Stories tagged with Africa

Apr 4, 2010 SN Senegal

Employees of Caurie Microfinance can be characterized by three traits: they work hard, long and passionately! How come?

Caurie staff in the branch of Louga, Senegal: hard work and an easy smile

Whatever branch of Caurie Microfinance I visit, from Louga in the north of Senegal to Vélingara in the south, the identification of employees with the institution is remarkable. Loan officers who work on loan contracts and Kiva profiles till midnight, supervisors who...

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Apr 4, 2010 BJ Benin

There are two responses Alidé’s clients in Benin have when asked to have their picture taken for Kiva: fear and delight.  Generally, both paths end with laughter and a lot of pictures of me, the Kiva Fellow assigned to Alidé.

Fear:  They say that while Benin has about 50% Christians and 40% Muslins, 95% of the population simultaneously practices Voodoo.  This means you can buy fétiches (magical objects like monkey skulls) at the market, and that you’ll encounter a number of clients who fear that having their picture taken might steal their soul....

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Mar 3, 2010 LB Lebanon

In my last blog entry, I commented on the international service workers in Lebanon. As these workers are often from underdeveloped countries (relative to Lebanon), this group represents a fascinating social dynamic in the country. Also interesting is that a sizeable chunk of the Lebanese population is engaged in work abroad, often in African countries. However unlike the thousands of Egyptians that work in manual labor or service jobs in countries like Jordan or the United Arab Emirates (both places I have lived and worked), many of the Lebanese that work in African countries are there as...

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Mar 3, 2010 BJ Benin

In addition to loans (and savings accounts, social work, and coming soon – insurance) Alidé, Kiva’s field partner in Benin, offers formations, or training sessions, to its clients.  Some are optional but there are three that are actually mandatory for a loan.

The first class is an informational session, discussing credit in general and Alidé’s offerings as a company.   The second class is about health and staying healthy.  The number one reason clients don’t pay back their loan is for health reasons, so this class is less of a public...

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Mar 3, 2010 KE Kenya

Seventeen young, scared faces sit around the board room for the full-day training of new marketers. I had been present the day that this new crop of SMEP employees was being interviewed. They had assembled en masse at our head office; many of them looking like the suit they were wearing had been hastily purchased at one of the local secondhand markets in anticipation of their first job interview.  In fact, they were what I refer to as “babies” the young-ish, newly graduated staffers whose faces more often look up at me when I am conducting trainings at the SMEP branch offices all over...

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Mar 3, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

Through Kiva, lenders are able to reach out to the far corners of the planet and in a very tangible way affect a change. With teleportation technology or a truly global financial system still being a way off, it’s not like your $25 instantaneously appears in your chosen borrower’s hand. There are MFIs who act as facilitators, this fact has given birth to a multitude of discussions concerning distinctions and degrees of P2P, these however will not be the subject of this blog entry. For my purposes it is sufficient that a connection is made – and one is, whichever way you...

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Mar 3, 2010 KE Kenya

This is a blog that I’ve written in a hurry so as not to let the words swirling in my head escape my fingers on the page. In my tenure at SMEP, I’ve never attended the weekly devotional, held every Monday morning from 8-10 in the morning. I always thought of myself as a secularist, and I assumed that attending would make me uncomfortable – after all, I come from a place where there is separation of church and everything. I’ve grown up in the deeply religious “bible belt” of the Southern United States, and I just assumed that at SMEP, the devotional...

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Mar 3, 2010 KE Kenya

Juhudi Kilimo CFO: Kevin, when you’re out in Litein, make sure you ear-tag at least one cow for our Micro Insurance program.
Me: Ummm yea, I may pass on that one, but I’ll think about it.

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Microfinance… To most people this word is synonymous with providing small loans to very low-income entrepreneurs. But microfinance is so much more than that. It involves...

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Mar 3, 2010 TG Togo

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

On Thursday March 4th, the second Togolese presidential elections were held since the death of President Eyadéma Gnassingbé in 2005. After 38 years of uninterrupted rule, his son Faure assumed the presidency. Shortly thereafter, he held superfluous elections that resulted in a “democratic” confirmation of his leadership. The country erupted in civil unrest under the pretense of false electoral results, and hundreds were killed in the resulting violence.

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Mar 3, 2010 BJ Benin

The one income family doesn’t exist in Benin.  Just like their moms and their mom’s moms, Beninese women enter the work force as soon as they’re able and keep going no matter what.  They’ll work through the rain, they’ll work through malaria, they’ll work while pregnant with all of their wares stacked on top of their heads and their children literally strapped to their backs.

For those of you who want to try this at home, here’s one Kiva entrepreneur teaching me the art of baby-strapping (and her amused friends in the background).

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