Lazarus Chama_microfinance

Sometimes saying no is the better answer

Written by Miyon Kautz, Director, Marketing and Engagement, VisionFund

“Love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).

Lazarus Chama, a Branch Manager of VisionFund Zambia feels that this is non-negotiable. He says, “we need to show love to our clients. I look at our vision and mission and that is my passion.” And that passion has driven him in his work at VisionFund.

Lazarus started as a loan officer, which he credits for giving him the foresight to understanding the challenges clients might face as they take out loans to grow their businesses. He learned early on in his career that our clients are what drives our business, and that he needed to invest the time to really get to know his clients if he was to help them succeed.

Lazarus moved from loan officer to branch manager when he identified a community in need of VisionFund’s services and took the initiative to clean up a failing branch in the area. It took him one year to get the branch operational, but he felt that his time as a loan officer helped him relate to not only his employees but also the clients.

His branch was one of the first in Zambia to pilot the FAST savings group loan programme. Lazarus felt that FAST was a good fit for them to pilot because the programme’s success is largely dependent on the field officers taking the time to really get to know the groups.

The FAST programme requires a shift in mindset. It isn’t about a one-time loan to a group; it’s an investment into the group and the community and sometimes that means not lending to a group until they are ready. “Our loans should be a launching pad for the group that helps them expand their businesses, and not be a deterrent that sets them back.”

Putting our clients at the centre of all we do is what our Christian faith calls us to do, our clients are the drivers of our business.


After this story was written, we learned that Lazarus has been promoted to a position of heading a newly created Eastern Region of Vision Fund Zambia.