May 19, 2009 VN Vietnam

Microfinance, while not the cure-all tool for development, is a very powerful tool for poverty reduction in the developing world. We’ve all heard the effect it has on poverty as portrayed in numerous academic studies and from sources like Muhammad Yunus. Because of my infatuation with microfinance I started wondering what other impact microfinance has had on development issues such as inequality. After a quick search on UC Berkeley’s academic journal search tool I only found one (one?!!) article which even mentioned inequality. This was evidence to me that microfinance is still in its...

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May 18, 2009 KH Cambodia

CREDIT Microfinance Institution, Kiva’s oldest partner in Southeast Asia, and 7th oldest in its portfolio of partners celebrated its third year on Kiva May 3rd, 2009. As one of Kiva’s oldest partners, they have received over $3.1m in loans, making it the most invested MFI in Kiva’s portfolio of MFIs. Through the generosity of over 48,500 Kiva lenders, over 4150 of CREDIT’s clients have received loans ranging from $100 to $1200 helping them run businesses, fix homes, educate their children, supply daily needs, and ultimately enabling them to build a higher standard of living for themselves...

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May 17, 2009 PE Peru

As a Kiva Fellow, one of my main duties is to bring you stories about entrepreneurs using microcredit to improve their lives. A few weeks ago, I met a remarkable entrepreneur called Neni. Neni is almost 28, she is married and has a 7 year-old daughter. When I arrived at her home, she kindly invited me to sit in her tiny kitchen and treated me to fried plantains and a portion of jell-o.

Neni started selling food when she was 20 years-old, after finding out she was pregnant. One day, she heard about Manuela Ramos/CrediMujer and she thought she could benefit from the small loans...

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May 15, 2009 NI Nicaragua

by Ashley Nelsen

Do you think you could you start a thriving general store from a single 25 pound sack of sugar?  Gloria María Ramírez Herrera did and recently told me how. Unwilling to sign her house as collateral for a traditional bank loan, she knew she would have to start her business on her own, and start small. Gloria saved up little by little and purchased a single 25 pound sack of sugar and began selling it out of the front window of her house. That’s where the MFI Asociación Alternativa Para el Desarrollo Integral de las Mujeres (ADIM) stepped in to assist. Gloria used her...

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May 14, 2009 KE Kenya

What I’m writing to tell you about is M-PESA! Usually it doesn’t have an exclamation point after it, but I put one there because every time I think about it, I get very excited. M-PESA!

Long story short, M stands for mobile and Pesa is Kiswahili for money. It’s a service that Safaricom, the most popular cell phone service in Kenya, offers (Zain, its largest competitor offers a similar service). Touted as a “branchless banking service”  M-PESA users can deposit and withdraw money on their phone by utilizing a network of agents stationed throughout the country – mostly...

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May 13, 2009 PH Philippines

What do you get when you cross a woman named Matilde Tamon and an organization like Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI)? A love song.

Matilde, who is a spry 75 years of age, has been a member of ASHI for 13 years. She loves to sing, and also loves what ASHI has done for her and the women in her community. Faced with this fortunate predicament, she did what any Filipino would do: she sang about it.

Some years ago Matilde composed a song of gratitude for ASHI, one which she usually delivers a capella. ASHI, a Grameen-style, non-profit microcredit institution that provides financial...

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May 12, 2009 CM Cameroon

Fellow fellow Ashley and I had the honor of celebrating International Women’s Day with GHAPE borrowers on Sunday, March 8th, 2009.  It was quite the event: women dressed in kabas, which are the traditional Cameroonian dresses with various patterns and colors, and marched down the main street in Bamenda.  Women and men showed up in masses to the parade and many continued the party by drinking and eating with friends.

On a personal note, Women’s Day was one of my favorite memories of Cameroon.  There were tons of women out at the restaurants and bars enjoying themselves...

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May 8, 2009 ID Indonesia

On my previous blog post, 77 is never too old to start a business, Jan commented that she would like to see the result of our TLM Kiva T-shirt Bonanza which took place last week (she heard about it by following TLM on Twitter, to do the same go here).

Fortunately, this also gave me the perfect excuse to express my thanks to Jan and John for their unwavering support of Kiva and the Fellows programme. For those of you who don’t know of them, Jan and John are professional grandparents from Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. In between their time grandparenting, lending on Kiva,...

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May 6, 2009 LB Lebanon

When any of us wants to borrow money from the bank, whether it is for a new car or a home, or even to start a business, we expect complete confidentiality from our bank. It’s a private matter between us and the bank staff.

Yet, when Kiva borrowers need a loan, we expect them to agree to have their information posted on the internet for all to see, along with a picture and sometimes even a video. Are we unnecessarily invading their privacy?

Clearly borrowers are not being forced. They have a choice. Indeed, I am told by the loan officers here at Ameen that some people often do...

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May 6, 2009 BO Bolivia

Last week was my last week as a Kiva Fellow. As I sat in the cold air of the bar Emprender took me to celebrate the end of my time with their offices and the national Dia del Trabajador (or workers day), I realized how far I have come. And how hard it would be to sum up the personal aspect of being a Kiva Fellow. And equally hard to sum up what microfinance looks like to me.

Here is an effort to show what I mean. Take a look at an album I made of my favorite entrepreneur photos from my placement in Honduras and in Bolivia.

I had just spent a solid hour learning the lilted,...

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