From August 8th to August 12th, nineteen professionals from several microfinance institutions gathered at CMF’s headquarters in Kapan for a week-long training designed to improve the efficacy of management at microfinance branch banks.
As with many of CMF’s training sessions, the week began by outlining several identities; that of the trainee in the session, the role of a branch manager, and even the importance of microfinance as a development sector. The trainees then participated in a range of seminars and lectures, conducted over the course of the week both by CMF’s in-house training staff as well as by guest trainers, including Mr. Bhojraj Bashyal, Mr. Pirtha Bahadur Thapa, Mr. Rajesh Chalice, and Dr. Chet Kumari Gurung.
Sessions on client protection principles and loan appraisal property valuation for ME loans gave participants specific skills for branch management, while sessions on branch viability & sustainability and conflict and stress management gave them tools to plan for the successful futures of their banks. The entirety of the training focused on developing useful skills to properly serve the most vulnerable microfinance clients. A session specifically focused on targeting impoverished clients with practical solutions closed out a week of discussion and growth. On the final day of training, CMF Nepal CEO Dr. Harihar Acharya spoke to the trainees about the human values of microfinance and emphasized the need for mutual understanding to bring about inclusive finance in Nepal. He spoke of all actors involved in the microfinance sector, whether they be MFIs, their employees, or their clients, as part of an ecosystem that must be united by a common set of values. He quoted French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having human experience.” As this experience is common to all within this ecosystem, it should be a source of unity and understanding. He used the analogy of a coral reef where very simple organisms are connected on a microbiological level in order to survive, a feat that becomes more complicated on the macro scale of human interaction. Nevertheless, universal connections and commonalities are hardwired into how life itself has evolved, so it is always possible to find common ground.
Dr. Acharya emphasized the need to assess value, both within microfinance organizations and with their clients, on an individual, human level, as each person involved makes up a crucial part of Nepal's microfinance ecosystem. While microfinance operates on a very basic level around the concept of money, its greater value to society comes from the way that it helps disadvantaged people succeed. Dr. Acharya spoke to the trainees about how to achieve this balance, and stressed that “the major product of microfinance is not money…money is just a byproduct.” He asked the trainees to tell him how large of a budget is needed to become a good person, to which many answered that it could be completely free. Some of the best improvements to a microfinance institution can come without cost; a branch will operate more smoothly and will benefit clients more if its entire staff is saturated with good intentions.
After the conclusion of Dr. Acharya’s session on human values in microfinance, Mr. Pitamber Prasad Acharya, a member of CMF’s Board of Directors, delivered the closing address. He spoke from his experiences as the founder and chairman of the DPROSC Development Bank and Microfinance Association of Nepal, and encouraged the training participants to strive for sustainable success at their branches. He then invited each trainee to the front of the conference room to present them with their certificate of completion.