Once we were back in the car, I got to learn more about her story. Perizat is now on her 6th loan with FMCC and her family is thriving because of the opportunity the funds provided her, and a lot of hard work. As a newlywed, her first loan was the equivalent of $950 CAD. Her and her husband used this money to finish building their first family home. Once she made her final repayment on her first loan, she took out an agricultural loan followed by four animal husbandry loans. With each consecutive loan, she was able to buy more livestock. The cows she acquired allowed her not only to provide dairy products for her children, but also to provide a sustainable income by selling the dairy products and the cows she raised. Her livestock assets grew, which eventually enabled her husband to buy a small truck. As a result, her husband is now a self-employed lorry driver, bringing in a consistent source of income for the family. Perizat is not only an incredibly hardworking and kind woman, but also a shining example of how microfinance has the ability to improve lives.
Perizat, holding naan she was going to bring to her neighbours, myself and Nurpary.
In that same conversation, I also learnt that Perizat’s relative had asked to borrow money and she had generously given him half of the money from her 3rd loan. The Kyrgyz culture is a collectivist one, where community and family needs are paramount to individual needs. Requests from friends or relatives are almost always fulfilled, regardless of inconvenience or notice. This is why it is often challenging to accumulate savings, because there will always be someone who needs something, and declining to help is not really an option. For this reason, when I learned he had asked Perizat for such a large amount, I was not so surprised. However, what is incredible is that despite her relative moving across the country without ever repaying her, Perizat never missed a payment. This is resilience and further proof that when given the opportunity, women can accomplish just about anything.
My interactions with each client that day were limited, but I am grateful for the opportunity to have met each of them. Back at my desk just a few months later, these visits still influence the marketing proposals I draft and colour how I analyze our client satisfaction data. Microfinance is not the answer to all of the world’s problems, but I have witnessed it helping many hardworking Kyrgyz people. For these families, it has made all the difference.