Mar 1, 2009 NI Nicaragua

You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you receive the following message from the U.S. Embassy with respect to recent political protests:

“…the Embassy reminds American citizens that even political rallies intended to be peaceful can possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to exercise caution [when in public]…”

As I write this, there are celebratory fireworks (which sound more like bombs) going off in the sky over the city center. Each cacophonous boom jars me into thinking deeply about the reality of this land I currently call ‘home...

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Feb 28, 2009 TJ Tajikistan

* image used for illustration purposes only; it is not an actual sign used by our MFI *

The end of the month is always a hectic period at my micro-finance institution. It’s considered to be a critical time to collect the late loan repayments, in order to reduce the amount of risk in the portfolio when the new month rolls around.

There are a number of meetings that take place among the loan officers and the management where the problem clients and groups – those...

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Feb 26, 2009 KH Cambodia

Hi Fellows Blog readers,

My name is Jeff Zira, and I’m a Kiva Fellow (round 7) in Cambodia. I’ll be working with the MFI CREDIT in the capital city, Phnom Penh, for about four months. I’m very excited to start my fellowship here, and am looking forward to meeting clients so I can directly learn how microfinance affects them.

On Friday, I arrived at the tiny, one-lane-runway airport, where three officers from CREDIT were waiting to pick me up. The heat was intense, with the humid sunshine beating down on the dusty roads near the airport. I was taken to my guesthouse to drop my...

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Feb 26, 2009 BO Bolivia

I arrived in Bolivia on Sunday to the happy sounds and bright colors of Carnaval. The whole country was busy with their week long celebrations before lent. This Christian country incorporates many indigenous beliefs. Nearly all the entradas, or parades, that made getting from the airport to my apartment really difficult, are to honor some deity related to the earth, the sky, hell or food. Many offerings are made throughout the drunken mayhem. Water balloons and super soaker 5000s arm every child on every corner. The streets were filled for days with the sounds of fire crackers, screaming...

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Feb 26, 2009

I had a wonderful time in Haiti, despite the major challenges the country faces. The people, culture, music, art, food and colors kept me fascinated the short time I was there. Kiva will soon be working in Haiti with the amazing help of Esperanza/Hope International! I was given the opportunity to see micro finance in action, and I was impressed.

We visited two communities that have received Esperanza micro loans. It was interesting to see how each entrepreneur had such a niche market. For example, one gentleman we talked to bought phone cards and then resold them at...
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Feb 25, 2009 UG Uganda

After years of international travel riddled with complications, I think that I have just experienced my most dramatic journey yet. About two weeks ago, I left Boston to travel to work with Pearl Microfinance in Kampala, Uganda. I had planned to land in Nairobi on Tuesday and then spend three days in Nairobi before traveling to Kampala Friday evening.

All went as planned. As I have lived in Nairobi before, my time there was spent visiting old friends and meeting all the new babies! Despite my happy time in Nairobi, as I headed to the airport Friday evening I was thrilled to...

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Feb 24, 2009 SN Senegal

My name is Liz O’Donnell and I’m one of the new Kiva Fellows.  I’m currently working with Caurie Microfinance based in Thiès, Senegal, about an hour and a half east of Dakar (which unlike Bamenda, Cameroon, is really easy to get to from the US – a seven hour nonstop flight from your choice of New York, DC, or Atlanta).

I arrived in Senegal recently and while I have yet to go out into the field to meet Caurie clients, I wanted to share with you a video that I found helpful while trying to understand microfinance in Senegal, and the daily life of the borrowers here.  The video...

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Feb 24, 2009 CM Cameroon

A warm welcome to the Kiva Fellows Blog! I would like to introduce myself to you, my name is Ashley King-Bischof. As one of the last KF7 Fellows to arrive in the field, I make my way to Bamenda, Cameroon with much anticipation and excitement. My travels to Cameroon started in the San Francisco Bay Area and will last more than a couple of days before arriving to my final destination. The first part of my trek was across North America to New York City, where I am now. From there I have a longer red-eye to London, a quick jet over to Zurich and then another flight to Douala, Cameroon. As a...

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Feb 23, 2009 ID Indonesia

The morning commute to the DINARI office on my motorbike no longer takes 30 minutes since I found all the shortcuts (by getting thoroughly lost) so I hesitantly say that I’ve “hit my stride” here in Bali.  Nothing wakes you up like an exhilarating bike ride at 7:30 am, dodging erratic drivers, enormous potholes, stray dogs, pedestrians in the middle of the road, and excessively crowded streets.

Last Sunday I loaded up my bike, said farewell to my two roommates from Jakarta and started the 2-3 hour drive, solo, to the DINARI office in Melaya, a small city in west...

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Feb 23, 2009 GT Guatemala

Many of my friends and family have been shocked, when I explained to them that microcredit loans often carry (what we would consider) usurious/oppressive interest rates. Many of them have asked me how ANYONE could justify interest rates of 30 or 50 or even 100%?

I have tried to explain all the factors that go into how a microfinance bank determines just how much interest it must charge in order to remain a viable business.

I go through the litany of factors contributing to the “high” interest rates—-the fact that it costs as much (or more) to make a $300 loan as it does...

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