March 8 is International Women’s Day and we’d like to spotlight some of our microfinance partners’ incredible field officers for the contributions they make to their institutions and the microcredit clients (borrowers) they serve. This year we have 14 award winners for the Asia/Pacific Region, half of which are women. In general, the field officers at our Asia/Pacific partner institutions are serving a client population which is about 99% women.
Many partners mentioned the especially strong portfolios that were managed by their nominees – perfect or near perfect repayment, large portfolios, savings mobilization, etc. However, these indicators are only the baseline for this group of exceptional nominees who have gone above and beyond for their clients and their institutions. Like the recent Africa/Middle East Edition – let’s highlight how these field officers have demonstrated dedication, creativity, inclusiveness and leadership in exceptional ways!
For field officers, traveling long distances on bad roads to reach remote clients is part of their normal duties. Ms. Qian Minxing at CZWSDA in China actually learned how to drive so that she could cover the 180km distance from her branch to an especially remote area. During her frist trip, she spent the night there and enrolled 51 new clients in two days! At SPBD Solomon Islands, Mr. Nathan Parkinson often travels by boat to reach his clients.
Field officers also build up strong relationships with their clients after working with them over long periods of time. Vision Fund Mongolia shared how their nominee, Ms. Solongo Ganbaatar, has helped one of her first clients grow her bakery business to the level of having 2 employees over her 3 years at VFM.
According to the client, pictured below, “Whatever Solongo does, she does with all of her heart and mind, and always gives me advice. I am grateful for her, and I feel she is like a family member of mine.”
Field officers like Mr. Chawalit Kaewkanha at Small Enterprise Development in Thailand, have gone beyond their basic duties of disbursing and collecting loans and savings to provide enterprise development opportunities to their clients. Mr. Gayan Sanjeewa at Berendina enrolled 380 clients in Enterprise Development Services in Sri Lanka! He introduced betel (leaf) cultivation as a new income generating activity to 11 clients and conducted 11 financial literacy trainings. Mr. Atowar Rahman at GMPF Bangladesh has provided advice and training to clients about livestock (such as dairy cattle management, hygienic milking and high yielding grass cultivation).
These field officers also connect clients to useful opportunities in their communities. For example, Ms. Huynh Thi Ngoc Quy from Mekong Plus successfully mobilized the People’s Committee of Ham Minh Commune, Vietnam to build a new house for one of the clients in the “very poor” program.
These exceptional field officers have also reached out to those who are especially marginalized, sick or victims of natural disasters. BRAC Myanmar nominated Ms. Hnin Htet Moe Hlaing specifically for her work targeting marginalized communities for their program.
TYM in Vietnam shared a very compelling example from their nominee, Ms. Vu Thi Lien, who helped out when one of her clients was in the hospital. Ms. Lien rearranged her schedule to pick up her client’s daughter at school, raised money to buy the daughter a bicycle and shared the responsibilities for her client’s animal husbandry business among the group during her hospital stay.
And Ms. Rejeili Biu Koto of SPBD Fiji mobilized to help those affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston. According to the SPBD General Manager, she worked tirelessly to serve clients at this time, distributing relief packs and also maintained a large portfolio and perfect repayment.
Nominated field officers also serve as leaders within their institutions. At Chamroeun in Cambodia, Mr. Sao Sokkheng’s commitment to client outreach and repayment helped lead his branch as the top performing branch in 2017. At SPBD Samoa, Mr. Filipo Tiatia, frequently steps into the Branch Manager position in his absence.
At KOMIDA, Ms. Tuti Susanti has also taken on multiple roles within the organization. She actually started as a microcredit client, got a job in the office administration and then finally as a Field Officer. Now she has the opportunity to work directly with people such as herself, who were affected by the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia.
A note on the process: We asked all of our 20 Asia/Pacific microfinance partners to internally nominate their strongest field officer and submit her or his story to WPF for consideration in the competition. (Some of our partners have literally hundreds of staff, consider the honor of being the nominee from Nirdhan in Nepal, Mr. Ram Prasad Chaudhary, who was selected from a total of over 400 field officers!) Overall, WPF was thrilled to receive submissions from 14 partners! The entire Whole Planet Foundation team took part in a vote to recognize the best among the best. This year we awarded 5 grand prize winners and 9 honorable mention winners.
Congratulations to all of our partners’ hard-working Field Officers!