Mary, far left, with the Sisal Sisters borrower group in Kakuyuni, near Tala, Kenya
The second day I was in Kenya I had the good fortune to spend the day with KADET staff profiling the top loan officer at the agency, Mary Ngenya, who works in the Tala region. Mary is considered THE BEST of approximately 80 loan officers in the entire organization which has offices all over Kenya; she manages one of the largest loan portfolios in the organization and in the six years since she’s been with KADET, her portfolio has consistently had the fewest loans at risk, known as Portfolio At Risk (PAR). So what makes Mary so great?
- People skills. Her borrowers, like David, the first officer of his borrower group, praised her ability to relate to them.
David, first officer of the Raizi borrowers group, praises Mary’s people skills
- Business Savvy. Not only does she take the time (and it’s a lot of time since she travels to rather remote areas down rough roads by motorcycle taxi) to visit her borrower groups frequently, she also learns their strengths and skills by observing and listening to them and the rest of the group. As she gets to know them, she may make business suggestions. A great example is Elisabeth, mother of two, widow, caretaker of orphans, and the leader of Sisal Sisters in Kakuyuni, near Tala. Mary identified her strong but quiet leadership skills as well as her baking skills and Elisabeth is now preparing to sell her baked goods to others.
Mary and Elisabeth conferring during a group meeting
- People skills. This just can’t be emphasized enough. The Sisal Sisters in Kakuyuni shared with us that Mary encouraged them all to be honest and up-front with their husbands and families about their business loans. They felt their honesty had been rewarded with more open communication from their families resulting in a more harmonious home life.
Elisabeth with the baskets she makes when she isn’t farming, working, or looking after family
After completing the profile of Mary, the KADET communications officer, Katherine, will share her “best practices” with all the other loan officers to help them improve their own performance.
Seeing loan officers like Mary, who care deeply about their clients and their success, makes me believe in the power of one person to make a difference. If you are a believer in the power of one, you can join KADET by making a loan to one of their borrowers.
This is one of my Kiva Fellow Blog posts. To see even better posts from the other fellows, click here.