FMFC being part of Aga Khan Development Network participates in Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s International Youth Fellowship as a host organization for Fellows. Fellows are young professionals who desire to develop leadership skills and gain hands-on experience in the development sector across the globe. Over the years, FMFC has hosted four Fellows. Here are stories of current and former Fellows about their experience with us and in the Kyrgyz Republic.
As a current International Microfinance and Microenterprise Fellow I have spent the last five months working at FMFC as a Research and Product Development Associate. I was welcomed to Bishkek at the end of July and although it’s only been a short time I have already benefited from a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth.
I was fortunate to be accepted to the Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s International Youth Fellowship immediately after completing my Bachelor’s of Commerce at Carleton University. And although I knew very little about Kyrgyzstan or Central Asia beforehand, it has been better than anything I ever could have imagined. The country is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are incredibly friendly and hospitable, the food is delicious and there are plenty of things to do in your free time. I have taken up Latin dance classes, gone horseback riding, hiked around the mountains, enjoyed live music, camped along the shores of Issyk-Kul, and so much more!
In the office I have been given the chance to work on a variety of challenging projects that have allowed me to gain skills in proposal writing, cross-cultural communication, monitoring and evaluation of the success of products and programs, and most of all, project management. The expertise housed within the FMFC team is impressive and has supported me well as I tackle these new tasks in the micro finance sector.
I have been responsible with managing FMFC’s transition to a paperless loan application process. The goal of this transition is to increase the company’s efficiency, data quality and accuracy, and customer service. Soon after arriving I was able to visit the company’s branch in Naryn to truly understand what the current process looked like from the client’s perspective. I was able to solicit feedback from FMFC’s Branch Managers, Loan Officers and clients, which I am now incorporating into our system design.
Additionally, I’ve developed proposals for affordable loan products, conducted research into the SME loan market and Kyrgyzstan’s current business development services landscape, learned about new opportunities related to digital financial services, and deepened my understanding of the specific benefits and limitations of microfinance in Kyrgyzstan and around the world. I also got to help with marketing efforts by designing communication and promotion materials.
After I complete my Fellowship I'm going to further my understanding of international development issues through post-graduate studies. I would love to encourage social entrepreneurship and explore the new and innovative ways the private sector can accelerate social, environmental and economic progress around the world. My experience as a Fellow with FMFC has given me an excellent foundation of skills and experience I can utilize as I progress through my career. Above all else, the amazing people I have met and developed relationships with are really making my experience as a Fellow truly life changing. The other 19 Fellows, now spread out across Asia and Africa, the former Fellows and members of the AKDN based in Bishkek and back home in Canada, and of course my colleagues at FMFC have all shaped my outlook on the future and inspire me to continue working hard to make this world a better place.
As a former International Microfinance and Microentreprise Fellow at FMFC I can confidently say the year I spent working in Kyrgyzstanwas life changing. This transformational experience began in August 2016, when arrived in Osh, Kyrgyzstan as a part of the International Youth Fellowship supported by the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
I studied business and worked in the corporate world, however I was always passionate about development. I was excited about Microfinance and the idea that access to small loans could mean big opportunities for small scale entrepreneurs. I was thrilled to be given a chance to learn from the talented team at the First MicroFinance Company and contribute to the organization's goals as a Research and Product Development Associate.
Within a couple of months, I had visited several FMFC clients in Karasu and visit some of the more remote FMFC offices in Naryn. I learnt about the client protection measures in place, analyzed client satisfaction data, and measured impact. With a supportive team, I developed and launched a client referral program, and a client loyalty program. Fortunately, FMFC has many strong partners both in the Kyrgyz Republic and internationally, and I helped further develop the USAID partnership through an Agro Horizon grant. I even got to dabble in website design, pairing creativity and business strategy.
On the weekends, I hiked around many lakes nestled within expansive mountain ranges, meeting adventurous and inspiring people along the way. Travelling within Kyrgyzstan was so easy, and I quickly gained an appreciation for the incredibly hardworking and resilient people who call this gorgeous country home.
I'm continuing to pursue a career in development with a social entreprise in the agriculture sector. I now work for One Acre Fund as a Supply Chain Associate providing access to high quality maize seeds for smallholder farmers across Rwanda. My experience at FMFC equipped me with the skills needed to take on this new role, and I've been able to apply my many lessons learned to this new context.
Although it's much warmer here in Rwanda, I miss those beautiful mountains, samsy, and the many friends that were made during my time at FMFC. I am beyond grateful to have been part of FMFC and the greater Aga Khan Development Network.
Application for the 2018 -2019 cycle are open now. https://akfc.fluidreview.com/
were supported since FMFC began
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