At the beginning of April, Grace and I began an effort to decentralize the Kiva process at Pearl. This is the formal way of saying that we planned to visit the branches and carry out a training program that would make the Kiva process such that we would no longer be required to rip our skirts, miss spending time with our families and friends and spend 4-8 hours per day bumping along the roads of Uganda in taxis (the minibuses that Grace wrote about in a previous post).Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Africa
Over tiny cups of scalding, frothy sugar water that Senegalese people call “tea,” I have a chance daily to sit around with my fellow MFI employees and talk microfinance. The other day, I was sipping my tea with Moussa, a loan officer, and he told me about how credit is established in Senegal. Now, in America, a credit rating is a logical thing, based on the percent of your total credit you’re using, the type, duration and size of your credits, and your...Continue Reading >>
As a Kiva fellow, one of my jobs is to attend the various centers during their bimonthly meetings. At the meetings, I have found a routine: watch the groups gather and prepare their money to turn in, sing the GHAPE anthem, discuss upcoming events, and then while the loan officer works out money logistics, I interview Kiva borrowers. As you can see from the video, the other day was slightly different.
...Continue Reading >>
I am living in Kisumu, Kenya. Here is a picture of the street where I volunteer, in the Nyalenda slum.
Walking around the slum, one quickly comes across evidence of the post election violence. Burned buildings are common. As are random herds of goats.
White people in Kisumu are usually in self-contained SUVs. Not too many ever enter the Nyalenda slum. As a result, as I walk, I am usually chased by children.
If I stay in one place for too long, they gather to stare.
In the slum, you find many teenage girls. Their stories show...Continue Reading >>
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...Continue Reading >>
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...Continue Reading >>
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.
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...Continue Reading >>
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...Continue Reading >>
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....Continue Reading >>
“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....Continue Reading >>