In just two and a half years with FINCA, Happiness Biseko has moved up from a central processing officer with FINCA Tanzania to a supervisor managing a team of four. How did she do it? If you ask her co-workers, they’ll tell you it was hard work and commitment to the cause.
“Happiness is a very committed person,” says Patawose Muhango, who reports directly to Happiness. “She is where she is because of hard work.”
“She is the best,” says Happiness’ immediate supervisor, Neema Muro. “With just a little direction she will bring you results quick and fast.”
In 2011, Happiness graduated from the University of Dodoma with a degree in public administration. She immediately started applying for jobs, but it was an uphill battle. She was forced to take a volunteer position with the Tanzania Ports Authority, but realized after two and a half years that a paying position wasn’t forthcoming.
In 2015, Happiness applied for a job at FINCA. She had always wanted to join FINCA, especially because her mother had been a client for many years.
I used to see my mother going to the village banking group; that’s how I first came to learn about FINCA as young girl. In fact, my mother’s merchandise business supported us through school, thanks to loans from FINCA.
In April of 2015, FINCA Tanzania hired Happiness as a central processing officer handling disbursements, and client requests on loan-related matters. She felt overwhelmed because, as she says, “I had zero experience in banking.” Everything was new to her. “I didn’t know the terms they were using: ‘disbursement,’ ‘loan portfolio,’ ‘recovery’ – I didn’t know any of those things. So I took it upon myself to learn them, since this was going to become my life for the next many years.”
Happiness thrived in her new position, and after six months’ probation, was confirmed as a full-time employee. Pleased with her performance, FINCA Tanzania rewarded her with opportunities for advancement. “I had a chance to rotate through different tasks in my department, which allowed me to grow,” says Happiness. “I also stepped in for co-workers who were on leave or were transferred. And in March of 2017, I was promoted to central processing supervisor, managing a team of four.”
Happiness was excited about the promotion, but she had never managed others, and was afraid she might be in over her head: “I didn’t have the skills to manage people, or know how to make them responsible and accountable, or to help them manage their work.”
Eager to support a very capable employee, FINCA supervisors recommended that Happiness attend the People Management and Business Performance Training for Managers: a program created by FINCA, thanks to the partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, to equip managers with leadership and management skills. “This training opened my eyes,” said Happiness. “It taught me that we all have unique talents and capabilities, and that we can achieve more as a team. It taught me how to handle people, better understand my clients’ needs, and find solutions to address those needs.”
Neema Muro, Happiness’ supervisor, agrees. “Happiness works well with her colleagues and the training really improved her management capabilities.”
Happiness’ plans for the future don’t stop at supervisor.
My promotion has given me hope that I can grow and achieve even more. I want to earn a master’s degree in corporate affairs. My dream is to become the head of Banking Services.
With her ambition and hard work, and FINCA’s policy of cultivating new talent, there is little doubt she’ll succeed.
The current Head of Banking Services for FINCA Tanzania, Grace Akinyi, recognized Happiness’ potential from the beginning. “Within her first year, we identified Happiness’ talent and started giving her additional roles.” Akinyi acknowledges that growth opportunities are important to retaining exemplary employees like Happiness. “We knew she would serve FINCA and its clients well,” Grace said, “so we invested in her. We believe it benefits everybody: Happiness, FINCA, and especially, our clients.”