Nuru International Field Officers Promoted
Today, the CED field officers were extended formal positions with Nuru. They have been working with us as volunteer leaders for 6 months. For the last few months, we have been training on topics ranging from group bookkeeping to loan approval and management. We also focused on building client trust and relationships, which has turned out to be more difficult than technical skills like calculating loan interest. Many of the savings clubs have broken down at the group level; some Savings Club representatives just collect weekly savings from members without actually meeting to relay the financial training received in the Savings Club meetings. The field officers are now regularly visiting groups to improve the consistency and quality of representative-led training.
We ended the 6 months with a pretty nasty test, one that even my field managers had difficulty with. It was especially intimidating to some of my field officers, who lack formal education. In addition, the women field officers told me they were not good at math. I know that’s not true but in our group settings, they are often out-talked by the more vocal men. I thought about making the test easier but decided against it. On test day I was just as nervous as the field officers – what was I going to do if half my field officers failed the test? But every one of them passed! Not only that, the top two scores were Christine (the first to finish the test) and Constancia (the only perfect score!).
So today, we had a small celebration. The field officers took a simple oath of service, which says “…I promise that my words, actions, and motives will reflect the goals and values of Nuru International. I understand that my power as a leader is only as strong as my commitment to serve the community. I will faithfully fulfill my duties with humility, respect, and the willingness to continuously learn from those around me.”
I think the team embodies those values well. They lead the Savings Club meetings and take care of members. Last week, Josephat called to see if I was in the Nyametaburo office to help a member he was sending over. I was in the office, but he accompanied her anyway. I joked that he didn’t trust me, but it was because he just wanted to make sure her issue was resolved. I’m always amazed (and grateful) how enthusiastic the field officers are to learn, and they really take ownership of their roles as community trainers. The best thing about our promotion today is that nothing really changes. The official title doesn’t make the field officers leaders, their actions do.
The team also has a new member, Joseph Gikaro, who will be representing the CED program on Nuru’s Community Development Committee. He has experience in business, banking and community development, which will really help our program as it scales.