Monday, June 05, 2006

Any Questions?

We were at the grand imperial at 10 in the morning waiting for Martin O Reily to pick us up and drive us 82km away to Uganda Martyrs University to give a talk about our project. We stopped at the equator where for $2.50 a few guys on the side of the road would show you that water does not spin in either direction when a basin of water is emptied at the equator.

We weren’t exactly sure about the details of the presentation until we were in the car. Our talk wasnt until 5:30 so we took advantage of Martin’s suggestion to create a survey to be filled out by the audience. I presented the powerpoint on time which meant that half the room filled up after I had begun. The presentation was split half and half between an explanation of Kiva and intocontext. My playful presentation jokes fell on 80 or so sets of deaf ears. I finished with a recap for late arrivals.

When I opened it up for questions we got slaughtered. Actually, there were no comments on our project. The response was very critical with very pointed remarks about the failures of Kiva even in a large sense about what their intentions were. They brought up issues we had never considered like what if people use Kiva to launder money. What measures had Kiva taken to protects the MFIs. We dealt quite particularly with a number of individuals who had lots of comments. The presentation lasted 15 minutes and the discussion for an hour and a half. Jon and I were shocked and collectively were able to put together a response but clearly our presentation had holes. When I wrapped up and thanked everyone that is when it all came clear. The most critical people were the most interested.

I handed out tons of business cards and fielded questions for another hour. We didnt realize that these people who hold upper level positions in MFIs think that Kiva is a threat to them. They suspect that Kiva is offering a great product in order to build up a base of clients that they can then access directly and cut out the MFI's. It was all new to us. We aren’t Kiva veterans so we don’t have all the details to defend some of the moves or intentions of Kiva other than to say "come on this is my friend Matt Flannery not a criminal."

People were very excited about the idea and see the potential, that is for sure, but they also recognize the threat. It was very interesting for us. We have lots of surveys filled out and that should help us understand further what hurdles exist for Kiva.

We left the auditorium after it was already dark and it was very clear that we had been abandoned. We hadnt seen Martin since he left us at the dining hall for lunch. After poking around a bit and asking some questions and calling Martin we realized that we were not going to get back to Kampala that evening so we settled for a room on campus. We visited the campus bar and watched a nature program about the wildebeest migration. The peace and quiet of campus life felt good.


Blogger Matthew Flannery said...

Hey Cale

Welcome to my world. This business model can be a very controversial subject. We should have prepared you more. I find that some people react very strongly at first, for the positive or negative. However, the more I explain the intricacies, and invite people to participate in solving problems, people come to our side. Talk more later bout this.


5:06 PM  

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