A Good Way to Handle Meeting Latecomers

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.

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