Microloans is a service group that provides interest-free loans to local entrepreneurs in need of funds. From the beginning of this year, Microloans is supporting the construction of a water filtration unit in a local monastery in Myanmar.
“Global” sent along a reporter to find out more. Here are the best bits from our interview with Microloans spokesperson Kyaw Min Khant.
Q. When did the water filtration project start?
A. The planning started since the start of the year but it was just installed last month.
Q. How long is the project expected to last?
A. For the money, they give it back in installments every month. I’m not sure, but I think the planned date is around one year for the loans. The product (water filtration unit) should last more than that.
Q. What progress has been made?
A. We’ve already installed it, and it’s working. Everything is set up. At this point, we are just collecting back the money. This means that we will have funds available to support another project. That’s how Microloans works!
Q. How do you decide which projects to support?
A. We work with the international microfinance NGO, Kiva. We make a set of criteria and that’s how we determine who gets the loan. The main criteria is that the borrowers come from Myanmar. Our follow-up question is, “What’s the purpose of the loan?” For example, farming is riskier than entrepreneurship because it depends on seasons and is nature-dependent. Other questions include: Are they borrowing money now? When’s their growing season? What are they doing with the money? We also need to keep in mind ethical considerations (such as pesticide usage).
Q. What are the beneficial aspects of this project?
A. I think the project has a high benefit to cost ratio, as for just a few lakhs, you can create safe and drinkable water for the entire monastery. The economic cost (such as medical bills) of drinking untreated water is much higher.
Q. What have you learned and what would you do differently next time?
A. I think we should plan out a bit more because the project was supposed to begin at the start of the year, and now it’s been stretched towards the end. We had funding problems and organizational issues which led to the whole restructuring of the Microloans group.
*The title is from a poem by David Everett.