Friday, March 12, 2010

Welcome New Congolese Partner – Hekima!

Kiva is excited to welcome our newest field partner Hekima, our second partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the first working in the country’s eastern Kivu Regions. This area has been marked by over a decade of war as well as social, economic and institutional collapse. A complex legal and regulatory environment is further complicated by widespread corruption and a market flooded with poor quality microfinance suppliers.

In the city of Goma, where Hekima is based, many people are still recovering from the 2002 eruption of the Nyiragongo Volcano, which destroyed much of the city and left over 100,000 people homeless. Within this challenging environment, Hekima is striving to be a sustainable, innovative microfinance institution of the highest quality, serving Eastern Kivu’s economically active poor, with special attention to the female entrepreneurs.

Hekima follows the group lending methodology, which allows for disbursement of loans to clients lacking conventional collateral. The majority of Hekima’s 13,000 clients benefit from the community bank product which allows for loans as small as $14 to be repaid over a four month term. Successful clients may qualify for graduation into the solidarity group product that provides higher loan amounts and a longer term.

Hekima’s staff did an amazing job during Kiva training this week. Training sessions usually take place at a field partners’ offices, which allows for a better understanding of the work environment, and the opportunity to interview clients and start practicing Kiva processes such as posting borrower profiles. Ongoing security concerns in Goma forced Hekima’s training session to take place across the Rwandan border, in the resort town of Gisenyi.

From a stunning and surreal location near the shores of Lake Kivu, Hekima’s staff shared their enthusiasm for the institution and its future ambitions to expand outreach and impact within eastern DRC. They considered how to apply Kiva’s many policies (for example parameters associated with loan limits and photo requirements, repayment reporting and borrower journals) and demonstrated them on Hekima’s first loan on Kiva - the first-ever Kiva loan featuring clients from the eastern DRC!

Stay tuned for more loans featuring Hekima’s entrepreneurs soon.