Sorry to anyone who was expecting me to update this more regularly! Things have been really busy and chaotic the last month.
Let's see, I went to Busia Kenya to visit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA.) They're an incredible research organization that implements small service programs using randomized trial methodology so that they can properly evaluate the impact of various approaches, and then write policy recommendations for governments and NGOs. It was inspiring to see what they're doing--it's an amazing group of people. Seeing their survey methods was also very helpful for me in writing the entry survey for the loan recipients here.
Soon after I came back, we started collecting applications from groups of five women who wanted loans. After going through the applications, we interviewed all of the applicants to clarify some of the missing information, and we did the entry survey with the first two members to receive loans from each group. After choosing which groups would get loans--based mostly on their reputation for reliability within the community, but also on their business plans--we visited the homes of all the people whom Stella and Esther didn't already know.
We also arranged business skills training with a local community development organization. The trainers reviewed important basics like marketing and business planning, but focused on record keeping. We also held trainings on loan repayment and all of the policies for second loans and late repayments, etc.
On Friday, we finally disbursed the loans! There was a lot of pressure to get them out asap, so that the first repayments will be before I leave on August 6th. Everyone will make their first payments on August 4th, because those who are repaying every 2 weeks get a grace period for the first two weeks. It was a huge relief to give out the loans, and it was great to see the smiles on the recipients' faces. I guess I should wait to really feel relieved until after we see the repayment, though!
I wish I could post pictures, but it's still not working--sorry!