During the interviews, due to the large number of applicants that we eventually ended up having (around twenty), Cyril and I ended up conducting half of them, while Charlie and Theo did the other half. Afterwards we deliberated on who to fund amongst them. It was necessary to lower the amount of money the budgets asked for in order to fund more people. The final result was twelve new clients with five old ones, seventeen in total. After that, names of the clients were posted as well as the date for the contract signing ceremony.
The ceremony took place in Centre Sociale. As in previous years, the first thing we did was act out a “sketch” (skit) where I was the beneficiary and Theo and Fidele played my parents who had made me give them my loan money. This was done to showcase to the applicants that they shouldn’t give their money to family members in the likely event that they wouldn’t be able to successfully complete their projects. Following the sketches, I called out the names of the clients one by one to come sign their contracts with their two witnesses and receive their money. When this was done, Cyril, Theo and I worked with the applicants on their payment schedule. The entire ceremony took approximately three hours, but when it was done, I had successfully completed my project.
Throughout the duration of my project I encountered one main problem. The first one I know past students had also encountered: the lack of intimate knowledge with the types of commerce here that many of the projects were based on. This was most apparent during the interviews. Even though I had gone over the budgets the night before and had prepared notes for each of the applications, I felt as if the questions I had prepared were not significant enough. For instance, while I focused more on the when and how the applicants planned on selling their wares, I should’ve focused more on the budgets themselves, for apparently there were many discrepancies that my culturally inexperienced eyes had missed. Although to be fair, the very nature of my inexperience prevented my having foreseen the discrepancies in the first place. The discrepancies that I speak of pertain to materials the applicants had forgotten or had mistakenly added when they weren’t needed. Or simply problems with how to calculate their revenue to show a profit. It was in such cases that I really felt the work of Cyril and Theo were indispensable, for the knowledge that I lacked was not one that could be easily acquired in the short time frame afforded me here.