The biggest holiday in Azerbaijan is Novruz. This spring event has its roots as a pre-Islam New Year celebration. It officially begins on the spring equinox but the celebration ramps up much earlier with large street bonfires every Tuesday for the month preceding Novruz. Each week represents a different element: earth, water, air, and fire. Much of the community comes out for the bonfires to socialize and listen to music. Tradition calls for fearless youth to jump across the bonfire regardless or how large it is. On one occasion I witnessed a boy run through a fire along a burning pole...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Azerbaijan
On Sunday, I had the privilege of spending time with an Azeri woman over lunch and walking around Baku. For the record, I am female. I met Ulviyya on a bus a few days ago when I saw her reading English vocabulary from a dictionary that was falling apart to pieces and started talking to her. We parted shortly after but before doing so, Ulviyya jumped on the opportunity to practice her spoken English. She took down my mobile number and invited me to lunch on Sunday.... Continue Reading >>
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...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...Continue Reading >>
OK, I’m not really lost, but I have been traveling like crazy the past two or so weeks and have not been able to keep up with journals or blogs! I apologize for the length of this, but I’ll try to recap:
14 – 16 July: I jumped on a mashrutka (a fancy name for a really old, unsafe, run-down mini-bus) and headed two hours north of Baku to NorMicro’s branch office in Khachmaz. I spent Saturday hanging out with Azerbaijani friends I have made on previous visits to Khachmaz this summer. On Sunday I...Continue Reading >>
Yesterday in Baku, sixteen Azerbaijanis from seven MFIs filled a small conference room for a class on writing business descriptions and success stories. They were craving training, not only on these critical elements of promoting their organizations, but also on writing in the English language. Among the attendees, employees from Kiva’s three Azerbaijani field partners were present: Murad and Jeyhun from NorMicro, Ulviyya from Komak, and Tamilla from AqroInvest.
The class was organized by...Continue Reading >>
Walking with a NorMicro loan officer through a small town bazaar in Azerbaijan is like walking with a pop star through a suburban American shopping mall. In Devechi, Nafira was mobbed by dozens of prospective clients as she led me through the crowded market stalls in search of Kiva clients. As he helped translate my interviews in Agsu, Namik often had to field questions from clients about the likelihood of their friend or neighbor getting a loan. The weekly “reception day” in each NorMicro branch...Continue Reading >>
Yesterday was a rather typical day for me in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. I left my host family’s nice home and walked fifteen minutes to the nearest metro station. On the way to the metro station I passed new apartment buildings, food shops with locally-grown fruit displays, clothing stores with bright skirts hanging in the windows, street cats lolling in the sun, bored taxi drivers playing backgammon, and street vendors selling cell phone cards. I weaved through and dodged traffic when...Continue Reading >>
Hi, I’m Liz Vallette and I’m from Houston, Texas. I just arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan last Friday to work as a Kiva Fellow with Normicro. Normicro has 5 branches throughout Azerbaijan that serve internally displaced (IDPs) and low-income persons. I was lucky to show up right as the branches are having their annual General Assemblies.
Normicro has a unique structure that allows the customers to have a role in the...Continue Reading >>