By now, the living room with blue velvet couches really does feel like home. My Togolese family members who welcome me when I walk in the house are happy to see me. They call me ta-ta, then we slap hands with a finger-snap at the end (the Togolese really love that snap – I wonder who did it first, us or them?). The adorable 1-year old, Leona, runs up with her nose crinkled in a big smile, no longer wide-eyed in fear as she was when she first saw this bizarre-looking stranger. Then I drop off my bag in my room and they...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Africa
On November 27-29 ANK held a training seminar for approximately 25 of its borrowers in the Kayole section of Nairobi. Kayole is on the outskirts, about 30 minutes from the city center.
The borrowers were mostly women, and they showed up a little apprehensive as to what they would be doing at the training. None of them have gone through any kind of formal training before and most have them never went to college; some had finished high school.
I was very happy to see that ANK was doing this kind of training. I have long wondered about this gap in microfinance: what good is it...Continue Reading >>
The microfinance institution I have been working with, through Kiva, is called BRAC, Building Resources Across Communities. Since 1972, BRAC has been tackling the various dimensions of poverty through its holistic approach to poverty alleviation. BRAC has programs in economic and social development, health, education, and human rights and legal services. Operating in several countries all over the globe, BRAC is one of the world’s largest NGOs.
Here in Sudan, BRAC has been instrumental in providing the country with the assistance it...Continue Reading >>
After a few days, I felt mostly adjusted. I liked what was I doing and I had gotten used to fans only at night. I was sitting at Alide at 3pm at Friday when the electricity went out. The A/C stopped its whir, the computers had to be turned off to save battery. The water had already been off for 2 days.
We wandered outside. For the rest of the day, the young people of Alide talked in Fon, French, and faltering English. I showed them my photos, they made fun of me, they switched back to Fon to gossip to...Continue Reading >>
Most people reading this blog already agree that microfinance is a promising way to help people work their way out of poverty in a dignified manner. I agree, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here in Togo. It is heartwarming, and we should be inspired by it. But we should also be critical of it, to keep ourselves honest and to make sure it’s really having the effect we hope it is. In this post I will outline one of the biggest challenges facing the world of microfinance – becoming sustainable despite high administrative costs – and how Kiva and the Kiva Fellows contribute...Continue Reading >>
The noon-day heat of equatorial sun beat down on tin roofs and dirt roads. It was quiet, the sounds a little muffled outside the paint shop of Rwandese Kiva client Marie Chantal Mukasafali.
“The business is good here,” she says, “thank goodness...Continue Reading >>
Yes, as I am leaving. Julie Ross, the next Kiva Fellow to be placed in Rwanda, will take over with better and I’m sure more consistent postings here. But in the meantime, a quick note on some of the staff here at VFC, whom you will soon meet in more detail:
...Continue Reading >>
What originally started as a college senior’s feeble attempt to plan his future has finally become a reality: I am now in Sudan. After a 21-hour flight from Los Angeles to Uganda, three days of waiting in Uganda to get a Sudanese visa, and a one hour (scary) flight from Entebbe to Juba, I finally made it into the country that I will be calling “home” for the next several months.... Continue Reading >>
This is my first post from the field, and, unfortunately, I’m not writing to share an inspiring microfinance success story or even a heartwarming cross-cultural anecdote, as I was hoping I would be. I am writing to tell about a conversation that threw an uncomfortably bright spotlight directly on the basis of my being here in Africa, and the basis of Kiva’s mission itself.
I am stationed in Togo, a tiny West African country that ranks the 13th poorest in the world, with a GDP per capita in 2007 of $167. I am living with a Togolese family, and there is a 26-year old guy...