Greetings! My name is Ai Li Ang and I live in Chicago, Illinois, in the USA. I was born and grew up in Malaysia and am ethnically Chinese (this detail will be relevant later on). I arrived in Azerbaijan as a Kiva Fellow to work with one of Kiva’s partners, Norwegian Microcredit (Normicro). This is the second time that Normicro is hosting a Kiva Fellow. Since the previous Fellow, Liz Vallette, departed in fall of 2007, Normicro has continued to experience tremendous growth in number of clients served and loan portfolio. In less than a year, Normicro has added 2 branch...Continue Reading >>
Over the past five months I have, several times, made the ignorant mistake of poking fun at the perceived idea of ‘cold’ here. Coming from Minnesota, land of ‘the nation’s ice box’, where just a couple weeks ago it hit a record low of 40 below, before wind-chill, I have a different mentality of cold than someone from a not-so-northern state, who might put on a winter jacket when the weather hits 60, when we don a t-shirt come spring when the thermometer notch reads above freezing. So, when traveling to places in Peru and now Guatemala, that are known to the locals as unbearably cold, I...Continue Reading >>
Greetings, friends and strangers.
I’ll be spending the next 3 months in Samoa providing you with my observations of the country, people and most importantly, South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), the MFI at which I’ll be working and to whom you may have lent.
I will not offer my impressions of Samoa until several weeks have passed and I can start to make some sense of everything. Otherwise, it would only be a collection of incoherent ramblings about a country of which I do not even speak its native language.
Many have asked where Samoa is located. Or...Continue Reading >>
Sometimes the end is the best beginning. And, by the end of my first repayment day, a group of four women marched past me, through the hallway and onto the red dirt path outside the house where they had just completed their repayments. As they passed, some were shaking their heads, others were raising their voices in frustration, but they were all unified by their goal – to make a visit on a member of their group who was absent from the repayment meeting and failed to make another repayment again. The rest of the group covered her payment for her. Now it was time to...Continue Reading >>
Stepping out onto the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital city is a quick way to gain insight on the local economic situation. The streets of Baku, much like other large cities, are plagued with traffic and drivers who use their horns more than they obey any sort of traffic laws. The mixture of vehicles that fill the roads is telling of the wealth disparity. Public transport is accomplished by aging mini-buses called marshrutkas plying the streets in all directions. Larger city buses are mostly absent so these marshrutkas provide the most comprehensive city transport in Baku. Although bus...Continue Reading >>
Or as locals would say hello in Ronga: Shawane!! For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Beatriz, originally from Brazil, and will proudly be a Kiva Fellow with Hluvuku-Adsema in Mozambique for the next 4 months.
I have arrived 2 days ago and so far so good! Hluvuku seems to be an outstanding organization. Fast growing since its establishment in 2004, today it has more than 2,000 clients and an outstanding loan portfolio of almost $1.0 million dollars. Hluvuku mission is to promote social and economic...Continue Reading >>
Along with its microfinance unit, CRAN also sponsors social development projects. CRAN has built 5 schools in Ghana and has provided a community with clean running water. I recently got an opportunity to visit a CRAN sponsored school in the Abaenu community. To get to the village a 4×4 vehicle is a must. Once you turn off the nicely paved road headed to Accra, you embark on what is only comparable to a roller-coaster ride. For about 3 miles the truck bounced up-and-down, sided-to-side and every other way imaginable. After we arrived at the existing school it was apparent...Continue Reading >>
TANZANIA. Last week, I was given the opportunity to train BRAC Tanzania staff on Kiva in Kibiti, which is located about 150 km outside of Dar es Salaam. Riding from the noisy, congested (yet still completely lovable) city to the luscious green countryside brought refreshment to my senses.
... Continue Reading >>
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...Continue Reading >>