I recently changed my job. Feels good, thank you. The team I worked with were/are some of the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Legendary hospitality, funny, generous, and indeed, some of the sharpest minds ever. And yes, I left and am now working elsewhere. In my old team it was customary to farewell colleagues with a morning tea and to have a whip around for a gift. Frankly the gift thing really caught in my craw – my previous experiences in these matters have been none too good – some gorpy horror – I only just rid of the last vase at a garage sale…
Meanwhile, on the other side of the (global) village, Ayawa Djoka – a married mother of five kids and entrepreneur who’d quit her studies in primary school – decided to step out again and seek investment capital. Ayawa has been successful twice previously, having borrowed and repaid money from the international pool, without incident. Located in Tsévié, Togo, Ayawa is following a deceptively simple regime – she buys fresh fish, and adds value by smoke drying it, and then resells the fish at a profit. Some of the profit is then reinvested in her produce farming – and the surplus is sold at a profit. Demand exceeds supply and so Ayawa sought capital to buy larger seed stocks of fish and materials for her farming enterprise. All of this is with the hope that she will be able to increase her revenue and her profit, and this so the surplus can be used to improve the living conditions of her family.
Not exactly Donald Trump. Rather than end up with some cloying and ghastly gift (I was particularly frightened by the thought my former team would identify my need for wall plates with kitten designs) I figured they’d really enjoy engaging with sorting out an investment with Kiva – the micro-investors. After a couple of false starts – the investment business is so hot by the time we’d sorted out an investment it had gone – yes, in minutes – we ended up shortlisting and then investing with Ayawa.
I don’t imagine visiting Tsévié, Togo, any time soon – although I do have a craving for some great smoked fish. I just believe that thanks to Ayawa, and Kiva, and my generous colleagues, I’ve got a farewell gift that I will remember, and cherish for a very, very long time. Thank you all for playing your respective parts, and I wish the very best for this new business in a country I’ll probably never visit, run by an enterprising woman I’ll probably never meet, who uses a language I’ll probably never learn – all thanks to the foresight of strangers and the power of the web.
How good is that? What? You want to be an international financier too? You can, at Kiva.