Dr. Voahirana is a member of the Top Reseau Social Franchise, a network of small private clinics in Madagascar. Her Amel clinic is located on the edge of a densely populated neighborhood in the capital, Antananarivo. The clinic serves a large number of clients from diverse social and economic backgrounds every day. It is Monday morning and Dr. Voahirana is getting ready to welcome her first client of the day. With great care, she dusts her new ultrasound machine. “I really needed this,” she said. “Having been trained in obstetrics, this equipment is a must; it will improve my medical procedures and refine my diagnostics.”
Purchased 3 months ago through a loan from Premiere Agence de Microfinance (PAMF), the ultrasound allowed Dr. Voahirana to expand her customer base and retain clients. “With this device, I was able to expand the services I offer in my clinic and clients are no longer compelled to go elsewhere. The client saves time and I get more money,” says Dr. Voahirana.
The loan was the outcome of a partnership between Population Services International (PSI) Madagascar and Banyan Global, a US-based international development consulting firm, under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Integrated Social Marketing (ISM) program. One of the objectives of the ISM program is to improve the quality of health service provision in the private sector. Banyan Global and PSI’s joint activity is designed to support Top Reseau providers in obtaining the financing they need to upgrade and expand their medical practices. Banyan Global’s Business and Finance Advisor selects the appropriate financial institutions and connects them with owners of private practices. He also offers individual coaching to providers before, during, and after the loan process. Dr. Voahirana is one of three doctors who received a loan in the pilot phase of the PSI and Banyan Global collaboration.
Having obtained a loan in the past from a commercial bank, Dr. Voahirana noted the difference between the bank loan process and the microfinance loan facilitated by Banyan Global. “For my bank loan, I sought help from a close relative because the application and the screening process was time consuming and difficult. With this micro-loan, everything was streamlined, from the paperwork until the day of receipt of the loan. And I did it all by myself.” Two days after submitting her application at PAMF, Dr. Voahirana received a positive response.
Besides access to credit, Top Reseau clinic owners also receive capacity building in financial management. Dr. Voahirana recently participated in a training course on basic accounting developed by Banyan Global. For her, the accounting training was beneficial. “Since the training, I am more cautious about my income. Before, I had no head for accounting at all.” Kajy Harizo, Banyan Global’s Business and Finance Advisor, explains: “During each training, we equip physicians with appropriate tools and tailored coaching to facilitate and improve the management of their practice.”
Based on her positive experience, Dr. Voahirana is already planning her next round of financing. She intends to acquire several computers with her next loan and create a database to manage her client flow. The database will make it easier for her to prepare reports, track the status of her stock, and improve monitoring of her patient records.