On June 30th, Esperanza completed its second quarter of the fiscal year. The past thirteen weeks have proven to be some of the best in Esperanza’s history as a financial institution. Esperanza welcomed 901 new associates in this past quarter (a 24% increase in comparison to the first quarter). 1,209 new loans (equaling approximately $473K) were dispersed in May─more than any other month this year.
Perhaps the biggest news of the quarter came during self-sustainability evaluations. During the month of June, Esperanza reached 111% self-sustainability. On Monday, July 16, Esperanza team members across the branch offices celebrated the unprecedented achievement.
Although the past quarter was such a successful period for Esperanza, no one is preparing to pump the brakes. Our work in the Dominican Republic is far from finished, so we will press forward and continue to fight the good fight alongside our associates. Esperanza CEO Alexandra Nuñez says, “As long as there are individuals that don’t have access to financial services, as long as there are individuals that are being taken advantage of by loan sharks, as long as there are individuals that are discriminated from the financial market, Esperanza has a market.”
Más Que un Préstamo ─ More Than a Loan
After such a successful quarter, Esperanza plans to maintain its momentum for an even better quarter to come. With great figures for financial services this past quarter, our team will emphasize the importance of our non-financial services, such as business training, health education, and medical examinations, during the third quarter. Esperanza International is the only Christ-centered microfinance organization in the country that provides these types of services, which is one of our strongest competitive advantages; thus, we intend to do them well.
In comparison to past figures, our non-financial services are slightly down. Of course, our team is not forgetting to focus on these services because they have always taken a prominent position in their minds. For instance, Nuñez comments, “The spiritual component to our non-financial services legitimately bubbles out of our team. They don’t need to be reminded to share the Gospel!” However, when you are so focused on one aspect of this work, it can be easy for other parts to slip.
In order to kickstart this strategic focus, all branch managers, loan officers, and facilitators met in Santo Domingo for the Quarterly Operations meeting. Pedro Castillo, Esperanza’s Non-Financial Services Manager, offered a training on how we can improve and bolster this segment of operations. Some changes coming from this meeting include a restructuring of business trainings and health education sessions. For instance, with the new formats, every loan group will receive business training for five minutes during each meeting. These sessions have been condensed to ensure efficient gatherings and organized to best suit our audience of associates. Rather than merely explaining business principles and tenets, our team conveys lessons through storytelling─a cultural tradition in the Dominican Republic.
Our main goal for this quarter is to ensure that our non-financial goals are met, that our associates have access to all of these incredible services. “My goal is for us to be able to provide our associates with all the services we have, be it microfinance or non-financial services, with quality,” says Nuñez.
Technology in the Third Quarter
The next few weeks will see the implementation of several new projects for Esperanza, specifically in the Information Technology department. One of the biggest changes to our technology infrastructure will be the addition of Aplicación Móvil (mobile application) to Esperanza’s loan operations. Before, loan officers would fill out a paper loan application with an associate in the field and later return to their branch office to enter the data into a computer information system. Automation of our loan application process will greatly reduce the time required to apply for a loan (and thus, receive a loan). Loan officers will carry tablets to the field and fill out one application on the tablet with the associate, which will then be visible to the loan approval team in Santo Domingo, who can begin the evaluation process much sooner. Another large update will be the automation of all legal documents for associates. Administrators currently spend many hours of work involving legal documents, but this development should reduce their headaches and open time for more complex, beneficial tasks. Nuñez praises these investments because they will pay themselves back soon in the future. “I would be so thrilled to be able to leverage on technology to streamline the process for our staff, so then they can spend more time serving the people that we serve,” says Nuñez.
How YOU Can Be Involved
The number one thing we can ask of our followers and supporters is to pray. “We’re doing God’s work, and in order to do God’s work, we need God’s help. For God’s help, the way that God works is through prayer and through His people,” says Nuñez. Over the past several weeks, many Esperanza team members and their families across all branch offices have experienced a significant amount of health-related issues. You can first pray for their health and ability to continue the incredible work that they have been doing for this organization and for the people of the Dominican Republic. Secondly, be praying for the many new projects underway in the third quarter. With multiple technology projects redesigning several core operations, a strong emphasis on meeting our non-financial services goals, and several loan products being redesigned in the microfinance department, we know that God’s wisdom will be the strongest factor in our ability to succeed in these endeavors. Lastly, we would love to add more non-financial services for our associates and to partner with more organizations and companies to coordinate these efforts. Pray that the Lord would open doors to new partners and donors willing to support and invest in new non-financial services and new opportunities for our associates.
Another major way to support Esperanza this quarter is to give and to share our story with your families, friends, churches, and communities. Together, we can make an impact in the Dominican Republic to combat all forms of poverty, restoring hope and dignity to families in greatest need.
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Microfinance is a banking service which exists to serve the material poor in emerging economies. Through this lending process, loans are distributed to entrepreneurs for investment in their business.learn more