Last month I had the chance to shadow a couple HKL credit officers at the Kampong Cham branch, an hour and a half northeast of Phnom Penh. Since my responsibilities here in Cambodia are mainly training and implementing the Kiva process rather than write journals, I was excited to get out and meet the people who make microfinance happen. I have nothing but the highest respect for Mr. Virak and Mr. Vo, who ride around the hot, dusty countryside four days a week helping prospective clients process loan applications. And they manage to look sharp while they’re at it, which is a challenge...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Cambodia
Inspired by the TZ fellows, I’ve come up with a top 10 for a taste of Cambodia:
1) The first questions people ask you are not “where are you from” or “what do you do” but “how old are you” and “are you married.”
2) Your clients bring you pictures of their sons and try to arrange marriages during your meetings.
3) A “taxi” transports 50+ people… and you don’t get a discount for sitting on the roof.
4) The Lexus SUV on the street has one person inside and the motorcycle beside it is transporting a family of 7… plus some groceries.
5) Drivers make their own...
This is why I love my office…
The other day at work, my colleagues found out I have a cell phone. They immediately took turns getting my digits- wanting my phone # ‘just because.’ Some who are hesitant to use English will call and hang up as a “just...Continue Reading >>
Just one epic of a post to depict a day in the field:
Only after experiencing the lows can you fully appreciate the highs. While everyday in the field is an incredible experience, some days are absolutely exhausting- mentally. The 8 hours in 90 degree sun dressed like I’m observing purdah is fine… off-roading on a moto… dodging trees and making u-turns in 6 “lanes” of traffic… breathing like I’m on a ventilator through my...Continue Reading >>
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Hattha Kaksekar’s annual General Assembly, held at Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s resort town. When general manager Mr. Tong invited me I initially thought it was going to just a board meeting with a day at the beach thrown in for fun. Turns out I was very wrong. HKL is a large MFI. Everyone in the organization was invited, from the top managers and directors to security guards and janitors. Over 280 people attended, descending on Sihanoukville from nine HKL branches all over Cambodia. I hitched a ride on the bus chartered...Continue Reading >>
In the United States, to have one’s credit card account put “on hold” would be grounds for getting slightly upset, peeved even. Fortunately, I am here in Cambodia, and when my dad emailed me to tell me that he received a letter from my credit card company saying that my account had been put on hold due to unusual activity, I did not flinch or get terribly nervous. One, this is because you really can’t use a credit card here unless you’re along the riverfront, the...Continue Reading >>
Today was my first day at my MFI, AMK. Paul, the CEO, is a wonderfully nice guy (the nicest ex-pat I’ve ever met here, in fact). He is from the southern suburbs of Chicago. The utter mention of the words south and Chicago in the same sentence immediately frightened me, as if a sudden and deep philosophical difference suddenly arose between us. Thankfully, and this must have been commanded from on high, he is nonetheless a Cubs fan (see Mark’s objective truth list, #2, “Baseball is the best sport in the world”). I will be his friend even if for this reason only (though I am...Continue Reading >>