Mar 3, 2008 KH Cambodia

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I told Mr. Sokmetrey I played soccer. Sokmetrey is the Marketing Director for Hattha Kaksekar Ltd. (HKL), one of Kiva’s newest microfinance partners in Cambodia, and my main contact in the organization. After picking me up at Phnom Penh International Airport on Thursday after twenty hours of travel, Sokmetrey treated me to lunch at a noodle house. Over steaming bowls of Khmer curry we fell into a discussion about Cambodian sports. I mentioned I enjoyed playing soccer, and he immediately invited me to play with his team on Saturday...
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Mar 3, 2008 GH Ghana

Struggles. That’s what came to mind during my first days in Ghana. The struggle to find my way around to light a candle when the electricity had failed again. The struggle to keep my body hydrated in the heat and humidity. But, much more, it was the heart wrenching struggles of those around me. The crippled man trying to navigate the cratered streets and bloodthirsty taxidrivers. The mother balancing what amounts to a small woodshed of goods on her head while carrying a baby on her back and trying to contain a curious, energetic boy. Around us all, the sun was struggling...

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Feb 27, 2008 GH Ghana

I’ve been in Ghana now for one month and I realized I’ve been slacking in keeping up my journal, so I’m posting several random experiences I’ve had so far.

On most days I go out with a loan officer to take pictures of clients who are requesting loans for their businesses or have already taken a loan and we go to follow-up on their progress.  The first problem you encounter when trying to find someone is there are no street names or addresses whatsoever.  We had to find 11 borrowers who were all located within one small segment of Cape Coast, but...

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Feb 26, 2008 UG Uganda

I am writing from Buffalo NY upon the completion of my three month commitment as a Kiva Fellow in Uganda.  I want to use my final post on the Kiva Fellows Blog to thank the people who made this one of the most significant and rewarding experiences of my life.

KIVA.ORG:  First, thank you Matt and Jessica Flannery for inventing Kiva.  I have great admiration for what you started, especially since you invented an entirely new model of microfinance funding.  Without your effort and...

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Feb 22, 2008 GH Ghana

Things at CRAN have been pretty hectic the past couple weeks.  At the end of February, CRAN is having an international rating done.  This basically announces to the entire microfinance world how well CRAN is run as a MFI.  A good rating could mean new sources of capital as well as world-wide acknowledgement of CRAN as well as one of the top MFIs in Ghana.  However, a bad rating would be a set back for the organization and would dampen spirits within the organization.  All CRAN employees have been working extra hard the past several weeks to ensure they...

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Feb 20, 2008 TZ Tanzania

This past weekend was very exciting for Tanzania. As a part of President Bush’s tour of Africa, he visited Dar es Salaam. It was the first visit by an American President, since Clinton’s visit in 1998.

With typical Tanzanian hospitality, Dar was ready for the occasion, and I couldn’t help smiling… Banners were strung up that featured the Stars and Stripes crossed with the Tanzanian flag, and welcomed “Your Excellency President Bush.” Billboards were scattered throughout the city featuring a panorama of Kilimanjaro, with an artist’s rendering...

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Feb 20, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Literally. Last Tuesday was the first day it rained since I have been in Dar. There was no warning drizzle or gradual acceleration. Rather, the sky opened with a clap of thunder, and rain came down that sounded more like gravel than water as it pounded the thin tin roof over my head.

The roof belonged to YOSEFO’s center in the Tandika community. I am told that Tandika is best referred to as an “unplanned urban settlement,” although the vernacular would suggest otherwise. Inside the center, client meeting were conducted by the light of a single...

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Feb 19, 2008 UG Uganda

Kampala, Uganda    “Poverty reduction is a three legged stool balanced on income generation, savings, and education” according to Mr. Knondoker Ariful Islam, BRAC Uganda Country Manager. “Take one leg away and the stool tips over.”

While Kiva social lenders are focused on the income generating leg of poverty reduction, this discussion pertains to the education leg; specifically post-conflict education in Uganda.

Education is one of the first victims of civil conflict in Africa. This is especially true where children are targeted as potential child soldiers...

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Feb 19, 2008 GT Guatemala

I am finding myself in situations here that require much moral thought, and I can’t seem to come up with the right answer, no matter which choice I make. There are children everywhere, all of them somehow under the age of twelve, and all of them working the same trade, selling bracelets, scarves, and little souvenirs on the streets, sharing their stories of sadness and begging for your business. I don’t know what to do with them. Long ago I couldn’t have seen anything but goodness in giving to a child- believing that my money and my food will help them out of their poverty. Now, I see...

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Feb 15, 2008 UG Uganda

Kampala, Uganda    A loan funded by Kiva social lenders benefits the Microfinance Institution (MFI), the lender, as well as the poor borrower.   The MFI potentially earns gross profit from the loan to sustain its business and, in the case of a MFI structured as a for-profit company, to generate a financial return for the owners.

Where the MFI is a not-for-profit venture, surplus interest income may be invested in non-financial programs which generate expenses but little or no revenue.

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