Monday, August 2, 2010

Update from Kiva Fellow in Bolivia

My name is Alexis Guild and I have had the privilege of working with the
staff of IMPRO over the past three months as a Kiva fellow. As you may
know, all entrepreneur profiles on Kiva's web site are posted by local
field partners (microfinance institutions) such as IMPRO, which are
organizations that lend to the working poor to help lift themselves out
of poverty.

You are receiving this e-mail because you have made a Kiva loan through
IMPRO and we thought you might be interested in learning more about this
Kiva partner.

IMPRO is a small, family-run NGO (non-governmental organization) that
works in the cities of La Paz, El Alto and the surrounding rural areas.
The partnership with Kiva, which began in 2007, has allowed IMPRO to
expand their services while maintaining low interest rates. Bolivia,
which is known for its expansive and relatively successful microfinance
sector, is a competitive marketplace. IMPRO has been able to distinguish
itself through its customer service and varied loan products beyond
microenterprise such as health and education loans. The most distinctive
and perhaps the most successful loan product offered by IMPRO is their
"Mejoramiento de Habitat y Vivienda" (Housing and Living Conditions
Improvement) program.

What distinguishes this program from other loan products is that the
lead loan officer, Enrique, is also a trained architect. He dedicates
himself exclusively to the "Mejoramiento de Habitat y Vivienda" program.
Beyond credit consultation and monitoring of the loan, Enrique also
offers his professional services advising the clients on such issues as
design as well as the type and cost of materials.

Meet Eufracio Mita, one of IMPRO's housing loan clients (pictured, in
the red jacket). He used his loan to start construction on a bathroom in
the house he lives in and to repair the bedroom walls of a second house
he rents out. While he encountered some difficulties due to the
increased price of labor, he has been able to complete this
construction. In describing his relationship with IMPRO, he thanked
Enrique for his advice and help as he gathered the necessary materials.
The repairs allowed him to improve the quality of life of his family.
Not only did the value of the houses increase, but he also was able to
ensure the continued additional income of the house he rents out. In the
future he hopes to continue with the construction of his home, building
a second story to create more living space. Eventually, he told us, he
hopes his children will be able to live in the house he currently rents

Eufracio's relationship with Enrique is not unique at IMPRO. The loan
officers and other dedicated staff, many of whom have worked with the
organization for more than 10 years, pride themselves on their high
quality of customer service. I have continually been impressed with the
commitment of the staff to their clients. On numerous visits with
various loan officers, I have seen the warmth and trust built in the
relationship with the client. To the clients, the IMPRO loan officers
are also friends.

My experience over the past three months has shown me that microfinance
is about more than providing loans – it is about providing
opportunities and building relationships. You, as a Kiva lender, play an
important role in this relationship (hopefully you have received or will
receive an update on a loan you supported). Each time I explained Kiva
to a client, they were impressed and honored by the wide breadth of
support from all over the world. Some even asked for the web site
address so they could see Kiva for themselves. Your impact is tangible.

On behalf of the IMPRO loan officers and staff, I would like to thank
you for your continued support. Please consider joining the Friends of IMPRO lending
team to keep up with currently fundraising loans and to connect with
other IMPRO lenders.

It has been an honor working with Kiva and the entrepreneurs in Bolivia.


Alexis Guild

KF11, Bolivia

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