WHAT THE TCP GLOBAL TEAM DOES – and will train mentors to do
TCP Global recruits change-makers in impoverished communities to administer loan programs, then provides the mentoring to help them be successful, and conducts continuous fundraising to make sure there is always money available when qualified partners request it.
Finding change-makers in small communities in Guatemala and Nigeria and Senegal is not as difficult as one might imagine. We read about them all the time in Worldview or in the Rotarian and other publications. Many RPCVs are still working with change-makers in their Peace Corps communities. It is a matter of reaching out to them to offer micro-loans.
Small is sometimes better
While being a small program offering limited resources might seem a hindrance, it actually shields TCP Global from what we call the ‘sharks’ and serves to pre-screen for just the type of partner we want – those that are willing to go the extra mile for their community and who recognize the importance of working incrementally in a sustainable way. Those who are out to enrich themselves are not interested in a program doling out funds in $1500 tranches.
The hard work is done in the trenches
We respect our partners and recognize that the hard work is done in the trenches while we just raise money and offer support. Thus, if there is anything we can do to ease their burden, we try to do so rather than delegating tasks to them. While we note that we welcome stories and photos, our only requirement is a simple monthly report of funds in and funds out which we then use to generate management reports.
One of the most important things the TCP Global team does is to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of the grassroots change-makers. After submitting a monthly report, they like getting feedback and they like it that someone recognizes that they managed to collect from everyone, or that they collected from people who had not made a payment in over six months. While TCP Global has a write-off process, we know better than to remove the accounts from our records. One partner received a payment after five years with no payment activity. While running a micro-loan program may be a new and interesting challenge at first, it likely becomes tiresome as time goes by. It helps to have someone send an email ‘Thank You’ and recognize a job well done. It is the nice thing to do and likely helps to fight burnout.
Encouraging partners to use their earnings
It often takes some convincing before partners will withdraw earnings. In some cases they feel they are taking money that could be used for loans. Even when we assure them we will send more funds to replace those withdrawals, it is not their nature to ask for more. Change-makers typically have a wealth of ideas to improve their communities. We periodically remind them how much they have in earnings and encourage them to implement those ideas. This not only opens up more possibilities to improve a marginalized community but it also goes a long way to preventing burnout.
Most of our partners have a pre-existing role that already takes them into the community, but we especially encourage them to go out to visit delinquent borrowers. Delinquency can spread like a virus. Borrowers need to understand that repayment is important. Where possible, TCP Global encourages partners to create borrower committees to help with loan screening and collecting. This eases the burden on the loan administrator, provides transparency, and empowers those who serve on the committee. We also suggest incentives for good behavior – recognition at a meeting, posting names of successful borrowers, waiving the last month’s interest for those who always pay on time. The work of administering the loan program is significantly reduced if the borrowers are motivated to pay on time.
Qualifying for more funds
Most partners will not ask for more loan funds. We don’t want to push them to handle more than is comfortable for them, but if they have invested previous allocations at least two times and have a 95% repayment rate or better, we simply remind them they qualify for more funds whenever they want. This opens the door for them to request additional funds.
Use of management reports
TCP Global reviews the management reports to spot possible problems. If the repayment rate starts to dip, we reach out to the administrator to offer assistance. If the number of open loans gets too large, that can be both a symptom and a cause of delinquent payments. With too many open loans, there is less time for the personalized attention that keeps the program healthy. And if it is a healthy program with more than 40 open loans, there is a possibility of burnout.