Nice Guy Loan Collector
David’s 4th Blog from Myanmar
Micro-credit, when done properly, can be a huge blessing to very poor people who, with a small business loan, are given an opportunity they would never had otherwise to lift themselves from poverty. Heaven’s Family’s Micro-Loan Ministry, under the very capable directorship of Dan Steward, is the biggest thing Heaven’s Family is doing around the world. Dan and his team, consisting of his wife, Terry, Isaac and Sarah Shepherd, and Jenna Liberati, are touching lives in 13 nations now, and one of those nations is Myanmar.
I brought a spreadsheet with me on this trip that contains the majority of loans that Heaven’s Family has made in Chin State and in the nearby Kalaymyo region. That spreadsheet reflects the data on 142 loans made since 2010, totaling about $450,000. Although that would make it seem as if the average loan has been about $3,000, that is not actually the case. Many of the loans on my spreadsheet were made to groups of village elders, who took their loan, and at our instruction, made smaller loans of a few hundred dollars to trustworthy persons in their villages. Although my spreadsheet doesn’t tell me exactly, I suspect it represents well over 1,000 loans that have helped people either start small businesses or expand their already-existing businesses. Most are agricultural.
The payback rate has been outstanding. If you take into consideration that one loan to a group of village elders can represent as many as 30 loans to villagers, I’ll bet we’re doing better than a 95% repayment rate overall.
My spreadsheet informs me of the status of every loan, and I’ve spent a few days visiting a few delinquent borrowers. All of them have suffered unexpected setbacks, and we’re showing them mercy to various degrees (seeing as how we’re Christians and all) and working out adjusted repayment schedules. They know we love them, and after my visits, they still know it.
Our goal now is to make very strategic loans to remote villages in Chin State that are the source villages for the majority of children in Myanmar’s hundreds of “orphanages.” If we can help those people prosper where they are, they’ll have less incentive to send their children hundreds of miles away to live in “orphanages.” We already have our proof of concept. Now it is just a matter of applying what we know, which is why I am so thankful for our Micro-Loan Ministry team.
Most importantly, our borrowers in many places are now required to be part of “God’s Love Groups” that meet for encouragement, business training, discipleship and evangelism. The goal is world domination under the Lordship of Jesus!
Below are a few photos of blessed borrowers in Chin State, and some miscellaneous photos that I’ve taken during past travels there.