“The relationship between Wasasa and BRS goes back a long way. To the early years of our MFI. Wasasa was founded in 2000 by OSRA (Oromo Self Reliance Association), an Ethiopian NGO focused on agricultural development. The name Wasasa means ‘stretcher’ and refers to the support we provide to poor farmers.”
“In 2003, we came into contact with BRS through the investment company Incofin, during our search for new capital to provide more loans. They couldn’t give us a credit: Ethiopian law prohibits us from borrowing from foreign lenders. But Incofin and BRS acted as guarantor for Wasasa and that foreign guarantee opened the door for us to obtain a loan from an Ethiopian bank.”
Performance indicators and throwing snowballs
“Then, at the invitation of BRS in Belgium, I followed a management training course on financial analysis. That was in February 2004. I learned not only how to work with performance indicators, but also how to throw snowballs! And Kurt Moors of BRS and I have stayed in touch ever since, even when the guarantee scheme came to an end. Wasasa is now Ethiopia’s largest private sector MFI. And in 2017 our partnership with BRS was revived.”
“Because we are ambitious and want to continue to grow. Our aim is to attract even more borrowers, people who otherwise have no access to financial services. That means we need more resources, and to this end we are going to mobilise savings. BRS supports us in this endeavour, among other things through KBC volunteers who help us design and market our savings products.”
New product range with new challenges
“BRS also supports the expansion of our product range with individual credits. Until now, farmers could only apply for group credits. Now, we are creating the possibility for individuals to apply for a loan, also for larger amounts. This is possible, subject to a personal guarantee provided by someone else in the community.
This is new for us technically and it brings many organisational challenges. That’s why BRS is training the agricultural expert we hired for this task and why experienced KBC employees are coaching him.”
A shared passion
“By taking these steps, Wasasa can bring even more change to the lives of even more poor farmers. That’s our passion. I dedicate my life to it. It’s a big responsibility, which sometimes keeps me awake at night. But I’m very happy doing what I do.
And I am thrilled with our cooperation with BRS! When you have been in contact for so many years, you know each other’s strengths and challenges. You have a shared history and as a result you understand each other. BRS knows what Wasasa can achieve. And we know what BRS offers us. After all these years, there is great mutual confidence. And ultimately that’s what it’s all about: working together in confidence.”