Madagascar is one of Kiva’s newest territory and I am the lucky first Fellow to ever work in the country and visit Vahatra, Kiva’s Field Partner in Antsirabe.
Vahatra’s mission is to improve the living conditions of poor families living on less than two dollars a day by promoting and assisting with the development of their economic and social autonomy. Vahatra offers microfinance services and training, social assistance, and health insurance.
Being new to the world of microfinance and sub-Saharan Africa, I was fascinated by the high touchpoint operations required to successfully run an MFI in this region. The significant amount of time spent with each borrower to ensure their business activity’s success and thus their loan repayment ability is an indication of why Vahatra considers (and calls) each of their borrowers a partner. Vahatra mainly funds small revenue-generating business activities such as chicken and ‘zébu’ breeding, small street stores called ‘gargotes’, fruit and vegetable market vendors, etc.
Here are three Vahatra partners that I had the opportunity to meet:
Through revenues made from the sale of these baskets, Henriette has been able to build a home for her large family composed of more children and grand-children than she can recall.
Through multiple successive micro-loans, Denise has been able to support her family, as a widow, with the profits gained from raising dairy cows, pigs and zébus, and cultivating various vegetables. Denise was excited to share that she was recently able to contribute to her fifth son’s marriage by selling three of her pigs.
Gilbert skillfully turns used truck parts into agricultural tools, offering inexpensive quality options to farmers around Antsirabe. Gilbert is considered one of Vahatra’s model borrowers as he has borrowed and repaid a total of 11 loans which has allowed him to grow his assets by 30 times.
Interested in seeing a snippet of what life is like for Henriette, Denise, Gilbert and the majority in Madagascar? Here's a short video produced by an awesome social enterprise tackling sanitation challenges in Madagascar, one of two topics that I'll cover in my next blog.