“For me, all members are my friends. That my friends are happy makes me happy too. It’s that simple”
-Vu Thi Lien- a staff member of TYM-Phu Yen branch in Vinh Phuc province c
Number of years with TYM: 17 years
Number of clients served by Ms. Lien: 587
Her loan outstanding:6,7 VND billions
Savings balance:4,6 VND billions
Ms.Vu Thi Lien became a TYM Loan Officer at Phuc Yen Branch (Vinh Phuc province)in 2000. Since then her hard work, guidance and efforts have resulted in many outstanding achievements for her clients and community. Her working enthusiasm and lifestyle is a good example for microfinance officials in Vietnam. With that effort, she has become one of the top 5 credit officers chosen as 1 of 5 grand prize winners for WPF Field Officer Appreciation Award in the Asia-Pacific region. Let’s find out about her story:
“Provide the fishing-rod, not the fish”
It is the “eternal” motto of the microfinance staff; however, it is certain that very few can implement that motto effectively and properly as Ms. Lien does. In addition to giving loans to members, she always thinks of how to make them benefit from that. Thus, during her 17 years of working, she has always tried best to motivate and support her members, guide them to use loans effectively. With here support, many women has get out of poverty and achieved a better life.
One such member is Ms. Nguyen Thi Ly, (Center30, Vinh Tien Village, Ba Hien Commune, Binh Xuyen District, Vinh Phuc Province). Ms. Ly had a small business in Southern Vietnam, but was forced to return to her hometown in Northern Vietnam when she went bankrupt in 2004. She returned home with only 2 million VND (USD 88) in hand. Her parents could not give her any money as they were too poor themselves. Observing that Ms. Ly lived in a residential area which was far away from the market, Ms. Lien advised her toopen a small grocery store in her neighborhood to sell salt,sauces and other everyday essentials. In addition, Ms. Lien connected Ms. Ly with a friend who distributed food, so that she could buy stock at whole-sale prices and return unsold goods. Ms. Lienencouraged Ms. Ly to take outa VND 7 million (USD 308) loan from TYM to set up the business. After some time, the business stabilized.Ms. Lien continued to meet with the local Women’s Unionasking them to promote the store to build up clientele, as a result Ms. Ly has sold goods to a large number of local womenin the area. Thanks to Ms. Lien’ssupport, the business grew, four years later they were back on track and owned “Hai Ly” a successful grocery store. After accumulating some capital from thestore, Ms. Ly and her family wanted to develop their business even further but where unsure aboutwhere to invest. Once again, Ms. Lien provided recommendations, this time she suggested theysellpetrol, as the nearest petrol station was three kilometers away. Ms. Ly listened to the clever advice and began selling cans of fuel for motorbikes. Soon after, she borrowed another loan from TYM to open a service station.Ms. Lien continued to assist Ms. Ly’s family by askinga close friend in the petrol business tohelpMs. Ly’sfamily out with technical advice. That’s how, for the second time, Ms. Ly’s family succeeded with the help of Ms. Lien, their devoted, enthusiastic Credit Officer!Ms. Nguyen Thi Ly’s success story was recognized nationally in 2009 when she was awarded theMicro Entrepreneur Award by Citi Foundation.
Another TYM client who has greatly benefited from Ms. Lien’s outstanding service is Mrs. Nguyen Thi Mai (in Block 10, Nui Village, Quat Luu Commune, Binh Xuyen District, and Vinh Phuc Province). Ms. Mai was also recognized by Citi Foundation with the Micro – Entrepreneur Award in 2012. While managing Centers in Quat Luu commune, Lien saw an opportunity, she realized that the locals grew high – quality sweet watermelons, but saw there were limited points of sale – producers sold their fruit on the roadside and made very little profit. Ms. Lien suggested that Ms. Mai buy watermelons and sell them to a fruit-processing factory known to her. Ms. Mai took the idea on board and set up a new business, which has become very productive. Thanks to the intervention, people in the region can now sell their produce at a higher price and enjoy a better quality of life. In addition to that, it seems that a great love for the members always motivates her to find out ways to support them. Many members and their husbands, who had not had a stable job, were introduced to reliable employers. To name a some, husband of Ms. Huynh, member of center 7, was introduced to work for the Construction Company no. 4 of the Hanoi Construction Corporation; Ms. Yen in Center 59 was introduced to work for Ms. Hanh, another member in Center 35 etc. So far, all of them have earned stable income from these works.
Sharing difficulties with members, spreading kindness to the community
Perhaps, the most valuable thing is that she always helps members in a thoughtful and integral attitude. Because she understands that, the “dedicated” in the core value of TYM means the companion and sharing with members towards a better life. Among the members that Lien has managed the case of Ms. Nguyen Thi Lieu(Center8, Vai village, Quat Luu commune, Binh Xuyen district, Vinh Phuc province) is perhaps one of the most touching. Lieu is a single mother and has an unstable income. She raises pigs and cows to send her daughter to school. Life for her had always been hard, but when she was hospitalized due to liver malfunction things became impossible. She had no one to pick up her 8-year-old daughter from school or take care of her. Understanding and sympathizing with her situation, Lien started taking her daughter to school after arranging with the Head of the Transaction Office to adjust her collection schedule from 7 to 7.30amso she could take the young girl to school and later collect her at 5 p.m. Lienhadto juggle her family and work commitments in order to help out;Aside from getting her to school and back Lien also talked with the other members in the center to take care of her livestock. During the holidays, Lien visited the girl and helped her to take care of herself; she taught her to ride a bicycle so she could get to school. She also organized a money collection from 30 members in the center in order to buy her a bicycle and an electric rice cooker. Lieu was touched and grateful to see her daughter being cared for by TYM staff and other members in the group. Fortunately, after several months of treatment in hospital, Ms. Lieu’shealth gradually stabilized.
Among 587 members served by Ms. Lien, there are many who have made progressive changes in life thanks to her support. Witnessing her incredibly beautiful work, not only the staff of the branch but also other members are inspired and motivated. That’s why she is always loved and trusted by members. Hopefully, when reading her story, fellow staff of TYM and other MFIs will take it as a motivation and inspiration in work and life.