Mar 13, 2009 TJ Tajikistan

Some of the borrowers I have met in the field

As I was visiting the MFI clients in the field, the borrower would often proudly annnounce that he or she was on their 5th loan… or their 7th loan… or even on the 9th one. Although this does show an impressive credit history, something about it was bothering me.

Before coming here, I had a few assumptions about what a business loan is...

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Mar 13, 2009 SN Senegal

Today was my first day of work at IMCEC, a Senegalese MFI based in Dakar. I’m working out of their offices in Thies, a smaller, hotter, dustier, and boringer city about an hour and a half from Dakar. IMCEC currently manages the Kiva partnership in a very decentralized way, and is having a lot of trouble meeting their $80,000 a month fundraising limit – in January they only posted $7,500-worth of loans on the Kiva site. What a waste of free capital!

Happily, they just hired a woman to manage the Kiva process. It’ll be my job to train her and...

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Mar 12, 2009 GT Guatemala

Those of us who know and love the Kiva platform probably find ourselves giving the “what is Kiva” elevator pitch fairly often. “Kiva is an online platform…” or “Kiva is a microlending social community…” or whatever your go-to line may be. And we’ve most likely all seen eyes glaze over and watched our audience find a sudden fascination with their feet. But every once in a while you can tell that you’ve hooked them: “So I would get my money back?” “I can really lend $25?” And my favorite moment of those conversations: “What is the default rate?”

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Mar 11, 2009 ID Indonesia

DINARI, the microfinance institution I am working at in Indonesia, prides itself on sponsoring innovative projects and spearheading new initiatives. For example, they are currently working on a joint-venture with Habitat for Humanity building houses for low income people in west Bali. The most recent project DINARI has undertaken is a joint-venture with KGCB Radio, a station based in Denpasar, to develop DINARI’s own radio station. The radio station has yet to officially launch to the public but they are currently building programs and should be “on air” by early April.

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Mar 9, 2009 UG Uganda

Last week I had my first trip to the field. I traveled with Grace, the Kiva Coordinator here at Pearl Microfinance, to two branches in western Uganda, Lugazi and Jinja. Lugazi is about 2 hours away from the office and Jinja is about 40 minutes down the road and across the Nile from Lugazi.

The area between Kampala and these two areas looks shockingly like New England. Having spent many of my summers driving through the wooded areas of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, I found myself drifting back to blueberry pancakes for breakfast as I sat sweating from the heat and close...

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Mar 6, 2009 NI Nicaragua

I sat down to write this post at least five times. I want to tell people a little about Bluefields, Nicaragua and the challenges that exist here, but that’s not easy to do. Bluefields is unlike any place I’ve ever been, and I’ve travelled and lived abroad quite a bit. At one point, I thought I’d try to find some statistics to paint a picture of the poverty here. At another point, I just started rambling about specific things that I’ve seen and experienced. Then I thought, maybe pictures are the way to go. None of these approaches...

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Mar 6, 2009 BO Bolivia

Some days as a Kiva Fellow totally rock. Its like, “snap, snap, snap!” You are in the groove, making good decisions, few cultural errors, you are visiting clients, streamlining internal processes, inspiring the staff of Kiva’s partners, making connections and generally rocking out. Here is a quick video I made of a day during which I visited clients.

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Some days…ie, today, are not so snappy. I got to one of Emprender’s field offices...

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Mar 6, 2009 VN Vietnam

I’m already four weeks into my fellowship and as I anticipated, it’s been full of surprises!

A consultant by training, I’m in my element when I’m in an office, laptop in hand and armed with my shortcut keys. This is why I jumped at the chance to conduct my first Kiva training session. We pulled together a Power Point presentation, drafted and translated ‘cheat sheets’ and were ready to go. …or so we thought… Talk about an emotional journey!

The day started well with,

Enthusiasm: Granted, I was probably...

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Mar 5, 2009 KH Cambodia

One testament to the power of the Fellow’s network, as described in Julie Ross’s excellent post The Importance Of My Fellow Fellows, is the existence of these two videos below. No sooner had Abby Gray (KF6) suggested via a mass email that it would be useful to have A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story Of A Kiva Loan in French so that she can show it to her MFI in Francophone Africa, than offers to translate/edit poured in from around the fellosphere. “Spanish would be great too” lead to a similar rumbling from the Latin American contingent.

Within three days I had...

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Mar 5, 2009 KE Kenya

Not every day as a Kiva Fellow is a good one. There are days when I wait for seven hours for a credit officer to be available to take me to the field to collect journal updates for only two clients. There are hours of intermittent internet in which I am able to load less than one page. There are the clients I meet about whom I would be inspired except that after doing the math I’m not convinced they’ve found a way to run their businesses with a net profit. Luckily, after more than 7 months of victories and setbacks, I think I’m in the black.

Small moments compensate for...

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