While you can read about an organization's 'Mission' and 'Vision,' experiencing and witnessing their work on a deeper level forges a more profound connection. For me, their is always one particular moment when the penny drops and I fully understand why an organisation, in this case FINCA, exists.
For me, this moment happened during our time in Tanzania. We were driving down dirt roads in Likamba, en route to meet a group of Maasai women who had come together to form their own village bank. As we followed a motorbike ahead of us through the dense plumes of dust it kicked up, I started to discern hundreds of shimmering rays of light. These beams emanated from tiny mirrors sewn into a woman's dress, and she was perched on the back of the motorbike about 100 feet ahead. She appeared to be glowing. At that moment, I thought to myself, "I hope this is the person we are going to meet."
Neema Godfrey Kapuyo, one of the ladies who had organized a women-only village banking group, had been waiting for us. We trailed her motorbike, and it led us to their small hamlet, surrounded by flatlands and gently sloping hills. When we arrived at their compound, we were greeted in a manner that was exceptionally genuine and joyful, leaving us completely swept up in the warmth of the moment. But these are not the details that had anything to do with grasping the essence of FINCA, it was the relationship between FINCA employee and the Maasai women that really illustrated the humanity behind their mission.
Ana Kivuyo & Naikenayoki Barnaba. Likamba, Tanzania.
Esther. FINCA Tanzania.
Lidya Daudu. Likamba, Tanzania.
During our time in Tanzania, we encountered many other individuals who had partnered with FINCA to expand their businesses. In turn, these businesses had created jobs and brought positive change to their communities.
We visited a bakery in Mringa that was founded by Stella Rajagu. After losing her job working for the Tanzanian Ministry of Tourism during COVID, Stella applied for and received a loan from FINCA that allowed her to start a bakery in her community. She now delivers to scores of shops around the area and recently purchased a delivery truck to meet the growing need
Modesta Mosha employee at East Africa Fruits.
We also visited East Africa Fruits, a successful investee of FINCA Ventures. We spent time at one of their more remote fruit processing centers to learn about the entire process of delivery, processing and shipping of bananas.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of these remote fruit processing facilities as they dramatically cut time and toil for smallholder farmers across Tanzania. Before this expansion, farmers would have to transport their crops (often by motorcycle) to central processing facilities that were often hours away. In addition to the inherent risk to life and limb, the process cost an incredible amount of time, increased spoilage and loss. This center has been so successful that they are doubling its size.
Our experiences in Tanzania underscored the profound impact that fostering genuine connections can have. From the Maasai women's journey towards financial empowerment and their trust building bond with Esther, to the many entrepreneurs and businesses we met that were uplifting their communities with the help of FINCA's support and investment, it became evident that the Missions and Vision of this organization are grounded in the transformative power of trust, compassion, and positive advocacy.
Royal Albert Hall
It was incredible to see the way Esther, the local FINCA staff member responsible for working with rural clients, interacted with the Maasai women. She is a compassionate, confident, and positive advocate for those she serves, individuals whose trust she has earned. She collaborated with them to identify potential financial investments that could unlock the potential of individuals and groups. It was the connection between Esther and the Maasai women that truly helped me connect with FINCA. One of the Maasai women told us that, without Esther, they would never have considered taking a loan to bolster their livestock. For them, trust and effective communication were the missing links when seeking opportunities to enhance their quality of life outside their community. Esther's relationship with the women was not a recent development; the women's banking group had taken out and repaid several loans by now. The impact of these financial services on individuals who were previously labeled as 'the unbanked' was evident. The women shared that these loans had not only improved their livelihood but also positively influenced their health, their ability to provide higher education for their children, and the overall well-being of their community.
Stella Rajagu at her bakery in Mringa, Tanzania