Featured Field Partner: IMON International
An IMON Borrower - Photo Credit: IMON International
By Staci Chirchick, Review and Translation Program Intern
IMON aims to: Provide entrepreneurs with access to high-quality financial products and services such as business loans, agro loans, consumer loans, and micro leases; attract high-quality employees and promote their professional development; and maintain a sustainable and self-sufficient microfinance institution.
Kiva Field Partner since: December 2007
Loans through Kiva: $5,546,650
Number of entrepreneurs assisted through Kiva: 4,712
Mission: “To promote sustainable economic development and improved quality of life in Tajikistan by insuring reliable access to financial services for the economically active members of the population.”
IMON International has many entrepreneurs in the transportation sector. In Tajikistan, the infrastructure in place has been decaying for some time. There are no trains, or long-distance buses, and very few plane routes. To top that off, it is an extremely mountainous country, so car travel can take quite a long time. However, this is the way that most people get around. Kiva Fellow, Chris Paci says, "It's got to be tough to spend so many hours on the road every day, to pull 12- and 14-hour days to bring home enough money for their families, and, if they're long-haul taxi drivers, to spend nights away from their wives and kids. But even so, I've found my taxi drivers here to be entrepreneurial, energetic, endearingly dismissive of the rules of the road, and well worth the support from Kiva lenders!"
One of the larger obstacles that IMON faces is the huge number of borrowers that live in extremely rural places. These villages tend to be very isolated and atop mountains with only gravel roads. IMON has been extremely innovative with how they reach these people. They have embraced technology by enabling internet access in all of their branches, which is extremely uncommon among microfinance institutions (MFIs). Last year, they implemented a repayment system through mobile pay kiosks, which are everywhere on the sidewalks of Tajikistan.
Too Much Microfinance?
One obstacle that IMON and other MFIs face is that microfinance has grown very rapidly. There are over 100 MFIs and a country population of only 7 million. This growth leads to a lot of competition between the MFIs to attract new clients. This can put the MFIs and the clients at risk because with so many options for loans, clients can easily become overindebted. IMON is fortunate in that they are one of the largest MFIs in the country, serving 36% of microfinance clients, making them more stabilized.
Women at IMON
IMON offers free financial literacy workshops geared specifically towards starting up new businesses for women. These programs are designed to empower women in Tajikistan’s conservative society.