Saturday, March 31, 2012

Zambia - March 2012

Christian Empowerment Microfinance (CEMFIN), PEER Servants' Zambian microfinance partner, is just about ready to make their first loans!  That led Team Zambia volunteer Ken Lloyd and PEER Servants President Todd Engelsen to travel to Zambia in March 2012 to provide the final training that would prepare CEMFIN for launch.

CEMFIN staff and Advisory Board members in front of the office in Mongu, Zambia.
CEMFIN is based in Mongu, in Zambia's Western Province.  This is considered Zambia's materially poorest province and a great place to establish a strong Christian MFI.  The CEMFIN team, led by Executive Director, pastor Alick Kalonga, has been woring hard for literally years to launch CEMFIN, having finally received formal approval from the Bank of Zambia in late 2011.

Ken and his wife, Phyllis, were SIM missionaries in Zambia and came to love and be loved by the Zambian people.  As Ken and Phyllis asked the Zambian leaders "what is your vision?", their response was "teach us how to establish our own businesses, so that we can better meet our own needs, that of our church, and play a greater role in extending the kingdom even beyond Zambia".  CEMFIN was born -- a Zambian Christian microfinance organization with a Zambian board, staff, and as of May 2012, clients!

Ken and Todd focused this trip on training the three CEMFIN staff members (Pastor Kalonga, Mike Kasoko, and Harriet Chibale) and members of the Mongu Advisory Board (a local governing board established by the Lusaka-based Board of Directors) in key aspects of microfinance operations - how to design products that clients will want, how to manage the risks of making a loan, how to administer the making and repayment of loans using microfinance software, and how to integrate a spiritual growth component so that CEMFIN is not just about meeting material needs.  Both Mike and Harriet have past microfinance experience and are very well-equipped to handle CEMFIN operations.  We focused on aspects of effective governance with the Advisory Board members.  They, too, are going to be an integral element in the success of CEMFIN.

While the trip focused on microfinance training, it was blessed with fantastic fellowship with our gracious Zambian hosts.  Every evening was one spent in great Christian fellowship and delicious Zambian cuisine.  We enjoyed worshiping with them on Sunday.  The good Lord even allowed us to see a leopard as we traveled through Kafue National Park to Mongu at the beginning of the trip.  These were wonderful days in Zambia, and we look forward to perhaps you being able to join us on a trip to Zambia in the days ahead!

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