Micro-finance Means Community in East Africa
By Brittany Boroian, Kiva Fellow Class 12 with Faulu Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya
Hello Kiva readers! My name is Brittany Boroian, and this is my first post on the Kiva Fellows blog! I am a Class 12 Kiva Fellow working with Faulu Kenya, one of the largest micro-finance institutions in Kenya. I have worked with micro-finance in Asia and South America, and this is my first time to Africa.
I’ve only been in Kenya a few days, but one realization that has been apparent to me immediately in East Africa is the sense of community with your co-workers.
I think that the United States especially (I am American) is a very individualized society. While I was working with companies in the United States, I noticed that people tended to work more independently on their own projects. Americans are more inclined to try to figure things out themselves and compete with their co-workers, treating their jobs as if it were a race. Even while working with micro-finance in South America and Asia, I saw that most workers attended to their own affairs, only helping one another if it was asked. In East Africa (or at least, at Faulu Kenya), this is not the case at all. There is a total sense of community here that I haven’t felt at any other organization I’ve worked with.
I am currently working in a room with six other people- only two of them work with Kiva, and the rest are all research analysts. I started off one morning with one of the Kiva employees, going over Faulu Kenya’s interviewing sheets (these are used for posting information about borrower’s loans on Kiva’s website). Soon, the research analysts were glancing over my shoulder, offering suggestions- and quite suddenly, it turned into a major brainstorming session in which nearly everyone in the room participated. Each person had something valuable to add that I hadn’t even considered, while offering their input based on what they know about Kenyans. I came away from the impromptu meeting brimming with excitement and new ideas.
The sense of unity here has been amazing. I’m still getting used to all of the handshakes- every time someone enters our room, they walk around to each desk and extend out a hand and a warm smile as a greeting. ‘This is the Kenyan way,’ my Kiva coordinator chuckles. ‘We are very friendly people.’
I think I’m going to like the way these friendly Kenyans do their business.
Brittany Boroian is a Class 12 Kiva Fellow, based in Nairobi, Kenya. She recently graduated from Global College, with a bachelor’s in Global Studies and Economic Development. Support Faulu Kenya by joining their Lending Team on the Kiva website!