Last time when I mention this issue in my blog, it was only a complaint from a concerned mother who sent her child to one of Bloom's study trip. The borrower her money funded a loan for didn't use it for dogs, so it raised concern, but did no harm. All we needed to do was to assure her that we would never support or engage in practicing animal cruelty. But till then, none of our borrowers want to borrow money to raise dogs. But the fear has finally come true. There is one request for loan to raise dogs, from a particularly difficult situation.
This matter has been discussed, and the result is likely to be a big "NO", because of the worry that "one bad comment/review on tripadvisor will hurt the business so bad". Precisely because Bloom is so young and dependent on words of mouth, we don't dare to do anything against the taste of our clients. And everyone knows where the most forceful animal activists come from. The West, of course. It is also where the most of our money come from.
So one disadvantage of combining tourism with mircrofinance is the need to please consumers. We more or less produce a service, they consume it, if they are happy, they pay, and with their money, we grow. When the customers have different values and beliefs than the people at the other end of this consumption, namely those who love eating dogs and rely heavily from money earned from them, this can create strains. If customers is more valued, i.e. demand of capital is higher than supply for capital, then it's their value and beliefs that are taken into account.
This particular woman is a special case. Here is what I wrote about her and put in the borrowers' database:
Family Background: Ms. Ly has a very complicated situation, but a very cheerful personality despite her life tragedy. She divorces her first husband, with whom she has 2 children. The first son lives with his father. The son has married, has one daughter but got divorced and the baby girl is now living with her mother. He is very much a playboy and sometimes comes to his mother to ask for money. However, Ly insists that she never gives him any money, just food. The second daughter, Thuy, finished grade 6 and lives with her. She has married and also got divorced. Ly says her daughter is slow, but since it’s common for separated women to be conceived by villagers as not intelligent, slow or lazy, we don’t take it much serious. Thuy has started working in a factory about 20km from home a month ago and now she rents a room to stay there. Ly’s youngest daughter is from another man. She is now in grade 4 and her tuition is two million a year. From Quyet, we know that they have never been officially married, but now he is living in a province very far from Hanoi.
Quyet also told us that Ly was trafficked to China for 2-3 years and she managed somehow to escape. Someone kidnapped her against her will but not many details are known to the villagers. The house she is living in now was contributed by the women’s union. Lien Xuan is her natal home, so she doesn’t own much land here since all her children’s land are in her first husband’s village. Ly inherits one unit of land from her father.
She took a small loan from the Social Policy Bank a few years ago and fully paid and has no existing debt.
But she won't get a loan, as long as it is against the belief that dogs should not be eaten, held by those who supply the capital for her loan.
Isn't it very much imposing what you think are right on others? And you claim that you are trying to experience true and authentic Vietnamese culture, just want to do good and feel happy to make a difference? And what about "an equal exchange relationship"?
So the question is not whether we should eat dogs or not, but rather it is whether we should, according to our love for dogs and animal ethics backed by a comfortable life and secure livelihood, deny a woman a chance to feed her children and improve her life?