By Joanne Gan, Mitra Usaha Kecil in Bali, Indonesia
On an island paradise where surfers from around the world come to catch the best waves, and honeymooners flock, I knew that volunteering in Bali as a Kiva Fellow I would see distinct contrasts in the lives of the people on this island.
While differences exist, however, these MUK borrowers have a common desire: to take out a small loan to improve their businesses, and increase their incomes. Putu’s group members may not have as large an enterprise as hers, but many of them hope to add another piglet to their business (through profits earned or access to increased capital) – which will allow them to grow their incomes, and invest in a better life for them and their children. The process of growing income for many borrowers is incremental, particularly as the small loans are used in largely low-risk, low-return businesses…but can be life-changing.
On Friday, I met Jo, an MUK (formerly Dinari) borrower for over seven years. His loans had allowed him to grow his bamboo housing supplies business, and his increased profits had gone toward saving for his children’s education and in slowly transforming his house. In the place of an old brick house with concrete floors now stands a concrete house with white marble tiled floors. His children will hopefully go to university, an opportunity he was never afforded. His story affirmed my belief in microfinance – while it may not be able to erase all inequalities, it can lead to real and significant change.
Joanne Gan is currently working as a Kiva Fellow.
Joanne's story was originally posted on "Kiva Stories from the Field" on September 5, 2010. To see the original post, please click here.