Major crises often force us to think differently. Many of our partners in which we invest manage to display the necessary flexibility. Optima, a microfinance institution in El Salvador, sets an inspiring example.

On March 10th, the Incofin cvso Investment Committee approved a Technical Assitance (TA) project to support Optima to strengthen its operation risk management. The contracts were signed and the consultant recruitment process was ready to be launched. Then, the COVID-19 crisis hit.

Normally, once a TA project is approved, we draw up the Terms of Reference with the outline and objectives of the project, then the recruitment of the appropriate consultants starts and eventually the selected team of consultants is dispatched to our partner working together on the field. This time, the exceptional circumstances thwarted the process: the consultants were suddenly faced with strict travel restrictions and Optima was unable to continue its everyday work how it usually did.

Incofin and Optima decided to switch quickly and immediately adjusted the project mandate to shift the focus to digital transformation and business continuity, which will matter for Optima in post-corona times. The consultants did not let the travel restrictions discourage them and conducted the initial interviews with Optima management via video conference as part of a “virtual diagnostic” in preparation for their first field visit once travel is possible.

“COVID-19 has accelerated our digital transformation but also has excelled our imagination, teamwork and effort. We are beyond thrilled about this project and during this difficult time, it has gained even more importance than when we started dreaming about this collaboration.“

Victoria Figueroa, Project Manager Optima

 

When El Salvador went in lockdown, Optima had to close its offices. They addressed this challenge with a creative solution. They incorporated motorized delivery services in order to go to their client to disburse credit loans or to take care of the administration with the customer.