I arrived at PRISMA headquarters in Peru during a busy week for the microfinance institution. Director Diego Fernandez, who founded PRISMA in 1986, showed me around the four-story building where 38 staff members share space. They are administrators of every kind: accountants, human resource personnel, program managers and assistants—every position required by a mature microfinance organization. Lunch in the cafeteria was a highlight—Diego himself often helps “organize” the service and I was told he sometimes even cooks!
I was here to learn more about PRISMA’s experience with the Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI). The result of my trip would be a case study to share PRISMA’s knowledge with other MFIs using the PPI.
This day Norma Rosas, who heads PRISMA’s social development area, was training loan officers from numerous branches. The topic was gender issues, a key focus for PRISMA. Diego was hosting a board meeting, but we met much of the day to talk about the challenges and lessons learned from two years of working with the PPI. PRISMA focuses on the rural poor, especially women, and has used its PPI results to shape more effective ways of reaching them.
I will see this work in action tomorrow, when I leave Lima to begin a two-day visit to Pampas, a rural poor area of Peru, where I will visit with PRISMA clients.
Pat Kelly is Senior Communications Officer at the Grameen Foundation Social Performance Management Center (SPMC). She is based in Washington, DC.