A Good Way to Handle Meeting Latecomers

23 July 2010 at 12:01 7 comments

By Steve Grey, KF11, Kenya

I recently attended a 4-hour training session for new clients of SMEP, one of Kiva’s lending partners in Kenya.  SMEP did a great job helping these new borrowers understand how the microfinance lending process works and what their responsibilities are as members of 15-person borrower groups.

But it was one of the meeting management techniques that intrigued me.  At the beginning of the 4-hour session (with no break!), the leader asked the 100+ attendees to come up with rules for the meeting.  Apparently this is standard practice, because the rules and fines for breaking them went up on a flip chart in about 2 minutes.  Fines for cell phone use, fines for leaving the meeting, and fines for arriving late.  I thought it was interesting that latecomers had no say in the fine system, but would be its victims.

And sure enough, when people showed up late, they honored the rules and coughed up the required 50 Shillings (about 60 U.S. cents).  You might be wondering, “What do they do with the fines?”.  Well that’s one of the more interesting parts of this system because, at the end of the meeting, the attendees nominate and vote on where to donate the money.  On this day, the group voted to use the 1,800 Shillings in fines (about $22) to buy two large bags of corn meal flour for a local children’s home.

Seems to me that these folks from a small village in Kenya have a better solution to meeting latecomers than any corporate culture in the U.S. that I’ve ever heard of.

Steve Grey is a Kiva Fellow working with SMEP and a few other Kiva lending partners in Kenya.

Entry filed under: Kenya, KF11 (Kiva Fellows 11th Class), Small and Micro-Enterprise Programme (SMEP). Tags: , , , .

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  • 1. CHEBOI THOMAS  |  16 May 2011 at 07:39

    Yes! this is a perfect way of dealing with late comers, Africans, especially,Kenyans have the notion of “Saa ya Mwafrika”.We are in the 2nd decade of 22nd century and still lag behind in several issues, Kudos SMEP!

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  • 3. Scott  |  6 August 2010 at 14:24

    Julia, those of us who can’t imagine 4 hours of non-stop meeting (and think that’s harsh) also can’t imagine walking hours to get there, or walking hours every day to get water, or eating only rice and beans. And that 60 cents is about the same as $50 for most of us as a percent of income. I think its an amazing statement about how seriously they take the importance of that meeting. And their choice to be generous to others in need is no surprise – the poor are usually far more thoughtful to others in need than we tend to be.

  • 4. Julia  |  30 July 2010 at 01:20

    Of course it is a good thing to donate for a good cause but if I had a four hour meeting without a break ahead of me that I had to attend to get myself the loan I needed I would certainly arrive late because if I hate to go somewhere I go slowly. If there is something interesting don´t you think people will show up early? Why no breaks? Of course it is no good if people arrive late but I think I would prefer if there was no entry after the beginning and if you left you would have to come again another time. Of course that depends on how often those meetings are offered in that village. If they are there only once a year the fine method is better of course. I still do not like it.

  • 5. Fehmeen | Microfinance Hub  |  26 July 2010 at 09:04

    Yet another example of the poor having good management skills

  • 6. Jeff  |  23 July 2010 at 12:40

    So many meetings and other functions that I go to don’t start on time so as to wait for latecomers. I like the small village approach!


  • 7. Laura  |  23 July 2010 at 12:38

    I’m going to have to try this!

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