I’ve just gotten back from another day out at one of Saija’s branches, hard at work on this July 4th. While my colleagues in Boston are all enjoying their long three day weekends, I am here in Bihar, where we work on Saturdays! (A six day work week… no wonder the pace of development is so rapid here!) Not that I’m complaining, of course: this kind of departure from the normal routine is exactly what I signed on for. I actually think that it can sometimes take a change like this to shift our thinking, to make us open to really learning something from our experiences.
I just wanted to take a couple of paragraphs to reflect on this idea of departure and exploration, because of its centrality to the whole Ambassador experience, and to call your attention to another blog that you might want to check out if you’re interested in other instances of soul-searching in the microfinance industry.
The blog belongs to Vijay Mahajan, the founder and chairman of BASIX, which has grown over the past fifteen years to become one of India’s largest MFIs (1.5 million active borrowers, according to the MIX). At the beginning of 2011, with the Indian microfinance industry in the throes of crisis and with thirty years of his career in development behind him, Vijay Mahajan began a project, a journey of personal and professional reflection that he called a shodh yatra: “An extended grassroots enquiry into the lives and livelihoods of poor people.” And he blogged practically every step of the way.
So, what is a shodh yatra?