Animators Take Microfinance Lead

Ben Hess is a CRS international development fellow living in Guatemala and working with savings-led microfinance programs.

A key component of a successful savings-led microfinance program is the animator.

Commonly referred to as promotor in Spanish (or promotora, in the case of a female animator), the animator’s main role is to organize, train, motivate, and accompany the savings groups from their initiation until they feel comfortable operating without outside help. It’s a difficult task, especially because the animator walks a fine line between providing guidance to the group while respecting the group’s autonomy and empowering members to make their own decisions.

The animator is generally a respected member of the community where the project will be implemented. Since savings groups are often formed as a complement to ongoing CRS projects, the local partner usually selects individuals who have been volunteer trainers or community organizers.

CRS provides training-of-trainers workshops for the animators to acquaint them with savings-led microfinance, provide an introduction to the way the savings groups operate, and present simulated dilemmas to prepare them for their role. Often timid and unsure of themselves at the start, the animators soon capture the concepts and develop their own unique methods to promote and facilitate the groups.

The women we trained in San Marcos are impressive. The animators’ children receive scholarships to attend school through CRS’ “Women’s Empowerment and Girls’ Education Project”, which began in 2002 in order to reduce the endemic poverty and malnutrition in the region.

The women are offered literacy classes, and the two most advanced ones are already in 2o. básico, the equivalent of 8th grade. Furthermore, they motivate other parents to become more involved in supporting their children’s education and encourage these parents to enroll in literacy courses that culminate in a diploma when they complete primaria (6th grade).

The animators’ commitment to their communities and experience in local development made them perfect candidates to form savings groups. Not surprisingly, the animators were able to organize new groups within a few weeks of the CRS training workshop. I cannot wait to visit them later this month to see how the groups are progressing.

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2 Responses to “Animators Take Microfinance Lead”

  1. ‘Conversations’ Guide Microfinance Decision Making | Voices of CRS Says:

    […] coming across as “prescriptive” can be difficult, especially when group members are asking animators for guidance. One tool at our disposal is Learning Conversations, which CRS originally developed in […]

  2. Microfinance “Conversations” Sample | Voices of CRS Says:

    […] may change. The following Learning Conversation covers obligatory and voluntary savings. The animator reads the two stories […]

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