VISITING the homes of poor Africans who want to borrow money helps Finca International, an American microfinance firm, weed out likely deadbeats. If an applicant has an indoor toilet, or household gifts from a relative working abroad, that is a good sign. Interviewing neighbours also helps, says Mike Gama-Lobo, who looks after Finca’s operations in Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda. Such visits work so well that only 1.5% of loans default each year, but they come at a cost: Finca employs more than 1,200 travelling loan officers in these countries.