As one of 11 FINCA Fellows, I am responsible for carrying out FINCA’s Client Assessment Research in Guatemala. This year, the FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT) focuses on job creation and household expenditures, which serve as a proxy for income. With the data on household expenditures, FINCA will be able to evaluate if they are fulfilling the first part of their mission, to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs. With the data on job creation, FINCA will have a better idea of their performance regarding the second part of their mission, helping these low-income entrepreneurs create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living.
The most rewarding part of my work is conducting client interviews. Learning first-hand about the cost of life for these entrepreneurs is both humbling and inspirational. One FINCA client who I met on Tuesday was particularly memorable. She owned a business making corn tortillas and when she pulled up a little plastic chair to sit in during our interview her cheeks were still flush from the heat of the wood fire. She had begun by making tortillas for her friends and, encouraged by their feedback, decided to take out a loan with FINCA. She described her FINCA loan as “the little push” she needed. She now sells 100 pounds of tortillas every two days. When asked to choose a word to sum up what it was like to work with FINCA, she chose bonita, which loosely translates as “lovely.”