The People Part: Common sense advice in motivating microfinance clients and staff

This booklet forms part of the Catholic Relief Service Microfinance series. It serves as a user-friendly guide geared to managers trying to run microfinance institutions (MFIs). It places its emphasis on the human side of the microfinance business, stressing the need to build up a reliable client base through personal contact and the value of having a skilled staff which functions as a team.

Author Susan Gibson gives a clear and easy-to-follow series of concepts to follow. Microfinance institutions should be responsive to the needs and situation of individual clients, with mutual accountability between institution and client; they should be financially sustainable, run as a business rather than a charity, and efficient. On the way to these conclusions, which are as commonsensical as the title says, the author lays out her ideas simply and effectively.

The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 focuses on the clients angle and covers topics such as who and where are your clients, understanding client needs, creating a vision, what’s reasonable to lend and charge; Part 2 focuses on staff and deals with such issues as getting the right people to do the job, the importance of recognition, building a team, making training relevant, fun and applicable, leading by example. Each two-page section is distinguished by a relevant quote from an author or philosopher, a three-point list of main principles, and even a suggestion for a motivational song or two.

This booklet offers a fresh and encouraging hands-on approach to client and staff management. It addresses the difficult questions of how to handle non-repayment of loans and how to fire staff, and always with a positive emphasis on assistance and good business practice. It is a must-have for managers of MFIs.

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