Visiting Opportunity International Clients

Recently Claudia and I visited some OIBM clients in a nearby village.
Every client we met greeted us with a proud smile - proud of the
business that OIBM had helped them to setup. The first person we met was
a man who made buckets and watering cans out of sheet metal.

He explained to us how his loan had enabled him to buy more material, and how he soon had so much business that he needed to hire two more
employees to keep up with demand. We also visited a very young woman
named G.H. Ephraim who had started a very impressive business after
seeing her neighbor successfully do something similar.

OIBM had loaned her money to take her business to the next level, which she certainly was doing. The sign explained explained that her shop built and sold roofing, sofa sets, armchairs and more. She had at least 3 men working for her, and she seemed to efficiently manage it all even with her baby daughter strapped to her back no matter what she was doing. She called it a furniture shop, but I noticed she also had a stand full of relatively expensive bicycle parts for sale. Clearly GH is a serious business woman who knows how to put capital to work.

We spent the afternoon walking through the village hearing all sorts of
similar stories. And they are great stories - stories that resonate with
the American values of hard work and individual success. Indeed whenever
we met someone, we asked her (they were mostly women) what she had hoped
to achieve by getting a loan from OIBM. The answers were great and
mostly similar - to grow my business, to send my children to school.
However, towards the end of the day we met a woman who imposed a radical
shift on my perspective. She ran a five foot by 3 foot mud and cardboard
shop that sold soap and other necessities. When we asked her about her
goals, she said something that we hadn't yet heard - "to improve the
nutrition of my family". Unique, but again this fit comfortably in my
cultural lens, I could almost hear the American mothers saying - "We eat
too much McDonald's, no more frozen pizzas, I am going to buy more fresh
fruits and vegetables from the farmers market." When I asked her if she
had achieved her goals she said yes and explained "we are now able to
eat every day". In an instant my lens was shattered and my perspective
tumbled down from its naive perch. A nutritious diet meant eating. Period. Here is a picture of her with her healthy child.

Later we joined the women for a group meeting under a large acacia tree.
They greeted us with songs and dances. We went on to discuss the
benefits of saving money, but this time I didn't look through my lens of
retirement - we were talking about saving for next week.

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