Apr 27, 2009 US United States

U.S. Microfinance 101

I hear the phrase U.S. microfinance and I perk up- I’m not alone. Last week I was at a microfinance 101 meeting in New York City. The event was catered to a group of young professionals that were interested in getting involved, somehow, in U.S. microfinance. Someone asked a question about repayment systems for U.S. microloans, wondering if borrowers come into the office to make repayments or do the loan officers go “into the field” to collect? The end goal with domestic microfinance is the same as it is internationally; empower individuals to create prosperity...

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Apr 23, 2009 GT Guatemala

Today is my last day as a Kiva Fellow working in Guatemala City. I will admit that in recent weeks my mind has been wandering to the luxuries of home: ethnic food, safe and timely public transportation, dishwashers, smog laws, etc… But as always, when leaving a new “home”, I know that I will miss the experiences and friendships that I have been lucky enough to experience while here.

As one of my fellow Kiva Fellows pointed out in an earlier post, we fellows tend to receive credit for the support that all of you lenders are really giving. I wish I could offer you one of the glasses...

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Apr 23, 2009 KH Cambodia

Rice plants nearly ready for harvest

Sophisticated income statements and balance sheets are the standard tools used by global corporates to demonstrate their year-over-year growth and net change in assets and liabilities. I saw my fair share of SEC sanctioned 10K annual and 10Q quarterly financial reports while working in corporate banking in New York City, but from where I stand now as a Kiva Fellow in my third month in the field, these accounting instruments are of no use to...

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Apr 22, 2009 CM Cameroon

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As a Kiva fellow, one of my jobs is to attend the various centers during their bimonthly meetings.  At the meetings, I have found a routine: watch the groups gather and prepare their money to turn in, sing the GHAPE anthem, discuss upcoming events, and then while the loan officer works out money logistics, I interview Kiva borrowers.  As you can see from the video, the other day was slightly different.

After the meeting, all the members and staff stayed in the...

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Apr 21, 2009 PE Peru

After almost two months living in Puno, Peru and after a few embarrassing moments when tourists I encountered asked me for advice about visiting Lake Titicaca and I had to sheepishly admit that I hadn’t yet embarked, I decided it was time to make the trip. In my defense, I had been waiting for the rainy season to pass and for someone to go with. Luckily, last weekend both my prerequisites were met.

Through a Kiva connection, I met a fellow microfinance worker, Zoe, who was conducting surveys on microfinance interest rates in Puno. In the good and admittedly much needed company of...

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Apr 21, 2009 KE Kenya

I am living in Kisumu, Kenya. Here is a picture of the street where I volunteer, in the Nyalenda slum.

Walking around the slum, one quickly comes across evidence of the post election violence.  Burned buildings are common.  As are random herds of goats.

White people in Kisumu are usually in self-contained SUVs.  Not too many ever enter the Nyalenda slum.  As a result, as I walk, I am usually chased by children.

If I stay in one place for too long, they gather to stare.

In the slum, you find many teenage girls.  Their stories show...

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Apr 21, 2009 LB Lebanon

The other day, I walked around Saida‘s old town in southern Lebanon and just soaked in the mood of the place. The old town is far removed from the modern part of the city where cars dominate. Here, people go about their business in the narrow streets and interact in a far more intimate space. Tourists are just beginning to discover the place, though they rarely go much deeper than the soap museum on its outskirts.

A number of NGOs have been involved in this part of town for years, where the level of poverty tends to be quite a bit higher than the national level. Also, the...

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Apr 20, 2009

I have always wanted to write something about our transport system and the huddles involved for one to get to work early and let it be printed in the papers but again part of my mind said why not for us here! Eeh before I forget, taxi are the matatus we use here in Uganda, while ‘Maaso awo’ means find the next stage for me to get off.

As a Kiva Coordinator, Pearl Microfinance, the work I do involves a lot of movements with so many hardships, but if all this is to be added on to the messy taxis, traffic jams and the rude taxi operators especially the conductors, then my day will be...

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Apr 17, 2009 NI Nicaragua

Perhaps it depends on the context.

Now having served as a Kiva Fellow at three of Kiva’s partner microfinance institutions (MFI) in three distinct locations, I have seen a wide variety in the types of businesses Kiva lenders are funding.  I have also seen many, many situations where one client has several businesses.  In a recent blog post, Stephanie Koczela, a Kiva Fellow in Uganda, very articulately explained how and why microfinance clients often have a variety of businesses.  As she describes, not only is this the reality, it actually makes a lot of sense and helps these clients...

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Apr 17, 2009 BO Bolivia

Emprender has two offices in Cochabamba and three in Santa Cruz. Both these cities have a distinct character, and reputation that precedes them. The Cochabambinos, or “ “Bambinos” (best nick name ever right?) are known for their gigantic plates of food. Everyone tells me that I would eat a lot in Cochabamba, and that I would find the climate perfect. In Santa Cruz, I would find people of a totally different culture. The kind that whistle at the women in the street, take off dancing at a moment’s notice, men with mojo and women with hot blood. All...

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