Unexpected Surprise: A Meeting With Borrowers
By Lorin Alvarez, KF13, Senegal
I had been in Dakar for about ten days when last Thursday I met with the Kiva co-coordinator Yacine Diop at U-IMCEC, one of Kiva’s partners here in Senegal. Yacine who’s been with U-IMCEC for many years and is a great fan of Kiva, works out of one of the local branches of IMCEC-Dakar, in the neighborhood of Yoff. During our meeting, she mentioned that there was an inauguration ceremony at one of the Kiva funded group enterprises that very afternoon that she had been invited to and asked if I would like to accompany her. I jumped at the chance. Then, she showed me AYADY’s (L’Association des Femmes And Defar Yoff) borrower profile that had gone up on Kiva’s website on October 31st, seeking $1,500 to purchase supplies they needed to start a local cereal production operation, right here in Yoff. The loan having been fully funded within 24 hours by Kiva lenders, the group had already purchased all the necessary supplies and was set to start production on Friday – the next day. But first, they were going to have an official ceremony.
At about 5 p.m. a member of the IMCEC credit committee, Yacine and I took the short walk around the corner from their office to a community center where AYADY has set up its operations. The supplies that had been purchased were on display – from raw materials such as sugar and rice to cooking utensils to plastic bags for packaging. As Yacine introduced me to one member after another as the “Kiva representative” about 20 women greeted and welcomed me. The president of the group Mrs. Fatou Moussa Diene, an energetic woman who seemed to be everywhere all at once explained to me the steps involved in making cereal. The process takes 3 days. The fourth day is spent packaging the product in 1 or 5 kilo plastic bags (approximately 2 lbs to 10 lbs, respectively.) The product is then ready to be sold in the neighborhoods. They have divided Yoff into 8 zones with one member overseeing the sales activity in each zone. Mrs. Diene said that once cereal production is set in place and running smoothly, they plan to expand into soap manufacturing as well.
After taking a couple of group photos surrounded by the supplies made possible by Kiva loans, the ceremony started. In addition to the President of AYADY, the representatives of IMCEC, and a few community leaders took their seats at the dais. They quickly added a chair for the “Kiva representative.” There were a series of speeches by everyone around the table as well as several from the audience. At one point, the representative of APECSY – the Association Pour La Promotion Economique, Culturelle et Sociale de Yoff (The Association of Economic, Cultural & Social Development of Yoff) – broke into French to thank Kiva for all its support. As a Kiva Fellow and the Kiva representative on the spot, I found myself in the unexpected position of having to make a little speech. One speaker after another spoke about the value of the women in the group partnering with one another and pulling their resources together with the goal of improving economic and social conditions for their families and their community. It was very encouraging to see that the community itself has given its full support to AYADY. These ladies are on their way……
As a new Kiva Fellow, being a part of such a ceremony where I was able to witness first hand, the impact of a Kiva loan at the ground level was extremely rewarding. I felt very proud to be the “Kiva representative.” I will think of these ladies, their energy and their enthusiasm every time I hit an impasse when tackling a “deliverables” on my list….
Lorin Alvarez is a Kiva Fellow currently working with two of Kiva’s Senegalese field partners: CAURIE and U-IMCEC