MEDA Blog - Stories from the Field

The Fear of the Unknown

Every morning, I have the joy of getting in a car with a man named Leo. Leo is a taxi driver b2ap3_thumbnail_Nicaragua-MiCredito-Driver-PS.jpgliving in Managua, Nicaragua and has been working at his trade for 15 years. He knows every speed bump, pot hole, over-turned stone and congested street in the city and has even managed to master the difficult directional system that Nicaraguan's proudly stand by.

"Buenos Dias, Katherine! Como estas?" He exclaims every time. His smile always seems to bring one out in me, as I know his exclamations and excitement stem from the heart.

Leo is a client of MiCrédito and through their relationship, which has spanned the last 5 years, he has received multiple loans to finance his taxi business. Leo is known around the Rubenia branch for being quick to pay back his loan and always excited about coming in to the office to do so, often being sure to steal the time of one of the busy Loan Officers or the Branch Coordinator, engaging them in a deep conversation (whether they have the time for it or not!).

It was no surprise to Cesia Calderon, the Rubenia Branch Coordinator and Financial Educator for MiCrédito clients that Leo was quick to adopt the newest financial product offered by the Microfinance bank.

"Leo loves the new Debit Card system that we are using! He instantly saw it's benefits and wasn't hesitant to share them with the rest of the clients at our last Financial Education meeting. He was practically up on the table!"

"The debit card lets me feel safe and secure, while conducting my business. Now, I do not carry large amounts of cash in my taxi with me and run the risk of being robbed. Instead, I use my BAC Debit Card to deposit the money I make each day. In the same way, I use this card at gas stations, which lets me collect points with BACs reward system and limit the risk associated with using cash."

b2ap3_thumbnail_Katherine-2.jpgThrough MiCrédito's recent partnership with Banco America Central (more commonly known as BAC, in Central America), client loans are deposited directly into a BAC Debit Account and the clients are distributed a debit card from a MiCrédito branch. This account represents a secure and safe place to hold loan money and truly represents the idea of financial inclusion. Clients that were previously denied access to the regulated financial system because minimum balance requirements and banking fees were too high, are now provided an account with BAC that has no fees and does not require a minimum balance.

"I like this product a lot and I am happy to be able to use it every day. My money is more secure and therefore, I feel more secure."

Leo continued on to express how the account provides a safe place for his savings, which are very vital to his own sustainability and that of his families.

"Some days are good days as a taxi driver and other's are not. Therefore, I need to prepare for those bad days and have some money kept away in order to do so."

As clients begin to use the Debit Card offered by MiCrédito, many road blocks, cultural barriers and system limitations prevent them from adopting the technology with optimism and ease. However, success stories, like Leo's, helps clients to realize that the benefits, which lie in the associated safety and security, outweigh the hesitation that springs from the unknown.

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