Wednesday, September 2, 2009

4 your consideration ;)

Dear reader, the forthcoming account is destined, dedicated and devoted to my work, work place, co-workers, working hours and work days, my ambitions to become a workaholic and my daily work-out :D
First, my work: Microfinance..well, I guess my opinion might be a bit biased since I’m passionate about this particular topic for more than 3 years now. Nonetheless a very short overview shall be given here to the esteemed follower of this blog. Now that I’m “all in” there basically is only one thing to say: IT’S FANTASTIC! What? Now that was too short of an overview? Ok, then I guess I’ll have to dive in a bit deeper then ;)
MF – it’s a great idea! After 30 years of largely inefficient and “from time to time” even contra productive development aid – especially in Africa – the approach of MF seems almost too good to be true, too easy to understand..too accessible on every level: “The help for self-help”. I’m making an effort here to not simply copy Obama’s campaign slogan though it would resume quite appropriately the very fundament MF is based upon, i.e. attributing Third World countries’ largely self-employed poor the capacity of entrepreneurship! Defying all erroneous clichés, reality proves to be their best attorney, for they ARE laborious! From AM to PM, on every road, field or marketplace you would meet a buzzing swarm of street vendors, traders, tailors, transporters, craftsmen, and all sorts of helping out wherever required (or not ;) – need someone to look after your car, giving you parking advice, or simply show you the way around the next corner ;p at your disposal even before you’d have to utter a single word.
Long story short, people are looking for opportunities no matter the particular shape they might present themselves – you will find a willingness to progress often far greater than for the average European middle management prospect. I am truly amazed, every single time I’m leaving the office to see a client or to do some direct promotion by the mixture of simplicity and complexity of the local economy. One example: What is used a rice field in one season becomes the source of clay production when all the rice would be harvested. It is so simple and yet genius…well, at least to me it is :D

Ok, making the 180 and getting back on track. MF – I feel a deep satisfaction in being part of the ongoing economic, social and personal development it allows and thus can fully identify myself with the work I’m doing for AccèsBanque despite the clear commercial goals pursued. In fact, making development work financially attractive for “westerners” (and eventually for local investors) is the only sensible way in today’s mindset in order to permit a sustainable activity that would function independently of external influx of donations and grants.
So far I’ve been following the training for and with the local loan officers of the 8th generation (for about 3 weeks) and for a good week I’m now following my “loan buddy” (a more experienced – but not necessarily older – loan officer LO) around like a little puppy ;p In my case I’m so lucky as to learn from the most productive of all our ACs (agents de credit). Oh, between visiting clients, analyzing credit applications and making the respective proposals we even find time and ways to teach me some Malagasy *strike* Every day brings something entirely new, a challenge, an opportunity to grow. Ok, I can see that that sounds exceedingly cheesy, but hey I’m not here to win the Pulitzer and I’m counting on you to endure the “literary raclette” served on this blog ;) Shall we proceed now to the second point?
2 – Leo’s work place: our branch in Andavamamba (the “a’s” are being pronounces like Brits do, the “v” is an interesting mix between “w” and a whistled “f”….I never really know – clear? J). Effectively we are not spending too much time in the office though as the regular client visits, making up for a good third of an AC’s daily scheduling, are complemented by the early monthly cold callings aka “catch the client” :D The latter, as fun as it COULD be, usually does not figure among the favorite tasks our ACs cope with. Consequently, the number of individuals who actually excel in this largely disliked discipline is fleeting small. And “consequently” for a second time (and mostly because the salesman/woman is practically innate “Wolle Rose gaufn??” :p ), I’ve been asked to accompany some of the LO into the fields and find ways to initiate more curiosity and hence fun in communicating with our clients..the baseline? Be natural..and dive into the flow of conversation :D Aller Anfang ist schwer but eventually we made it and how amazing it is to see the smile of success on the LOs’ faces succeeding despite the initial skepticism. This said, it is a tightrope walk, balancing between implied authority and capability (for all German-speaker: die deutsche Doppeldeutigkeit der “Kompetenz” kommt dem vergleichend wohl am aehnlichesten).
3 – Co-workers: soooooooooooooo friendly! With the right amount of enthusiasm and questions the interest becomes quickly mutual and eventually an excellent basis for further friendship development J Oh, but I was supposed to primarily present my co-WORKERS, not potential friends, right? ...well, I’d say it is easy to work with people around here. Team-oriented, confrontation-avoiding, cooperative…mostly you’d find our staff open-minded – eventually at least ;p From time to time though one has to show some persistence to get an unfamiliar idea through…as I’ve just mentioned, it is not always the easiest task to find that balance between “what can…” and “what should you tell” the staff, for your as expat counts at least twice.

Working hours: from around 8 to 4 or 5 – depending on the tasks, location and individual scheduling.
Working days: Monday to Friday, lately also Saturdays..
Workaholic – how to be(come) one: I take it  the new projects I’ll be working on beginning this month are going to shift considerably more working hours into my spare time – looking forward to it!
The daily workout…ever took a look at the city’s topology?? (   switch to “terrain” or “earth” J)
Uff, that was a loooooooooooooong entry for everyone..time to rest now.

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