New Frontiers

6 February 2012

An email from Iran crept through my spam filter last night. It was entitled Mohemmmmmmmmm. The message was: dastgabe zabte mokalemate. Anyone know what that means? Are they launching a missile at me or something?

Being back in El Salvador always unleashes powerful memories. So much of my early career was spent here. It tested me in ways I had never anticipated when I took the first innocent steps into the boiling waters of the civil war that engulfed the country and, indeed, all of Central America (except Costa Rica, the Eye of the Storm) during the 80s.

The Salvadorans worked it out, eventually, although to be here at the height of The Terror you would have thought the country could never return to any semblance of stability. I recall when I was at Davos in 2004, at a discussion of the turmoil in the Middle East and the growing threat of terrorism, a delegate from Uruguay reminded everyone present how South America had its own period during which home grown terrorist (they called themselves “Revolutionaries”) blew up things, kidnapped and assassinated people. His point was that it does, at some point, end. People get tired of it.

But will this same fatigue settle in in the countries of the Middle East? After several decades, if anything, it seems it’s reaching an even more dangerous point.

We are only a month into the New Year, and here at FINCA we have a surprising number of new opportunities — chances to enter new countries — on our plate. Some we had thought about for a long time — like Nigeria — but others (I can’t discuss for reasons of confidentiality) came more or less out of left field. It’s been six years since we last entered a new market, and I feel we’re ready to break new ground. It won’t be easy. There are reasons these markets are under banked. But if we don’t take up the challenge, who will?

Rupert Scofield


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