What was your inspiration for running the fundraiser with Milaap?
I heard about Milaap thanks to a friend. I was looking for an internship in the microfinance sector in India and had a very precise idea of what I was expecting from an MFI. Milaap was the company which matched most closely, my vision of what microfinance should be about. So, when I heard about the fact that I could run a fundraiser, I already knew I was going to intern at Milaap and was already passionate by Milaap’s concept. Having the possibility to do more for this great cause, to have a direct impact, simply seemed awesome to me. So I didn’t hesitate more than 2 seconds before saying yes to run a fundraiser.
Your target for the fundraiser was ambitious, how did the response turn out to be?
The truth is, as it was the first time I was really getting to know about this kind of fundraiser, I didn’t know it was so ambitious! I chose $5000 because it sounded good, as simple as that… To me, it was a goal as another that I had to reach. I understood during the fundraiser it would be more complicated than I had thought. So I worked very hard to reach the $5000 and the response turns out to be amazing! Beyond my imagination! I can only thank my friends who helped me during this period and who did an amazing job and of course the lenders who trusted me and Milaap. We did fundraise $5000 before the deadline and I’m so proud of it!
Retrospectively, I realize that, if I had known more about fundraisers in general, I might have not taken the risk to set such an ambitious goal and I would not have raised so much, thinking $5000 was impossible. Sometimes, ignorance can turn to be positive…
Any specific reason you chose the cause 'Education' only for your fundraiser?
Last year, I studied the impact on microfinance in developing countries for 3 months. Education quickly appeared to be a major factor in the success of micro-loans and in the fight to break the poverty circle.
I am convinced that Education is absolutely critical. This is when everything starts. If you make sure your children obtain a basic education, if they know how to count, read and write, they will for sure be more successful in their professional life and will improve their standards of living, but most importantly, they will be able to read newspapers, to educate themselves, to fight prejudices and be more open-minded, to understand the challenges of their country, to vote. They will be able to be good citizens. Education is what enables the social and economic development of a country but also Democracy.
Education empowers individuals and gives them a much better future, it breaks the poverty cycle but also Education is the key to a country’s strength on the long term.
This is why I chose Education to run my fundraiser, because it is so powerful.
How did you go about fundraising, that too in a different country where microlending is still something new?
I don’t think the fact that I was in France and not in India or in America did any difference in my way of running the fundraiser. Microlending is actually developing quite fast in France and some platforms similar to Milaap are becoming more and more successful, so it was more about my own vision of how should such an event be organized rather than adapting to the specificities of one country.
Usually, fundraisers are done in an original way: cycle, run, swim for a cause. I was thinking about cycling in the south of France but I eventually chose a much more formal solution because of lack of time to organize the cycling trip but most of all because I had the feeling meeting the potential lenders was essential. I wanted to be able to explain them in detail what is Milaap, how it works and everything they needed to know about my fundraiser. I wanted to have the opportunity to answer face to face their questions.
Therefore, with the help of some amazing friends, I organized an afternoon during which anyone interested to know more about the fundraiser and Milaap’s concept could come, enjoy some appetizers and some drinks, talk to each other and listen to a presentation I had prepared. I had also written a small document summarizing this presentation that my friends and I sent to all our contacts.
So this is definitely less fun than cycling but I appreciated a lot to be able to directly talk with potential lenders. I think it contributed a lot to my fundraiser’s success. I was there to answer all their doubts without hiding anything (honesty was also a priority to me as I was feeling, in a way, responsible for their money).
For those who want to do a fundraiser for Milaap in the future, what advice would you like to give them?
Honesty, Transparency and commitment: these are my advices. You want the lenders to sincerely trust you. Don’t hide anything. Risk 0 doesn’t exist and you have to be clear about it. They already know it but the fact you say it at loud is a great sign of honesty for the lenders. Don’t try to improve anything, the reality is already beautiful. Be ready to be available for them. So many people are willing to lend but don’t know to who or how it works, are worried because it’s a new thing and they don’t understand everything. They might have some difficulties with the platform, with PayPal… You have to be there to guide them. Therefore you have to be sure that you know everything that has to be known. I was in regular contact with a member of Milaap and was asking as many questions as possible. To make sure you didn’t forget anything, you can organize a simulation with your friends, asking you questions as if they were in the position of potential lenders. They sometimes think of questions you wouldn’t have alone. It worked very well for me.
But maybe the most important is to be perfectly clear about your motivations: why are you running this fundraiser. If you know exactly what pushes you every morning to send dozens of email, then you will be able to share this excitement and this passion about your fundraiser.
You've been on a field trip with Milaap, what's your perception about micro-loans for the communities?
On the field, I had the impression that micro loans can be powerful enough to drastically improve the standards of living of our borrowers. If they make the most of their loan, then the change will be tremendous and the impact can be beyond imagination. It gives them opportunities to access basic facilities or education if they wish to. And here are the key words to my point of view: “opportunity”, “if they wish to”. I think micro loans is actually about giving people equal opportunities, access to these basic facilities but also the liberty of choice. Our borrowers now can choose to invest in a toilet. Before, they simply couldn’t even if they wished to. They were facing a wall of impossibility. Of course, it will still be hard for them but I still consider it as an amazing improvement. Micro loans contribute to reduce the inequality gap and most importantly to give them pride, independence and confidence in their abilities and their future.
Camille in Mizoram
It’s not only about help, it’s not charity. It is about improving their material comfort but also their self-esteem. I saw proud and confident women on the field, who were much more optimistic about the future and this is why I believe micro loans is the best solution we have for the moment to do some real good around us, just by lending a small amount of money.