I went to interview my first Opportunity Tanzania clients today! They are part of the Neema Trust Group and are from a Dar Es Salaam neighborhood near the Ilala branch called Mburahati. Going to meet them and their Trust Group was not the only exciting experience of the day. As the rainy season is just beginning here in Tanzania, it was an absolute downpour when we left the branch office. This was the first major rain I have experienced since arriving in Dar and it was unbelievable to see sand and dust roads turn into giant puddles of mud. Also not surprising was the complete lack of drainage on the paved roads and the twelve inches of water that quickly accumulated to bring traffic to a stop.
Meeting the clients was also an exciting experience. I arrived fifteen minutes late with the loan officer because the rain created a big delay for us. This was the first Trust Group meeting I have been to at Opportunity Tanzania. The members of the group were all very excited to have me join them and they welcomed me with Tanzanian hospitality by sending someone rushing off to bring me a drink. When they were discussing what drink to buy for me I kept hearing them say “Kili,” which is short for Kilimanjaro, a popular brand of both water and beer. Luckily, my host arrived from the rain with a bottle of water!
After we arrived and I was introduced, the Trust Group continued their business of collecting loan repayments while the Opportunity Tanzania loan officer monitored and counseled the group. I went to work and pulled aside my first client to interview. To make the first interview easier, I interviewed the only client in the group who spoke English. I could tell that this worked well because after I finished interviewing him I had two more clients waiting for their turn. For the next two, I had to ask the loan officer to translate. Hopefully, I will soon be able to do Kiswahili interviews without translation. It was a privilege to have these clients share the story of their lives and businesses with me and I can’t wait to share them with you on OptINnow! As I was leaving the group invited me to come back next week to meet more of them, and I can’t wait.
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