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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May 5, 2009 UG Uganda

At the beginning of April, Grace and I began an effort to decentralize the Kiva process at Pearl. This is the formal way of saying that we planned to visit the branches and carry out a training program that would make the Kiva process such that we would no longer be required to rip our skirts, miss spending time with our families and friends and spend 4-8 hours per day bumping along the roads of Uganda in taxis (the minibuses that Grace wrote about in a previous post).

One of...

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May 4, 2009 ID Indonesia

by Kieran Ball, KF6 & 7

“Poor people are like bonsai trees”, analogises Professor Mohammad Yunus, “Even choosing the best seed of the tallest tree, if you plant it in a small flower pot it cannot grow big. Society is the flower pot, the system we have built that keeps poor people from growing. The seed of the person is as good as the tallest tree, but we must change the system to let each person grow to their potential.”

Whilst Professor Yunus failed to mention that bonsai trees look totally hip on most coffee tables, this is still my all...

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May 2, 2009 DO Dominican Republic

-More than micro finance

by Ashley Nelsen KF 6 & 7

The power of micro finance is the social programs that leave lasting improvements within entrepreneurs lives. While working in the Dominican Republic with the MFI Esperanza I witnessed first hand the impact of such social programs. Esperanza whose social programs include business training for their entrepreneurs, a savings program, affordable health care and insurance, vocational trainings, and loans for housing improvements ensure that their clients not only improve their economic livelihood, but are better educated,...

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May 2, 2009 CM Cameroon

GHAPE – Grounded and Holistic Approach for People’s Empowerment, has three branches in Cameroon. Each branch is located in the North West Region: the capital city, Bamenda, houses GHAPE headquarters. Traveling from branch to branch, center to center, one can see the differences in landscape in Cameroon. Bamenda, a bustling city with lots of commerce is the central location for GHAPE. In Momo and Belo, the farmers reign in their small-town atmospheres.

Momo is a small, small town, equipped with a motor park for those who look to sell their produce outside the city. Home...

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May 1, 2009 CR Costa Rica

I’ve just arrived at my fourth and final placement as a Kiva Fellow.  Less than two weeks ago I was wrapping up work with ADEPHCA in Nicaragua and, following a week of whirlwind travel through southwestern Nicaragua, I arrived to start my first week with EDESA in Costa Rica.  Based on initial impressions, ADEPHCA and EDESA have very little in common other than the fact they are both identified by somewhat confusing acronyms and are both quite small organizations in the world of microfinance.  But that is where the similarities end.  ADEPHCA is based out of Bluefields, Nicaragua: a town of...

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Apr 30, 2009 PY Paraguay

There exists a daily beverage that is more omnipresent and culturally dominant than Seattle’s most famous export.  It’s a tea known as tereré and (hooray for American marketing) Paraguayans literally do not leave home without it.

Tereré is a loose-leaf tea that is always served cold.  It involves no foams, whips, or syrups, and there’s definitely no decaf.  Just mate tea, ice water, and, if you like, a mix of mint and lemongrass.  As simple as it may sound, bringing these ingredients together is much harder than saying “grande coffee, no room” to the...

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Apr 29, 2009 PE Peru

As if volleyball and soccer were not challenging enough, imagine playing these sports in long skirts, dress shoes and traditional hats that barely stay on your head in the slightest wind. I have been to and played in sports tournaments my entire life, but until last week I had never experienced a tournament like this!

As a Kiva Fellow working with the Microfinance Institution (MFI), Manuela Ramos, I have the privilege of attending not only community bank meetings, where groups of women come together to take out small loans, but also community events that are meant to empower women...

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