Yesterday afternoon, the 15th October, Hearts for Hue trialed our newly rewritten financial management curriculum for our microfinance borrowers. For the trial, we presented one of our new savings modules to 15 clients in Vy Da ward, where we have been providing microfinance for almost ten years. Of the 15 clients, 10 were from an existing group and 5 were new borrowers to the program.
To begin the training, borrowers were asked to share their current saving regimes. Fortunately, all borrowers had some form of daily savings, ranging from 20,000 VND (<1 USD) to 150,000 VND (7 USD) and most of them were using informal, “piggy-bank” style savings mechanisms in the home. The opening sharing session is designed to help nudge borrowers with the least savings to higher savings regimes, and helps H4H to understand our borrowers’ savings patterns for when we later roll out the full training programme.
The new curriculum is based on work by Microfinance Opportunities and a financial heuristics approach which the World Bank has rated highly. The approach to the training is to be humble in the amount of technical knowledge we think we possess and can teach, but be ambitious in targeting behavioural change. A simple example of this approach is the final activity of the session. In the final activity, we create a simple savings calendar. At the top of the calendar, borrowers list what they’re saving for (examples from yesterday included repayment, children education and bussiness development…….) and how much they will need to save every day to meet their goals. They then report this to the group, and pledge to save this amount each day. In this activity, there is no new knowledge, but it nevertheless increases the amount people save.
As an aside, we were excited to learn that one of our new borrowers is planning to use her loan to establish an online sales platform to sell rain jackets and winter coats. This is the first time that a borrower has used a Hearts for Hue microloan to establish an e-business.
We would like to thank the sponsors of our microfinance programmes, the DOVE Fund and VESAF for the funding to make both this new training possible and for allowing us to realize the other recent changes to our microfinance programme. These changes are outlined on our microfinance home page.