"The experience I acquired with Desjardins before joining DID enabled me to acquire the qualifications needed to carry out the mandates that I am given today."
Employed by Desjardins since 2000, François St-Pierre was business account director at the Desjardins Business Centre - Les Moulins and coordinator for new applications at the Desjardins Business Centre - Montreal Centre, then advisor for developing a credit risk scoring system at the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec. In 2008, he and his wife moved from Montreal to Lévis where François joined the office of the Vice-President for Consulting Expertise at DID.
"My first mandate was in Senegal and the culture shock hit hardest when I debarked from the plane. I had made several trips to Europe and Latin America, but I had never felt so disoriented. Even at 11 pm, human activity inside and outside the airport was very intense. And, it was very unsettling to hear French being spoken but to have no point of reference!"
François St-Pierre is recognized by DID partners for his expertise in credit and housing finance. In less than four years he has completed over 20 short-term mandates in 10 countries on three continents: Africa, Asia and the Americas.
"Specifically, this means that for each project that I am given, I coordinate the relationship with the donor agency, I ensure that the objectives set for each phase in the project are attained, and I manage the project's human, financial and material resources. Depending on the nature of the project, I am responsible for identifying and mandating experts who will carry out short-term (several weeks) or long-term (more than a year) mandates.
My second role involves providing technical services that require my expertise in credit management, usually housing credit. I do part of this work at the head office and part of it in the field on short-term missions.
I am sometimes asked what are the demands involved in carrying out DID projects. In every case, the ability to establish relationships and collaboration based on trust with the project partners and local beneficiaries is a determining factor for the success of our activities. In addition, knowing how to adapt to the legal, social and economic environment of the target country is a standard requirement at DID. Another challenge is ensuring that our recommendations take into account the norms and regulations in force, in a context where the clienteles who benefit from the microfinance services offered by our partners are from the informal sector.
At DID, we serve both our clients (the donor agency and the local partner) and the populations targeted by the project. This in fact is what makes our projects complex: we have the expertise that enables us to create and recommend suitable tools, efficient procedures and savings and credit products adapted to the microfinance sector, but our partners must see the advantages in integrating our proposals into their way of doing things and serving their clientele. Therefore, it is very important that we focus on the commitment of all the actors involved in the project so that the proposed solutions are put into practice and are sustainable. Because we are involved in development aid, managing change is an ongoing process. And it is very stimulating!"