Every Kiva fellow gets excited about going out into the field. It’s usually the main reason you apply to be a fellow in the first place. To meet our borrowers, see their work, and hear their stories is an experience that is difficult to put into words. As the current Kiva Fellow in Uganda, I had my first opportunity to visit our Kiva borrowers with Grameen Foundation this week.
These borrowers are part of Grameen’s CKW (Community Knowledge Worker) program which centers around peer-nominated small-holder farmers (CKWs) equipped with a business-in-a-box funded by Kiva lenders. The package includes a smartphone, charger, and a scale. The CKWs use their phones to provide critical agricultural information to other farmers in their districts such as weather, crop disease and treatments, and current market prices to name a few.
Two of the Grameen trainers and I went out to deliver scales and listen to the borrowers’ experiences with the program thus far. Below is a quick summary of Tuesday’s trip around Central Uganda…by the numbers.
6:30am wake-up in Masaka, Uganda
2 pieces of toast
2 cups of Nescafe Instant Coffee
Masaka sunrise with my cup of coffee
8:15am Depart for Gomba
31 cows passed
28 MTN outposts
4 passengers: two Grameen trainers, myself, and one driver
3 swamps driven through
1 wrong turn
0 street signs
10:20am Arrive at Gomba community center
Grameen trainers in Gomba
Success Story: one of the CKWs told the story of how another farmer in his village grew green peppers that became diseased because the seeds he purchased were bad. The CKW alerted him to the issue with his plants and pointed him to a better source for pepper seeds. The farmer was very pleased and saw how useful the CKW’s information was to him. Early adoption is often difficult for the CKW’s as farmers can’t see tangible proof of the benefits.
12 borrowers met
5 issues raised
1 facebook friend request
One of our CKWs with her scale in Gomba
12:15pm Leave for Masaka
1,000 UGX highest price seen to charge cellphone ($0.38)
67 cows passed
28 bananas purchased
11 bananas eaten
5 different school uniforms
3 Michael Jackson songs listened to
on the road
2pm stop for Lunch in Masaka
2:40pm Leave for Masaka school
14 MTN outposts
1 street sign
3:10pm arrive at school
Success story: Julius is very happy with the program so far “now when I talk everyone knows…Julius is speaking”. He uses his ready-set phone charger to charge other cell phones in his village for a small price (400 UGX or $0.15) to earn additional income for his family which he puts towards his children’s school fees.
21 borrowers met
4 issues raised
5pm head back to the hotel, review notes and dinner
One of our Grameen trainers speaking with Masaka CKWs
59 pictures uploaded
1 Nile Special Lager
All in all, a successful day.