Building resiliency among partners [blog]
Many of our partner organisations in Southeast Asia have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but they are learning how to become more resilient. This blog by Tes Pilapil, Oikocredit’s Regional Director of Southeast Asia, shares about how our partners are practicing solidarity and strengthening their organisations via Oikocredit’s digital webinars.
After the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, we saw many of our partner organisations across the globe struggling to navigate through the crisis. It has been estimated that the pandemic has pushed millions of people into extreme poverty. Low-income people, like the ones that our partners serve, have been hit exceptionally hard. Our partners are not only recovering from the crisis themselves, but they are trying to find ways to further support their clients during these challenging times.
It has been estimated that the pandemic has pushed millions of people into extreme poverty.
At the same time, we have been encouraged to see many of our partners handling the crisis really well. This contrast made us realise that a platform was needed for partners to learn from each other and share best practices to help them get through the pandemic. As a result, in April 2020, Oikocredit’s Southeast Asian, African and Latin American regions hosted a series of webinars for our staff and partners, which received very positive feedback.
A year later we decided it was time for another collective check in with our partners to exchange more substantial lessons on coping during the pandemic. We wanted to specifically discuss:
Their key learnings on resiliency
The main challenges our partners faced and what they did to overcome them
What support is currently needed to help our partners and their clients and what future support might be needed
The Southeast Asia region kicked-off the first webinar of the new series in March 2021, joined by 32 participants from 16 microfinance organisations based in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Cambodia.
The webinar helped them to reflect on and assess the key success factors that helped them get through the crisis last year. It also gave them new perspectives on how to better prepare their organisations and clients for the future.
Client engagement and digitalisation
Because of the various contexts (countries, cultures, type of investments, etc.) and stages of the pandemic that our partners are facing, we decided to bring in two speakers (CEOs) from MFIs in two very different countries: the Philippines and India. Both countries have been hit hard by the pandemic, so they had a wealth of knowledge and experience in navigating through the crisis. This resonated well with the group because even though these two organisations are very different and their governments are handling the crisis in different ways, they shared similar challenges and offered similar solutions. The two most important messages they shared were: (1) client engagement is crucial and (2) there is a great need for digitalisation.
This had such an impact on the group, and we received several requests to dive into this topic further. As a result we are now planning webinars around these specific topics. Our partner organisations are very eager to learn about the best practices on client engagement in times of crisis. They also saw how digitalisation could help them move forward and wanted to learn how to either get started or how to enhance what they were already doing in this area.
After the presentation we provided the group with an opportunity to share about their specific challenges and invited others to offer input into how they might be able to tackle those challenges.
Overcoming challenges and moving forward
Our partner organisations are not the only ones who have had to overcome challenges. We’ve also been working hard to overcome our own. Not being able to visit our partners in person has been quite difficult. We’re used to being right there with them, to help assess their needs and see where we can best support them. Before the pandemic, we were working on a number of initiatives to help enhance their work, but we’ve had to set that aside. Our partners are all motivated and eager to recover and move forward, but right now they are still in the recovery phase.
Even though the pandemic is still ongoing, our partners are becoming more resilient and are working hard to persevere and innovate so that they can continue to navigate through this difficult time. They are all eager to learn, improve and do well!
We will continue to find ways to connect with our partners and support them wherever possible, like we did with this webinar. The feeling of seeing our partners, albeit digitally, and hearing how they are doing, always gives us a good feeling. And seeing how engaged and motivated they are to persevere, gives me a lot of confidence that we will get through this together.