A day of microloans

Expect a more substantial/better thought-out post on microfinance soon, but in the meantime: I spent the day with Investours, a non-profit set-up that combines tourism and microfinance. It’s a kind of a Dragon’s Den for well-meaning tourists who don’t necessarily know anything about business (nor about Tanzania) but who can decide which tiny business will get their money on the day they visit. It’s an unusual approach and one that is about to take off, it seems: already established in Mexico, they’re also looking to launch in other East African countries and Asia.

In the meantime though I’m getting into microfinance in a more direct way. This morning one of the guards asked to borrow money again. He always repays it. I tried to think of ways to give him some work so that I could give him money he wouldn’t have to repay, and decided to ask him to help me buy plants and pots and carry them back to my house. We did all that a few weeks ago – and then he refused payment anyway. At least I have some nice plants – but Peter is still broke.

This evening, my Swahili conversation teacher told me had the money that he’d borrowed last week. I’d been reluctant to lend it to him and spent a long time trying to figure out why it bothered me so much, when the amount he had asked for, in itself, meant little to me. Another, better thought-out, blog post on that issue coming soon as well. It’s anything but micro, though, so the thoughts and questions are still swirling about.

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