In the past few months, the Indian microfinance industry has learned that not all publicity is good publicity. A few Kiva Fellows wanted to learn what the issues were, and what can be done to prevent them in the future. We will present our findings in a series of blog postings over the coming days. Given the inherent complexities, the multiple viewpoints and an ever changing political and legal landscape, our work is only intended to provide a top-level summary of the situation as it stands now. If you are interested in learning more about...
Stories from Ghana
By Mei-ing Cheok, KF14, Ghana
When I first arrived in Accra, Ghana about a week ago for my Kiva Fellowship, I had to find my way to Cape Coast, where my microfinance institute, Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN), is located. These were the instructions I got from Jacqueline, another Kiva Fellow, whom I was replacing at CRAN:
Before I came to Ghana and during my first month here, a lot of questions about microfinance had been going through my mind.
One of the biggest questions and probably the main reason I chose to apply to become a Kiva Fellow was that I wanted to see for myself whether microfinance was able to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Making a difference is really important to me and the concept of microfinance almost seemed too good to be true- if it really works, then surely this can be the biggest key to reducing widespread poverty?
Whenever I choose a not...Continue Reading >>
by Jacqueline Gunn- KF13, CRAN Ghana
Food forms the backbone of any growing society. Food sustains people. Many thousands of individuals create a living through food production, distribution and on a large scale, exportation. People communicate and build communities through food- joining together to prepare a meal before sitting down to enjoy it whilst talking and connecting.
This is especially so in Ghana- one of the most popular national dishes, fufu, actually requires two people to prepare it- one person turning the dough in a wooden bowl whilst the other pounds it...Continue Reading >>
When I embarked on my fellowship four months ago, I was excited but nervous. As with any new experience, the unknowns can be interesting, exhilarating, challenging and overwhelming all at the same time. With these feelings, I boarded my flight to Ghana. I had two simple objectives for my fellowship – help my MFI as much as I can and learn as much as I can. As my journal entry from my flight states, I wanted to learn about microfinance, Ghanaian culture, common characteristics that make us human, and myself. Though I’ve probably only scratched the surface on these lofty goals, I am...Continue Reading >>
by Jacqueline Gunn, KF13. Christian Rural Aid Network, Cape Coast- Ghana
One of the first things I noticed about living in Ghana is the ebb and flow of sound. It feels like Ghana is living by a constant rhythm which is created in every household, on every street and every road.
Where I live is pretty rural- a walk away from the nearest road and along a dirt track which constantly changes due to the weather. Even though we are a way away from town, we are never missing some kind of sound. The goats we live with constantly bleat, the insects provide a...Continue Reading >>
Obruni (Often yelled, “Ooobrruuuniii”). A word that meant nothing to me just three short months ago. Now, it is a word that induces feelings of happiness, anger, and indifference all at the same time. In Ghana, a foreigner is called obruni. Really, it is more of a greeting than anything. Admittedly, it took me a while to get used to being called obruni.
While my fellowship is providing me with a fantastic opportunity to learn about microfinance, this obruni example illustrates a part of my fellowship that I equally cherish – Living in a country very different than my own. This is...Continue Reading >>
In my time as a fellow, I expected to interview borrowers and hear lots of touching personal stories. I never expected to finally understand economics in a way textbooks never described it for me. Economics was not a course I chose to take. It was a mandatory credit I had to take. While I managed to memorize how supply and demand curves moved, for the life of me, I could not see the practical applications of economic theory. This was the case until a...Continue Reading >>
Like any business partnership, a partnership with Kiva brings both financial and non-financial benefits and costs to a Microfinance Institution (MFI). I believe that partnerships, whether personal or business, need partners’ values to align in order to succeed. So I will analyze this topic within the context of Kiva’s values – dignity, accountability, and transparency. The question I’d like to discuss is “What are the non-financial costs and benefits to an MFI in aligning with Kiva’s values of dignity, accountability, and transparency?” Since this blog represents my observations of one MFI...Continue Reading >>
Having finished my second week on the field, I’m starting to gain a greater appreciation for the connections that Kiva facilitates and the work that MFIs do. I’m learning what it takes to introduce a borrower in a remote village in Ghana to you, surfing the net in the comfort of your living room. And not surprisingly, the flow of information is not as easy as Google makes it out to be.
It all starts with that entrepreneurial...Continue Reading >>