Stories tagged with Africa

Apr 4, 2009 RW Rwanda

It’s easier to make sense of Rwanda if you erase the human element of the Genocide that happened here fifteen years ago. If we could just pretend it wasn’t actual people who perpetrated the one million unthinkable acts, it would simplify the dynamics of the country. Afterall, if we acknowledge that it was not only people but fellow Rwandese who held the machetes, we need to also see that they still exist—and not in an abstract way but in a day-to-day, walking down the street, drinking milk for breakfast, and sending children to school kind of way.

Many perpetrators of the 1994...

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Apr 4, 2009 NI Nicaragua

I recently picked up The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Director for the Study of African Economics at Oxford University and former director of Development Research at the World Bank. It has been a grim and simultaneously enlightening book, dubbed as a must-read by the New York Times and set to become a classic according to the Economist.

In a nutshell, The Bottom Billion states that our perception of development for the last forty years has...

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Mar 3, 2009 KE Kenya

Neat pajamas. That was one of two things I got out of having Amoebic Dysentery last week. The other, was a new appreciation for the work that K-MET, the development corporation with a small micro-finance wing, is doing.

Bad Food. Neat Pajamas.

I had been in Kisumu, Kenya for nearly three weeks and was really starting to hit my stride when the stomach rumble that is all too familiar to my fellow fellows rudely interrupted me. I’ll leave out the nasty parts but...

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Mar 3, 2009 UG Uganda

To understand the interest rate that Pearl Microfinance charges its clients takes more than a brief look at a few numbers.

If you ask someone at Pearl what the interest rate is on Pearl loans, they will tell you “2.5%.” This means that there is a 2.5% per month interest rate. 2.5% interest is charged on the original loan amount rather than the balance remaining – in technical terms this is a flat interest rate rather than a declining interest rate. With a flat interest rate, over in a year, the clients would be charged 30% of the original loan size, and with the declining balance...

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Mar 3, 2009 SN Senegal

Call me a skeptic, but I’m generally not one for clichés. You know how sometimes you read about situations where even though people don’t speak a common language, yet somehow, everyone understands each other? That’s not exactly my experience in Senegal. While the official language here is French, which I speak passably, the more common language is Wolof, which is spoken by the Wolof people and increasingly, almost everyone else in Senegal, though depending on where people are from, they may speak one of a dozen other languages on a regular basis. I spend a lot of my time confused....

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Mar 3, 2009 KE Kenya

“Be late, but get there”

This sticker, prominently displayed on the dashboard of the Mombasa bus, did not inspire much confidence that we would reach our destination in a timely manner, but it at least reassured my safety a bit more than another common sticker – “drive it like you stole it.”

Occasional Frequent maniacal driving aside, you are also most likely already aware of the fact that things in East Africa rarely operate in a way that someone from the United States (my home country) might call prompt....

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Mar 3, 2009 RW Rwanda

I’ve always been curious about what happens when microfinance clients open businesses in places where there is very little capital. Many operate small shops of household necessities but the placement of such stores is generally based more on proximity to home than a strategic evaluation of which part of town is most profitable. So how do they cope if their customers can’t afford to buy anything? Last week, I got my answer: credit.

Pen and Paper: How to issue credit, the old...

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Mar 3, 2009 BJ Benin

Africa. Bénin.

It shattered my worldview, changed my perspective on life. It nearly undid me. I was at times stupefied by heat and pollution, tongue-tied by the language barrier, unable to process basic thoughts, uncomfortable from stomach ailments, so overwhelmed by poverty that I could not imagine how to improve the quality of life. But I was also fascinated by the many cultures, bonding with friends of every nationality, living each day full of adventure as it were my last, traveling, collapsing into...

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Mar 3, 2009 KE Kenya

Not every day as a Kiva Fellow is a good one. There are days when I wait for seven hours for a credit officer to be available to take me to the field to collect journal updates for only two clients. There are hours of intermittent internet in which I am able to load less than one page. There are the clients I meet about whom I would be inspired except that after doing the math I’m not convinced they’ve found a way to run their businesses with a net profit. Luckily, after more than 7 months of victories and setbacks, I think I’m in the black.

Small moments compensate for...

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Mar 3, 2009 CM Cameroon

Hello from Bamenda!!!

After about a two day transit adventure (NY to Paris (7hr), Paris to Douala (7hr), Douala to Bamenda (8 hr mini bus)), I arrived in Bamenda on Valentine’s Day, a day I thought I could avoid, but was proven incorrect!  I am working with GHAPE (Grounded & Holistic Approach for People’s Empowerment) and everyone in the office is incredibly helpful and great to talk with.  However, while my time in Cameroon has been positive, I have hit a major roadblock: I brought my Macintosh with me abroad and the software for accessing the internet here is for...

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