Volunteer Report: Hugues Le Chevallier (Microfinance)

Hugues Le Chevallier

January – March 2013

After a five-year curriculum in a business school majoring in finance and working in audit and venture capital, I wanted to discover the functioning of an NGO and use my skills in a wider human experience.

I worked at the Microfinance Office, located first in Amasaman and then in Fise. I had several main tasks to work on.

The first was about the microloans made by VPWA. I had to manage with Comfort the on-going loans: collect the money at the office or directly in the villages, schedule the reimbursements, register the payments in the Microfinance Excel File. Furthermore, I had to validate the new loans: conduct interviews with the applicants, evaluate their profits, discuss about their business, their competitors, their family situation and their projects.Those tasks were really interesting. Thanks to Comfort, I had a great relationship with the beneficiaries. I learned a lot about microfinance but also on the Ghanaian culture and its correlation with the country’s development.

The second task was to launch the new microleasing program. The first step was to tell the beneficiaries that we were going to progressively stop the cash loans to switch for leasing. The next step was to explain them the functioning of this program, allowing them to own the equipment at the end of the reimbursement. When I left, almost five leases were launched or being launched and a hair dryer, a gas stove and a fridge had begun to be reimbursed.

I also worked with Hayford on the external communication about this microleasing program, called MicroQuips. Together, we thought about a new website, its layout and the pages it should contain. I wrote a few beneficiaries profiles so that they could be published on the website. I also worked on MicroQuips business model and its operating budget depending on the interest rate, the number of leases and the inherent charges. It helped Hayford to finalise the Grant Applications Forms to enable us to collect some funds for the project.

Remarks: It is important to update frequently the applicants’ list to keep a chronology, have a broad view on the potential beneficiaries and prioritize the applications. I created a form for the business interview with the beneficiaries (Business Interview.doc). It is very useful to have one (and to print new ones sometimes) when you go meet the women in the villages. It guides the interview, universalize the answers of each applicant and help to avoid forgetting important details. I also modified and updated the applications forms (Loan Application Form.doc &Lease Application Form.doc). Those have to be filled in detail as soon as the loan has been launched.

The accommodation at VPWA is very good. There are a few power and water cuts but the house is clean, the bedrooms are quite comfortable and the kitchen is well equipped. The food prepared for us is excellent and the Thursday evenings at Hayford and Portia’s are always great!

When searching for an NGO on the Internet, I found tons of organizations offering a similar experience. I came across VPWA and contacted former volunteers and Hayford to know more about this association. I really don’t regret my decision to come in this association. The other volunteers were really nice, the work very interesting and enriching and Hayford is definitely a great and active social entrepreneur.

During my stay, I travelled every weekend within Ghana and I would advise all the next volunteers to do the same. There is a lot to see and to do and even if the bus rides can be a bit exhausting, it’s really worth the trip. Cape Coast & Kakum / Aburi, Boti&Krokrobite / Ho and Hohoe / Ada / Nzulezo and Green Turtle Lodge / Kumasi… are all very good weekend gateways. Look in the Volunteer Bible at Pokuase to have more helpful tips about each destination.

I really hope you’ll enjoy your stay!