The time is flying by, as our last week in Tingo María has come to a close. Next week we will meet up again with Victor Ganoza, the country director of
TechnoServe Peru, and embark on the eight hour drive to Tarapoto with him, stopping at Tocache for a night or two along the way. Parker and I are both
excited to explore somewhere new; however, it’s going to be bittersweet, as we have made some great friends here, particularly with our TechnoServe
partners. In this last week alone, we’ve been invited to dinners, birthday parties, barbecues, river swims and some particularly intense games of ping
pong. The hospitality of the people here is truly incredible.
We spent this last week learning more about Agrobanco’s lending process, meeting with representatives from the bank and numerous farmers that have received
their underlying loans. As we look to increase the scope of the current pilot program and partner with a lending institution, it’s been valuable to
understand their potential qualms with stepping in to be a provider of capital. Speaking with the bank about their current model, they deeply value direct
access to the farmers receiving the loans as the origination process is essential to the eventual success of the loan.
Meeting with the farmers, it has also been interesting learning how they have many different sources of income, beyond just their cacao harvests. From
other crops, small grocery stores, taxi driving, and butchery businesses, they are ensuring that a bad harvest isn’t catastrophic. Being aware of all of
the family's cash flows throughout the year is important to ensure that the loans aren't being given in times when farmers may be tempted to spend them on
items other than their farm.
Parker and I feel like we’ve been given a solid grasp of the issues that are facing the farmers here. In particular, we’re learning the importance of
oversight of any lending model to a cooperative, as it isn’t necessarily a safe assumption that the cooperative will have the best interests of its
underlying members at heart. We’re both looking forward to discussing the pilot program with various lending institutions in Tarapoto to get their