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Communicating With Your Host Club & Joining an Insight Trip
Category: Microcredit | By BChinnery, 5-Jan-2014 | Viewed 2337  Comments 0
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A critical step for a successful microfinance project is to have strong, ongoing communications with your host Rotary club from the beginning, throughout the life of the project, and beyond. 

In order to arrange an insight trip, it's generally expected that your base financial commitments for the project are already confirmed. This may, or may not, include District or Foundation Grant applications at this stage. Your host country must also add a small amount and will need to have committed to their portion of the contribution. 

Our group's trip to Honduras was arranged by Opportunity International Canada because of their connections in the country with IDH, the microfinance institution (MFI) on the ground who conducts the lending with the borrowers. You may need to inquire about the best way to plan your trip depending on your destination and your club's experience with these trips.

The purpose of the insight trip is to conduct a Community Needs Assessment as needed (detailed in the Grants Management Manual), to meet and discuss expectations and timelines, to visit the microfinance site, and to meet others who may have already successfully used microfinance loans to empower their lives.

While at your host country location, it's a good idea to ask the club members what their microfinance experience has been to date, both in their club and in their general lives, and to learn from their perspective. Microfinance is a multi-billion dollar industry in the world, so be aware that your hosts may know more than you!

My recommendation at this stage is that you download, print and create a reference binder of the Rotary documents you'll need, beginning with 'The Grants Management Manual' at www.rotary.org and review each section in detail with your committee members, start to finish, several times as needed. 

You will find additional required documents such as:
- Memorandum of Understanding, a required document to create your project guidelines
  and operations
- Communities in Action, to understand the Community Needs Assessment
- Community Assessment Tools
- Global Grant Application
- Global Grant Application Supplement for Microcredit Projects
- Monitoring Plan

You'll want to pay special attention to the instructions given and be sure to follow them as the Rotary Foundation is very clear on what is, or is not, acceptable. Following the instructions concisely will greatly enhance your chances of smooth Foundation grant approvals. 

The Manual is your bible to a successful project and will be an invaluable resource in guiding you and your team through the various stages as smoothly as possible. We were well received by the Foundation team and have found the lines of communication are open. So, although you are expected to do your homework, they are there to help and will assist with questions and answers, so don't be afraid to ask.
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