Talking with small entrepreneurs is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do in Tajikistan. These conversations constantly remind me of the difficult realities faced everyday by the people of this country. Everyone I’ve met so far has experienced serious hardship in their lives… for example; women entrepreneurs often tell me that their husbands have been away for a long time, working in Russia. Not all of their husbands are able to send money home on a regular basis, and the wives are left to figure out how to derive regular incomes, while also learning to deal with not always having a shoulder to lean on in difficult life moments.
I’m very inspired by the resilience and optimism of FINCA clients that I meet. Most of them exhibit an overwhelming desire that is coupled with boundless effort to help themselves, despite their difficult circumstances that many of us would consider to be insurmountable. These poor entrepreneurs don’t like to complain. They are very motivated, hopeful, and most have concrete plans for the future. Many of them want to pay their loans early so that FINCA will know they are reliable clients. Their goal is to be considered creditworthy enough to receive a larger loan from FINCA the next time they apply, so that they can implement their business expansion plans. They are ready to work hard for their future and build prosperity. FINCA is making a difference in these poor people’s lives, and this fact sounds most convincing when it comes directly from the people whose lives FINCA impacts. I am very fortunate to have experienced the undeserved honor of accepting thanks on behalf of FINCA from each client I talk to.
“Talking to clients really helps you learn what is really happening in Tajikistan – how this country lives and breathes”, said Firuz Nodirshoev, a loan officer at FINCA’s Dushanbe branch. There’s a lot of truth in what he said, and I am very grateful for the unparalleled opportunity to learn more about microfinance, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Tajik poor, and about working in the field and international development in general.