Apr 6, 2008 KH Cambodia

Only a few weeks into my fellowship in Cambodia, some things are already unmistakably clear. The Maxima staff, who I feel very fortunate to be working with, are an extremely dedicated, close knit family with an excellent client rapport and a visible love for their work. Because they love their work, they love Kiva; as a small operation with one branch (the smallest MFI in Cambodia), the impact of funding through Kiva is huge. The interest-free loans help them fund and service more clients than would otherwise be possible, and to Maxima, service is everything. The MFI...
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Apr 3, 2008 WS Samoa

I heard the claims before I arrived: “Samoans are exceptionally friendly.” It sounded simple enough; they must live with a tattooed smile and provide a helping hand to those in need. But, as I discovered, it is much more. Samoans have what I’ll call an aggressive friendliness. As I walk around town, the never-timid local Samoan will unfailingly pepper me with questions within the first couple minutes. All questions that I undoubtedly would be unwilling to answer a stranger in the US. And was quite reluctant to answer my first couple days here.

...

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Apr 2, 2008 UG Uganda

Man, it seems like the Ugandan fellows have taken over the blog! I probably should wait my turn but I wanted to tell you about an encounter I had last Sunday.

One of the great sites in Kampala is the Kasubi tombs where the Buganda kings are buried, and so on Sunday in search of touristy adventure, I went.

It’s not a very big place overall, about the size of a baseball field (to use a comparison comfortable to me), with a few huts in it. The largest is where the kings are buried behind a fig bark cloth hung from the ceiling in a place referred to as the forest. I had to...

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Mar 31, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

On Sunday, I had the privilege of spending time with an Azeri woman over lunch and walking around Baku.  For the record, I am female. I met Ulviyya on a bus a few days ago when I saw her reading English vocabulary from a dictionary that was falling apart to pieces and started talking to her.  We parted shortly after but before doing so, Ulviyya jumped on the opportunity to practice her spoken English.  She took down my mobile number and invited me to lunch on Sunday.    

Throughout the few hours we...

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Mar 28, 2008 UG Uganda

 

A few days ago we had just finished some shopping at the Uchumi supermarket at the newly built Garden City Mall. As we left the mall and walked through the car park we noticed the commotion of hundreds of people watching smoke billowing from the roof of the six story Standard Chartered Bank building. A few of the workers had made their way onto the roof and were removing tiles to allow the smoke and heat to escape. The roof of a building that’s on fire is possibly not the safest of places to be but quite a few workers seems very happy to be up...

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Mar 28, 2008 UG Uganda

Yesterday, while walking home from work, my husband and I fell into a rhythm that kept pace with a young man who was walking in the same direction. In the big city I come from, people tend to avoid making eye contact when they chance upon strangers in the street. In a country town, people tend to acknowledge each other with a friendly nod or brief smile. Ugandans will smile openly, say hello and ask how you are. They will even wait for your reply and expect you to enquire the same of them. And then, if your Luganda is good enough, or if they speak English, a light and...

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Mar 28, 2008 UG Uganda

 

Arriving in Uganda was as welcoming as my wife (Genevieve) and I had expected. We had heard and read such glowing reports of the country and its people. After only a few days in the country my first impressions of both the locals and the city of Kampala are extremely positive ones. As we left the arrivals area at Entebbe airport and stepped outside in Uganda for the first time we were greeted by a large advertising board for Barclays Bank. It says in hugely proud letters “Enjoy Africa’s friendliest...

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Mar 28, 2008 UG Uganda

I thought I knew what to expect when we arrived in Uganda. We’d been to Africa before – to Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia – for six weeks as part of a round the world backpacking trip. I fell in love with the continent then, and vowed to return. Next time, I promised myself, I’d do something worthwhile there, rather than just appreciate Africa’s beauty with the eyes of a traveler. It took a year, but my husband, Adam, and I have returned. And that worthwhile thing we’ve found is to become Kiva Fellows at Pearl Microfinance in Kampala, Uganda.

So...

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Mar 27, 2008 GH Ghana

During the last month, I’ve visited quite a few courtyards, backyards, sideyards, and frontyards. In each one, I can usually count on two things. One is that someone in the group rises to find chairs for the loan officers and myself and places these chairs in a cool, shady spot. The other is the Sinapi cheer. A loan officer walks into the meeting area and shouts, “Sinapi” and claps twice. In response, the group members yell, “Abapa” (Good Seed). This cheer goes through several more iterations with different responses and the group sits down.

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Mar 26, 2008 WS Samoa

I’ve decided to provide a pictorial representation of the loan steps for SPBD. I’ll use thumbnails because I’d like to avoid crashing the Ugandan or Mozambican or any other countries’ internet cafes. This will alow you to see some of the guys (and gals) behind the guys (and gals). I’m confident that other MFIs have similar processes. It was incredible to witness it first-hand. Hopefully this will provide a glimpse.

After a village expresses interest in starting a center (microfinance group), a representative of SPBD...

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