South Asia is home to two of the larger microfinance partners of PEER Servants - the Christian Service Society (CSS) in Kolkata, India and YGRO-HEED throughout Sri Lanka. A PEER Servants team of six - Board Chair Dave Ryder, his daughter Patty Ryder, PEER Servants MIS Director Dave Leach, PEER Servants Team Sri Lanka volunteers Ramesh and Sheba Telore, and President Todd Engelsen - visited these two partners in February 2012.
CSS/India serves almost 20,000 clients on the outskirts of Kolkata. They serve the very materially poor, starting with loans less than $25. Virtually all of their beneficiaries or clients live in Hindu or Muslim villages. They have many different kinds of businesses - rice farming, tailoring/embroidery, raising livestock, jewelry making, and so much more. Where this is our newest microfinance partner, the focus of this visit was to get to know CSS, their board, staff, and clients, even better. Dave Leach also provided MIS consulting on a new loan tracking system CSS is installing. We also had strategic planning discussions to map out the way CSS could have even greater impact in the days ahead.
|YGRO-HEED/Sri Lanka client in a tsunami-affected area.|
Then on to Colombo, Sri Lanka with a stop in Mumbai, to pick up Ramesh and Sheba. In Sri Lanka we joined YGRO-HEED in celebrating their recent accomplishment of not only becoming operationally sustainable (covering all of their operating costs with their operating revenue), but passing the 1,000 mark in current active clients (with well over 5,000 clients served since inception of the program). We provided training in how to have an even greater transformative impact while helping them map out next steps in their MIS loan tracking software installation and identifying steps they could take to better manage risk. Then it was on to the eastern part of the country where we were impressed with the work being done in the Batticaloa branch serving hundreds of clients that were in the area hit very hard by the 2004 tsunami.