IKATU workshop with the Loan Officers
Poverty identification and elimination through Ikatu does not only target the clients of Fundación Paraguaya but also the people that make its projects possible: the employees. Loan officers are burdened with work, often having hundreds of clients for whom they are always available. If they are therefore not attended to and made felt part of the Fundación’s projects, how can they do their job effectively?
To promote poverty alleviation through evaluating the Ikatu indicators, it is crucial that the Fundación’s own employees know how to identify their levels of poverty. As such, the Ikatu team organized a daylong workshop with 16 loan officers for self-evaluation of poverty, and to learn more about and take part in the Fundación’s upcoming projects. The day began with a talk given by the executive director Martin Burt, explaining the goals of Ikatu and the Fundación for the future. Mr. Burt and the Ikatu manager, Rodrigo Alonso spoke about the importance of believing in poverty eradication and working together to achieve it from within.
The next activity was an icebreaker for the attendees where two teams had to be creative using miscellaneous objects to build a bridge. The symbolic bridge connected the participants’ current situation to their final goals (which was in this case a very high salary). The game promoted sustained teamwork in the path towards achieving ones goals. The workshop continued with a discussion and evaluation on the impressions of the game and an introduction to Ikatu. In order to understand the innovative programme, the loan officers then had to self-assess their poverty levels by answering a series of questions on the Ikatu survey. The results were not always positive, illustrating the complex facets of poverty that are not always automatically visible. Some indicators that stood out as being negative were living in a contaminated environment, lack of insurance and no self-belief in the capacity of playing a role in the public sector.
The loan officers were also given presentations on the microfranchises we are developing (mini-pharmacy, food kit and cleaning product kit). With their feedback on the costs and products, the Ikatu team has been able to improve the likelihood of the kits being successful. Prioritizing and setting goals based on the results of the surveys for themselves was the final task the loan officers engaged in. Mr. Alonso’s belief in group support put the officers in groups of two to three people, who will regularly check-in with each other over the next few months to see how the pursuit of the goals is progressing.
Overall, the workshop appeared successful. The loan officers seemed happy with the activities, and were given a sense of appreciation on behalf of the headquarters. Without the hard work and dedication of the loan officers, a large share of the social work the Fundación engages in would not be possible. Showing them how much they are appreciated, how important they are, and helping them achieve their goals is therefore just as important as reaching out to the clients.