Introducing the new Volunteer Mentor display feature

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Julia Kurnia, Jul 31, 2013.

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  1. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Director, Zidisha Zidisha Staff

    Dear all,

    Today we introduced a new feature, which will display on each loan profile page the name of the Volunteer Mentor who is assigned to that borrower.

    Volunteer Mentors are residents of borrowers' communities, usually Zidisha borrowers themselves, who volunteer their time to assist new members to interact with the Zidisha website. They provide an invaluable service in ensuring good communication with members in their areas, especially those who do not use the internet frequently.

    The purpose of making the Volunteer Mentor's name visible is to make it easier for our members to share information among themselves, without having to go through Zidisha staff. Up until now, lenders who received no response to their comments in borrower profile pages or news about the reason for missed payments have had to wait for our volunteer staff to communicate with the borrowers and post responses on their behalf. That solution worked while we were still small, but we have now grown to the point where having our limited number of volunteer staff provide extensive personalized communication for each individual loan is not always possible, especially in Kenya where we have funded thousands of loans.

    Displaying the Volunteer Mentor's name gives lenders the option to post a message on the Volunteer Mentor's profile page in the event that they are trying to find out the reason for missed payments and the borrower is not responding to their comments. The Volunteer Mentor, who has access to the borrower's contact information and is likely already familiar with the borrower's situation, can then answer the lender's questions.

    This capability is part of our overall approach of decentralizing communication and follow-up activities to lenders and borrowers themselves, so that our community can operate well at scale in a way that encourages members to stay engaged and active. As with our other innovations, we cannot be certain how this feature will work out until we see how members use it in practice. If it proves to be useful, we will continue to develop and build on it such that it becomes increasingly easy for our members to collaborate and share information freely.

    Best,

    Julia Kurnia
    Director, Zidisha
     
    Evelyn, KirstenShute and fcjapan like this.
  2. KyRoamer

    KyRoamer Forum Member

    Great idea. Thanks for the added transparency.
     
    fcjapan likes this.
  3. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Director, Zidisha Zidisha Staff

    Hi fcjapan,

    Are you logged in to your lender account? I believe the "Post a Comment" link displays only to logged-in users...

    Best,

    Julia
     
    fcjapan likes this.
  4. KyRoamer

    KyRoamer Forum Member

    Worked for me. Just tested one however and it might not work on all.
     
    fcjapan likes this.
  5. KyRoamer

    KyRoamer Forum Member

    The volunteer mentor I checked was mentoring 583 borrowers. Mentors should be restricted to far fewer or no real mentoring is going on. Maybe it works if their sole role is to be a point of contact and they are rarely called upon.
     
    fcjapan likes this.
  6. Julia Kurnia

    Julia Kurnia Director, Zidisha Zidisha Staff

    Hi fcjapan,

    I see what you mean - it turns out that the volunteer mentor for whom there is no comment posting option is one of the unusual cases where a local resident who is not a borrower is serving as a volunteer mentor. He therefore created a lender account, and it is not possible to post comments in lender accounts.

    For the loan to Ms. Kingori, I see from our staff notes that we have been trying to telephone her, her former loan officer, and the community leader who signed a recommendation in support of her application to join Zidisha, repeatedly ever since her loan first fell into arrears, without success - all three phone numbers are inactive. Ms. Kingori predated our current application requirements, which call for more extensive backup contacts to minimize the risk of loss of contact with borrowers, and so we only have those three contacts. We are currently waiting for a local volunteer to be able to visit her address to find out what has happened to her. As soon as we are able to find out any news, we will post an update on her profile page.

    Best regards,

    Julia
     
    fcjapan likes this.
  7. Denise

    Denise Gold Member

    I'm having the same problem with this thread
    His VM is Paul Kamau, who has a lender page, so I can't comment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2013
    fcjapan likes this.
  8. KyRoamer

    KyRoamer Forum Member

    He too is not a borrower. We need to be able to communicate Lender to Lender. If a lender is on these forums, we can start a conversation and the lender will be notified. Took bad the main board has no private messaging.
     
    fcjapan likes this.
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