Stanford’s Extreme Affordability Program Come to Visit

Kuria has been killing and maiming computers left and right. I don’t what has been going on, but we are losing technology fast. We have a million things going on this week. Everyone is trying to get everything prepared for our departure next week. All of the Foundation Team will be on vacation for the majority of April, so it is critical in these last days to get everything set-up for while we are away. Tensions are running high, as the pace is increasing. The finish line is nearly in sight. We have to get everything done in the next couple days, and avoid the sticks in the spokes.

Stanford’s Extreme Affordability Program is visiting us this week, and they have been on a whirlwind tour of the project. It is so great to have them here, and have them involved with Nuru. On the 26th of this month, we are doing an all-staff training day in which each of us will be teaching modules. In addition to all of this, it’s rainy season, so that means the power is off and on every 20 minutes. Two computers and one external hard drive have been bricked and two computer have badly injured in the past week, so all of us are engaging in a combination of cursing and praying during the last days here. My computer, so far, has been doing well.

For the past twelve hours, I have been going over the books for the Nuru Savings Club. Our team will be on vacation for the next three weeks (starting next week), so I wanted to get everything set-up before I go. As I mentioned in previous blog posts, we are transitioning the Savings Clubs: some members will graduate to individual loans; some will spend some more time in the savings club; some new members and groups will join; and we only have one group that has made it to the year point, and decided not to continue.

Today was spent reconciling the Excel books with our hard copies. Now that I have finished with this step, the CED Field Managers will be dividing the interest earned over the past year by the Savings Club Groups’ lending and borrowing. After the interest has been divided up among the group members, then groups can cash out or transfer the money over to the second year’s books.

It has been interesting going through the books in such detail. The process has solidified even further the decision to transfer over to Mifos. Excel is great, but there comes a time when workbooks become too cumbersome, and an MIS is needed. I am still partly amazed that we even have enough members saving to actually warrant an MIS. Keep in mind that hunger was a huge issue out here less than a year ago.

Our tracking of the saving habits, borrowing habits, and repayment habits will provide Nuru with a unique window into the financial lives of the people we serve. We are working with graduated members to continue the basic bookkeeping, which they have been doing, as well as add a new level of depth and planning to it.

When I return from vacation, I will have a lot of things going on. I look forward to sharing these projects as they develop, and I will explain them in greater depth.



About Aerie Changala

Chief Executive Officer — Aerie earned his BA in International Affairs from John Cabot University (Rome, Italy) and his MA in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK). He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Burkina Faso. Aerie has been part of Nuru’s leadership since Nuru’s earliest days. Aerie initially served as Nuru’s second Team Leader in Kenya (following Jake) and has since led scouting, launching and designing of Nuru’s projects. Having spent the majority of his adult life living throughout Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, Aerie has traveled extensively, speaks seven languages, and brings a global perspective to his work at Nuru.

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