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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Feb 22, 2009 ML Mali

By Jessica Chervin, KF7 Mali

Save for the high beams of the Land Cruiser and a few fluorescent lamps, I couldn’t see much as we drove off the paved road and onto a bumpy street, nestled deep within the quartier Cité UNICEF, a relatively poor neighborhood of Bamako (the capital of Mali) and my home base for the next few months. Then, from the darkness and dust, it rose: a glistening yellow building that, against the local backdrop, appeared rather like Oz…

I am Jessica Chervin, age 24, from New York, New York, and a proud member of the seventh class of Kiva Fellows...

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Feb 20, 2009 TJ Tajikistan

One of the reasons why so many people around the world are not eligible for traditional credit and financial services is because they don’t have any collateral to offer to the lender. However, ironically, collateral alone is often not enough anyway. If you look at traditional borrowers in the U.S., who take out mortgages while putting their house down as a collateral or other loans, the default rates are still quite high (even before the crisis).

So is physical collateral a necessity? Or can credit be given without it?

About 2 Percent

One of the...

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Feb 20, 2009 RW Rwanda

The word “profit” does not translate easily into foreign languages. I’ve now tried to convey the idea both in Swahili and in Kinyarwanda and I often come up with nothing more than blank stares or long pauses. The difficulty lies in what “profit” includes (or doesn’t). A client may answer my question as to what their monthly profit is with a confident declaration of “30,000 Francs”, but when I ask what she uses the profit for, she answers that she pays the rent and pays off her loan. If that is the case, then her profit is not in fact 30,000 Francs but rather is 30,000 Francs minus rent...

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Feb 18, 2009 UG Uganda

For the alleviation of poverty in Uganda, Microfinance Institutions are in the pilot seat by providing micro loans to the poor. The areas of operation depend on an Institution’s Vision and Mission, and like at Pearl Microfinance, financial services are provided to the economically active population of Uganda sustainably.

MFIs’ operations can not go on without the recognition of credit officers, a position that requires a lot of dedication, hard work and trust. The credit staff should have good people skills for if not, institutions would lack who to lend the money to or worse still...

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Feb 17, 2009 UG Uganda

I’ve been in Uganda for a week and a half now, working for a local MFI here called PEARL microfinance. During this time I’ve seen more action than I would have seen in 3 months back home. I’ve gone on a death defying motorcycle ride during a thunderstorm deep in the jungle, skidding through mud in 45deg declines and inclines (literally). I’ve witnessed the breathtaking beauty of the countrysides of Uganda — scenery that takes the cake from any other that I’ve seen in my 25 years, including Yosemite. I’ve gone on exciting adventures in the city with dozens of expatriates here similarly...

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Feb 13, 2009 VN Vietnam

My name is Nathan and I would like to introduce myself to the Kiva community as one of the members of KF7. I am stationed in Hanoi, Vietnam with the local MFI SEDA. I am extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity and strongly urge anyone who is considering applying as a Kiva Fellow to do so immediately!

A typical Hanoian street scene.

The well-known idiom ‘don’t judge a book by its cover...

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Feb 13, 2009 VN Vietnam

My name is Nathan and I would like to introduce myself to the Kiva community as one of the members of KF7. I am stationed in Hanoi, Vietnam with the local MFI SEDA. I am extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity and strongly urge anyone who is considering applying as a Kiva Fellow to do so immediately!

A typical Hanoian street scene.

The well-known idiom ‘don’t judge a book by its cover...

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Feb 13, 2009 VN Vietnam

You will not find much about it in the Lonely Planet but Thanh Hóa, Vietnam, is where I will be spending the next few months as a Kiva Fellow.  Its dirt roads, paper-based systems and road-side street kitchens are a far cry from the corporate culture that I am familiar with, but I am excited to see what the next few months will hold.

Thanh Hóa is the fourth largest (by area) and second poorest province in Vietnam, with over 30% of the households considered poor. Kiva’s field partner here, the Fund for Thanh...

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Feb 12, 2009 KH Cambodia

After months of preparations and planning I am finally on my way. As I write this the map on the TV screen tells me I am currently over Pueblo, Colorado on the first leg of a three part trip from New York, USA to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I will be in Phnom Penh for five months as a Kiva Fellow and will be working with Kiva’s partner agency HKL.

While I am very excited to listen and learn from both the staff members at my host MFI, HKL and the borrowers they serve I have a certain amount of trepidation concerning the affect the global recession will have on the local economy....

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