Please note: the following blog post was scheduled prior to Typhoon Haiyan. For the latest updates on our borrowers, Field Partners, field staff and Kiva Fellows in the region, please see our blog post here.
The next few days were filled with us going to several borrowers around the greater Manila area filming their interviews and their various businesses. Each individual had a unique story to tell and each business never failed to surprise us.
Fruit and Vegetable Vendor
First up was Francisca, a fruit and vegetable vendor on the side of the road, with her home in the back. When we arrived, it was an inteviewer's nightmare because there was construction going on, dogs barking, chickens cockacockledooing, and vehicles constantly rushing by. My first thought was, "There's no way we can film a clean interview here...". As always, a solution presented itself and we were able to go to the outdoor church across the street to do her interview. She was a very nice lady who had come a long way, growing her fruit and vegetable stand over the years with her Kiva loan.
When we went back to her business to film I realized I would have to be patient because she had a constant stream of customers purchasing fruits and vegetables. There were always cars stopping and going, buying bananas or papaya or coconuts (aka Buko here). It was also noticeable that it wasn't just random people who were stopping at her shop, they were obviously repeat customers, going out of their way to come to her stand. We could see the successful business she had built first hand.
My favorite part of the day was the awesome BANANA-CAM. I managed to strap on the GoPro to a bunch of bananas and filmed the borrower in her routine of hanging them up for sale. It's the little successes that make this work so much fun - mind you Yungkit and Edwin had a huge kick out of it too.
Another shoot, another success story.
Our next stop was to Remy's rug making shop. She sold the rugs wholesale to stores, delivering 500 units each day. The rugs are usualy higher in demand from September to March, because the bulk of her products are sold to schools.
Funny story... We arrived at Remy's shop in the early morning just as the workers were getting started. When we got in, these were the "rugs" that we saw.
Needless to say, both Yungkit and I were thinking, "hmmm, these are intereseting designs". Until Remy held up the finished product. We both laughed awkwardly and embarassed. Clearly, there were several steps to rug making that we were unnaware of...
The idea of Remy's business is pretty genius. She purchases the stuffing required for the mats/rugs from local clothing factories whos leftover scraps would have otherwise been thrown out. She purchases these scraps one tonne at a time, going through a full tonne every two weeks. The workers put the scraps on the bottom piece of the material. There is a skill to it - the harder material is put on the outer edges while the softer is put in the middle to create a comfier mat to land your feet on.
Once a large pile of bottoms have their stuffing placed, a second set of workers sew on the top layer and trimming, creating a completed rug!
Remy's shop was a perfect example where we have a really great business, that may not necessarily be visually appealing for the camera. It is in settings like these that my creativity is put to the test. With the limited space available, the borrower and I put together several shots that captured her business in the most beautiful way pssible. Another large obstacle in a very urban setting was the noise. There was construction going on and right before we were about to film her interview, music from what sounded like an epic Roman war movie started to sound - turns out a Zumba class just started next door. We relied on the goodwill of people and asked the class to give us some time to shoot before they resumed their music. We lucked out and they did.
We had a lot of fun with one of the workers while filming. Both of us were mesmorized by how quickly she was able to sew a mat together, particularly when she was sewing on the pattern that circled the perimeter. After the previous filming day, we knew we wanted to use the GoPro in some way, but how? May we present the rug-cam. Yungkit managed to physically sew the GoPro onto the rug itself so that we could see it being sewn by the worker from the perspective of the product. The footage turned out great!
The shoot ended with another rainy day in the Philippines but we had a great shoot and met some hard working ladies.
Today was something different. We visited a nice lady named Rosalee, a gardener by trade. While we were driving to the shoot Michelle was telling us about the client and her "plant garden", leaving out that this "garden" spanned a few acres of beautiful landscape. Rosalee had two large pieces of land that were covered in potted greenery and fowers. Various gardeners were working away planting, trasnferring, and watering the plants. This was in a stark constrast to the setting yesterday where we were in a confined urban space figuring out what could be shot - here, there was so much going on that I barely could figure out where to begin...
During set up we got a chance to talk to Rosalee, translated by Michelle of course, and got to know her story. She got her first loan seven years ago, a small loan of 4000 pesos which is just under $100usd. She purchased all the basics you need to start a garden; seeds, baskets, tools, and fertilizers. This first loan set in motion a steady growth for the next seven years. Michelle later told us that in the seven years Rosalee has been a borrower, she has never had one late payment - which is pretty rare in the early stages of a new business.
With the earnings from her business, Rosalee has been able to purchase two vehicles to deliver to clients in other towns and provinces. She was also able to renovate her home and create a better standard of living for her family. With the growth of the business she is now able to employ six individuals and sometimes a few temporary workers when things get really busy.
Working with Rosalee was great - she had a constant smile on her face and was very hospitable. You could see how proud she was of all that she had built when she was showing us the grounds and where the border of her property was. I can only imagine what this place would look like when her flowers were in full bloom.
Once agan, another set of great stories that represent the impact that Kiva has on its' clients. Thanks again to Edwin and Michelle from CCT for coordinating these video shoots with their borrowers!
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After many years working as a producer and director at a Manhattan creative agency, Michael decided to make a change and put his skill-set to use creating meaningful content for causes he believed in. While in Guatemala on a video shoot, he had a chance encounter with a Kiva Fellow that resulted in a successful experience producing videos for Kiva's Women-Owned Businesses initiative. He profiled indigenous women and their businesses around Lake Atitlan and produced a best practices video for the local field partner, Friendship Bridge. These experiences in Central America helped him grow as a filmmaker and instilled a newfound desire to apply his craft telling the stories of the people around the world who have used microfinancing to change their lives. Michael is elated to be continuing his work with Kiva in Southeast Asia this fall. He will be tackling a new Media Fellowship, searching for the borrowers that best exemplify the power of Kiva to give people the resources to lift themselves out of poverty. This Kiva Fellowship is Michael's calling and was the opportunity he was looking for to make a difference.