Nov 8, 2007 WS Samoa

Every year, SPBD holds an event to celebrate its clients. An award ceremony is usually held to recognize exceptional members among the ladies who participate in the loan program. This year’s event was held this past Saturday, and it proved to be the grandest celebration to date. For the first time ever, a parade was organized to march down the main road of Apia, featuring over one thousand of SPBD’s clients. The boisterous women arrived in the early morning and, decked out in matching uniforms according to their borrowing centres, sang and danced their way to the starting...

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Oct 14, 2007 UG Uganda

My husband, Taylor and I have had an exciting and challenging first few weeks as we meet new people, learn about the culture, and try to navigate in a city of a million people, with 2 traffic lights total  Peter, LiA’s staff member was the first to show us around. I thought we would get at “taxi,” meaning a driver in front and us in the back, I soon discovered that “taxis” were called Matatus. For anyone who has experienced this form of transportation, they can understand the deer in the headlights look as I boarded a small mini-bus packed with people while the conductor yelled at me in...

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Oct 12, 2007 UG Uganda

It was not my intent to write so soon about another lending group, but I found a real gem in the Alinyikira Lending Group in the Village of Mutundwe, just on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda.

To get to Mutundwe, you have to go to Old Taxi Park in the center of Kampala. This could be a story in itself, but in brief, it consists of approximately 10 acres of land jammed with matatoos: converted Toyota vans capable of handling 14 passengers. They all are white and look exactly the same. Thousands of riders are constantly converging on the park as...

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Oct 8, 2007 WS Samoa

After tossing out some statistics on the poverty situation in Samoa in my first entry, I think I’m ready for a more personal take on the impact of impact of micro-credit and the overall economic situation in Samoa.

South Pacific Business Development is one of Kiva’s earliest partner microfinance institutions. With an entire staff of just 16 employees (including management), the institution covers over 2,000 active clients, whose loans total over $700,000. SPBD follows the original Grameen Bank model by administering its loans via borrowing groups. With very few exceptions, all of...

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Oct 7, 2007 UG Uganda

Rabaga is a district of Kampala, Uganda. It rests on the slope of a hill. Within Rabaga and hidden from the street by small store fronts is an area referred to as a slum. Indeed, it may be a slum, but it is not without a strong sense of community: made stronger by the women who belong to the Rabaga Women’s Lending Group. They meet once a week but their spirit permeates their community daily. They are leaders who wish to make a difference in their community. And, they all own businesses within this area.

I went to attend the group meeting with my translator, Herbert. As we...

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Sep 28, 2007 UG Uganda

Eleven years ago, when I first moved into the neighborhood where I now live, I held a block party. I wanted to meet my neighbors – didn’t want to drive home, politely nod at folks I hadn’t met, but lived next door.

So, I had a block party. It worked. In fact, for the past ten years, it’s rotated from house to house. But, after the seventh year it started to get a little long in the tooth. The desire to “connect” was waning.

I miss the connection. Not just in the neighborhood, but in other ways, too. Too much pop culture, not enough real...

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Sep 26, 2007 KH Cambodia

When I arrived here I was told that Phnom Penh was changing so quickly that even in the two months I would notice the difference in the city between when I arrived and when I left. It’s true that the city have been moving extraordinarily quickly. In 2000 there were no paved roads – now all the main streets are paved- and in 2005 there were no ATMs whatsoever – now they are everywhere. Nonetheless, I was skeptical that I would actually see any changes for myself, but it turns out they were right. My first journal mentioned the craziness of Phnom Penh’s...

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Sep 26, 2007 KH Cambodia

First day in the field

On the morning of the 5th September, a credit officer, a man who works in the office and speaks both English and Khmer, and I headed out to the field. The credit officer had his own motorbike, and I sat on the back. Despite being early morning the thick heat hung in the air and was steadily increasing. We zoomed up the main streets for about 15 minutes, past restaurants, markets and shops until we came to an abrupt stop by an alleyway that I probably would not have noticed myself. It was so narrow that the bikes...

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Sep 25, 2007 WS Samoa

Talofa! I can hardly believe that I am writing this from Samoa, the “Treasured Islands of the South Pacific”. I hope you will bear with me over the next 13 weeks as I share my experiences of working at the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), Kiva’s partner MFI on the island.

Departing Los Angeles on a direct red-eye to Samoa, I arrived in the wee hours of the morning, weary and excited. The humid island air and a light rain were the first things to greet me as I stepped off the plane. I was later informed that my arrival coincided with the first signs of precipitation in...

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Sep 18, 2007 KE Kenya

Totos in Kayole Slums

Jambo Jambo everyone! Sadly my blogging and Kiva time has come to an end, I am actually writing this from home as I thought it would be interesting to compose my final installment from the perspective of being back in the ‘developed’ world. But before I launch into the big spiel I prepared about my amazing time in Africa, I will first delve into my last week working at Action Now Kenya.

My last week was pretty busy,...

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