A Microfinance Classroom in the Philippines

24 November 2010 at 08:00 2 comments

In the U.S., there is a great deal of concern about hidden fees from financial service providers. “Read the fine print!” we are warned, because this is where fees and special conditions hide.

In a small village in Antique Province in the Philippines, I witnessed an entirely different approach. I accompanied staff from Ahon sa Hirap (ASHI) for the training of a new member. Potential borrowers are required to attend several days of training on interest rates, the different types and levels of loans, and the mechanics of group lending in order to be accepted as an ASHI member.

While only one woman was new, her entire group attended the training session. This is required by ASHI in order to reinforce the solidarity of the group and to help members refresh their knowledge. Not that they needed refreshing—the current members were quick to provide even the most minute details on ASHI loans.

The Development Officer used stories, quizzes and repetition to ensure that each concept was well understood. My favorite part was the use of props (rice as money, small purses as savings accounts) to demonstrate the loan process. While it’s important to “read the fine print,” it doesn’t really sink in until you’re counting out handfuls of rice to represent your principal, interest, savings and insurance contributions. Imagine a credit card company doing this!

I don't think he gets it

Casey Koppelson is a Roaming Kiva Fellow focusing on Social Performance in the Philippines.

Entry filed under: Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI), blogsherpa, KF13 (Kiva Fellows 13th Class), Philippines. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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  • 1. tinkgunn  |  24 November 2010 at 10:54

    Nice post Casey, I enjoyed it.

    Later on in my fellowship I’m going to be attending some “Credit with Education” loan disbursal meetings, so it will be interesting to see how the training compares across continents! I’ll share it on the blog too.

    Hope you’re enjoying yourself out there,


  • 2. howard zugman  |  24 November 2010 at 08:18

    Hi Casey,

    Thanx for the great post. Another benefit for us lenders in getting involved with Kiva loans is that we have the opportunity to learn a little more about the financial world that we live in. Imagine the Kiva borrowers someday giving classes (over the Internet, of course) to the Kiva lenders on “things to be aware of when taking out a loan for yourself.)! Wouldn’t that be a nice turnaround.

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