channeling most funds towards the large MFIs.
Final Note: Annie turned out to be the daughter of the President. A complete surprise to us when she arrived at our office with her own security detail. Not a problem - she was welcomed with open arms.