By Mien De Graeve, West Africa Client Relationship Manager
Zidisha lenders and Zidisha borrowers are communicating with each other every day, thanks to the wonderful World Wide Web. Real-life meetings between lenders and borrowers are rare though, and probably what happened last week in Ouagadougou was unique! Sigmund Elias Holm, a resident of Norway, booked a ten-day trip to the capital of Burkina Faso to attend FESPACO, the biennial pan-African Film Festival, together with a friend. He had been lending through various microcredit sites before and only recently discovered Zidisha. He also found out that Zidisha has a lending program in Burkina Faso and he decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to learn more!
No sooner said than done. He wrote an email to Zidisha and quickly got in touch with me. As you may know I am Client Relationship Manager in Burkina Faso since last September. We met last week in the beautiful garden of a guesthouse in Ouagadougou and I did my best answering many questions about Zidisha and about what makes Zidisha so very different from other microfinance initiatives. Nothing is more convincing though than seeing something with your own eyes. That is why we visited one of the active borrowers in Ouagadougou, Mrs. Safiatou Dao (check out her borrower profile at https://www.zidisha.org/microfinance/loan/DAOSafiatou/1298.html). Mrs. Dao runs a small restaurant, where she serves breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon, and fresh drinks (including delicious bissap, made from hibiscus flowers and mint) all day. Thanks to her first Zidisha loan Mrs. Dao was able to build an extra shed next to her “kiosque,” buy extra tables and chairs, and some new plates and cutlery. Since the enlargement of her restaurant Mrs. Dao saw her clientele growing steadily. Many employees from the offices around and students from the schools nearby appreciate that they now have a place to sit down quietly to enjoy a simple but delicious homemade meal. That was exactly what we did as well, while chatting with Mrs. Dao. She felt really honoured with the visit, and I bet Zidisha has two more loyal lenders!
Zidisha lender Sigmund Elias Holm in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso