If You Were the Client How Would You Want an MFI to Operate?

If before we’re thrown into life, we could choose what society should look like without knowing what particular characteristics our life will have (e.g. gender, race, social status), what principles of justice would we chose to govern our society? This is the thought experiment John Rawls used to determine justice impartially and rationally. La Ceiba is founded on a similar thought experiment. How would we want a MFI to operate, if we ourselves could be in the position to request their service?

La Ceiba is focused on idealism. And idealism is very contagious if left uncompromised. We want our financial weapons to be the sharpest and easiest to wield against the monsters of poverty. We want our clients to start believing that they themselves hold the key to their own empowerment. We simply provide them with the means to offer themselves some breathing room; peace of mind moments that can enlarge their imagination and enlighten their path towards their own conception of a dignified and valuable life.

There is no manual for what we need to do to fulfill our idealism, no Ikea “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3” assembly process. La Ceiba does not come with instructions because La Ceiba does not want the fruits of its labor to be stylized, nicely wrapped boxes of copy-paste loan structures. What La Ceiba offers instead is Culture, one that nurtures and wants emotion, romanticism; it wants people to dig it, to groove on it. We need our tribes(wo)men to create solutions with which their creators have a sense of identity with so that the owners of our service, our patrons can also have a sense of identity with our service. We need to be Ralwsian in our approach to service creation. We have to be contagious! We want our clients to be the artists of their own life and thus we need to offer them a microfinance service that nurtures artistry, imagination, innovation, risk-taking. A Warren Buffet quote says that “Price is what you pay, Value is what you get.” We want our clients to groove our value. We want our clients to receive more than what they pay for. It’s crucial for us to be sustainable within our current idealistic constraints because that’s simply the recipe for success: the success of their emancipation as dignified individuals and our successful growth as moral human beings.

Matei Dragusin (LC Fall 2013)

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