“Working in microfinance has transformed me. We use the word ‘transformation’ to describe our client training, but that word also describes how I feel,” says Betty Mutua, a regional manager at Opportunity International Kenya.
Mutua began working for Opportunity as a loan officer in 2001, which was also the year she got married. “I’ve been married as long as I’ve been in microfinance!” she laughs. Today, she is based in Nairobi and supervises five regional bank branches. She travels two hours each day to get to work, sometimes leaving before her two children are awake, and returning after they are asleep. Though that is difficult for her, Betty loves her busy job.
What does she love most? Being with the people. “One of my favorite clients is a woman named Jane Andisi.” Mutua tells this story:
Jane is illiterate and very proud. She has been an Opportunity client as long as I’ve worked there, and she has never defaulted on her loans. Not even once. She says, ‘I know I can take out bigger loans, but I want to be very careful that I don’t take more than my business can sustain.’ And all of her income goes to pay for a private university education for her daughter.
Jane doesn’t talk much about herself, but she came to me to ask if there is anything I could do to help her, because her daughter had had to leave school the previous semester when she couldn’t pay tuition. I listened and I helped her make a plan to pay back an additional loan. She returned to me a few months later and told me her daughter had been able to go back to school. I was so impressed that this proud woman had shared this personal story with me, and had been willing to ask for help. I was very happy that it had all worked out.
Clients continue to come to Betty for help with their problems, even though she’s not a loan officer anymore. “This job requires a personal touch,” she explains. ”Clients always think that their situations are impossible. But I tell them, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll resolve this.’ I listen, I care, and that helps.”
Those in the Washington, D.C. area tonight can meet the personable and very knowledgable Betty Mutua of Opportunity Kenya in person. She will be the guest speaker at the YAO-DC kickoff event at the Financial Services Roundtable at 6:30 p.m. Learn more and RSVP at the Facebook event page. We hope you will join us tonight, and check back in for a post about the highlights from the evening.