Jul 8, 2014 KE Kenya

Last week I travelled to Nakuru, a town to the northwest of Nairobi in Kenya's Rift Valley Province, about three hours away by matatu.  Matatus are the predominant mode of transport in Kenya and while they lack a few comforts - leg room, air conditioning, suspension, and any limit on the number of people that will attempt to fit inside one simultaneously - they have the benefits of being cheap, efficient and reliable, and handle Kenya's potholed roads reasonably well.  
Jackline and her clothing business in Keringet...
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Jul 3, 2014 KE Kenya

Sometimes it is better to share your challenges after they happened not while they are happening, so here it goes:

 

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Jul 2, 2014 KE Kenya

After completing Kiva Fellows Training in San Francisco, and moving my last few possessions into storage in Chicago, it was time to make the 8000 mile journey to Nairobi and start my fellowship!  With the exception of some visa troubles at the airport in Chicago, the journey went relatively simply and smoothly; I passed the time pretty effectively with a combination of in-flight movies, coffee and snacks in Amsterdam en route, and reading my new book on my new Kindle.  The book, The International Bank of Bob, was written by a Kiva-enthusiast who travelled the world meeting... Continue Reading >>


Jul 1, 2014 KE Kenya

Kiva Zip is all about human connections. Three weeks in Nairobi and I am just amazed to witness the direct impact the Kiva Zip model is having on their borrowers and the strength of this bond of trustee-borrower-lender relationships.  This week, I met a Kiva Zip borrower, Esther.  She loves and is proud of her little shop “Facebook Cereal” in TOI market area of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Starting from ground zero twice in the last 10 years due to internal Kenya riots and personal medical turmoil, Esther said, “Kiva Zip came as a miracle in my life, when I had...

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Jun 30, 2014 BJ Benin

Over the past month, I have been working with Kiva partner Alidé in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. I recently visited Henriette, one of Alidé’s long-standing clients. Henriette started out selling beverages on the side of the road, eventually opening a small shop in her home. After her husband died, she needed to find a way to expand her business so that she could continue to support her two children and her adopted nephew.
Henriette showing us a portion of her stock.
Henriette first heard about Alidé from... Continue Reading >>


Jun 27, 2014 GH Ghana

When it comes to soccer, few countries can compare with the intensity and enthusiasm Ghanaians show for the sport.  When Ghana’s national team (the Black Stars) plays, everyone and I mean everyone is following the match and a contagious optimism permeates the air - no matter who the team is playing.    As one of Africa’s best known teams there is tremendous support all around the world for the Black Stars.  Ghanaians know the special place the Black Stars hold in world soccer and take a special pride in all things Black Star related.  And, as the World Cup is set to... Continue Reading >>


Jun 27, 2014 UG Uganda

Meet Agnes. Agnes is a huge fan of Kiva. She's currently repaying her 6th Kiva loan and enthusiastically states that it likely won't be her last. An outspoken mother of four children, Agnes describes living with four children as "chaos" - but pride is evident on her face as she rattles off their achievements. Her eldest daughter recently finished a business degree, her second eldest is studying IT at university, and the two younger ones are currently excelling in high school. Agnes lives in a suburb of Kampala where she used to be a member of a borrowing group. When some other members... Continue Reading >>


Jun 26, 2014 KE Kenya

When a mzungu meets a Kenyan dairy cow
It’s 3pm, heading to the office, after back to back meetings since early morning with mostly dairy farmers. We've been talking to Kiva borrowers, for borrower verification, hours away from the main business districts in the green region of Nkubu in Kenya. Now we're waiting with the loan officer for a boda boda (moto taxi) to drive us on the bumpy roads before jumping into a matatu (microbus) to our final destination, looking for some shade and freshness away from the sun and... Continue Reading >>


Jun 25, 2014 US United States

 
If you ever get the chance to visit Richmond, you will most likely spend some time in an area called Carytown. Strolling down West Cary Street you can linger at restaurants, and shop in one of the many locally owned establishments on the street. You will also see not one, not two, and not even three, but four grocery stores all within a few blocks of one another. There is certainly no shortage of access to fresh food in this area. Other areas of Richmond aren’t as lucky. Venture over to the Southside or the East End, and you will find food... Continue Reading >>


Jun 24, 2014 KE Kenya

Florence and her cow shed acquired with her Kiva loan
I will never forget the day I faced this existential question for the first time...   As a Kiva fellow, I was questioning Florence, an energetic farmer in her fifties, about her family, business, during borrower verifications in the tea plantations of Nkubu in Kenya.   Although she initially thought about buying dairy goats with her Kiva loan, she eventually decided to increase her existing cow productivity and her kids’ sanitation with it. She built a... Continue Reading >>


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