Aug 30, 2008 MX Mexico

I promised a long time ago to write about housing in Nuevo Laredo.

So I will exercise self-control and delay the gratification of writing about my recent outing to a lucha libre pro wrestling extravaganza. I will write instead about how housing gets built here in Nuevo Laredo – more of a sweaty struggle than the lucha libre on any day – and why housing microfinance is important in this process.

Visiting Kiva borrowers and writing journals represents a big part of my work for Kiva at my partner organization, FVP (Fundación para la Vivienda Progresiva, or...

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Aug 28, 2008 CM Cameroon

Squeezing people into taxis is par for the course in Cameroon. As cabs approach, you shout your destination to the driver and if you get the nod you hop in. If there are already three in the back, no matter, there’s room for one more. If there are two in the front, again, no problem: a third person can fit in – roughly positioned astraddle the gear stick (US English: stick shift).

Leaving Bamenda to make the journey to the small town of Belo, I felt a certain smugness at having bagged the front seat of the taxi. A...

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Aug 28, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Dar es Salaam. The city is an assault on the senses. Flying into Nyerere International airport, my first glimpse of Tanzania, and indeed of Africa, is incredibly beautiful – mile upon mile of azure ocean clings alluringly to a sandy coastline, clusters of coconut trees spring up from between houses with maroon and blue roofs, and an incredible profusion of blood red hibiscus infuse the entire landscape with color and vibrancy. Quite simply, it is breathtaking. Little wonder then that the city’s name translates into ‘abode of peace’ in Arabic, named so by Arab...

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Aug 26, 2008 KH Cambodia

In Cambodia, AMK has the lowest average loan balance per borrower. According to MIXMarket, AMK’s average balance at the end of 2007 was $86 per borrower. To put that in perspective the second lowest was AMRET at $164, which is nearly 90% higher. HKL, Credit MFI, and Maxima (the other three Cambodian MFIs working with Kiva) have an average loan balance of $603, $564, and $514 respectively. Currently, 93.4% of AMK’s loans are below $300 and their average loan balance is now $114. AMK chooses to keep their average loan balance low. They limit individual loans to $500 and they...

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Aug 22, 2008 CM Cameroon

Well, maybe I’m not the first to discover that microfinance existed in Cameroon before the Grameen bank was founded in India or before Mohammed Yunnus got the Nobel Prize, but I felt like I had when I stumbled upon Njangi while talking to some friends over the weekend. The young people who I’ve met in Cameroon are all very intelligent and informed. The standard of education is excellent and radio commercials advertising excellent classroom facilities for young children frequent the radio. Conversation amongst the teens most often centers on grades from the last semester and I’ve yet to...

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Aug 21, 2008 CM Cameroon

I am sitting in the modest headquarters of GHAPE in Bamenda, north west Cameroon.

I am surrounded by the membership books of some of the organisation’s small borrowers, detailing their loan totals and bi-monthly repayments. There is no column for defaults. When the women (it is mostly women) meet to make their regular contributions they stay in the room until the right amount of money has been collected. If someone cannot make their payment then the others have to make up the difference. But they all know each other and it’s never good to...

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Aug 21, 2008 RW Rwanda

Mornings, always one rooster does not know the time of day.  As is customary in the neighborhood, most chickens start calling between five and six – but renegade number one is early.  4:30, last time I checked.

 

To be sure, were it not for the roosters I am guaranteed to wake soon after.  Shortly after six the children start to make pattering noises outside my door, as they run out to wash and brush and use the outhouse, and to heat the water kettle for the plastic...

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Aug 20, 2008 TZ Tanzania

When I first began working in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill, my initial impression was horror that the country was being run by a bunch of 20-somethings.  At 23, I was solidly within the median age range and even felt old when I saw peers walking around with short skirts, finding myself thinking “how inappropriate!”  It didn’t take me long to become accustomed to the age range of Hill staffers and soon it even made sense to me that they’d all be so young.  The hours were grueling, the work was exhausting, and without energy, enthusiasm, and a youth-like belief in...

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Aug 17, 2008 NP Nepal

A few of P-BPW’s borrowers.

A regular borrower’s group meeting.

Borrowers making payments with loan officer.

 

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Aug 17, 2008 NP Nepal

Field visits are by far the best part about being a Kiva Fellow.  You’re given the opportunity to hop on a motorbike, hike up a village trail, and actually see the impact of a Kiva loan firsthand.  

While this is indeed an incredible experience, after a few weeks of checking in on chicken farmers and vegetable vendors, you begin to think you’ve seen the extent of microfinance’s impact: a few new chickens or vegetables, a small increase in profit margins, etc.  

But then you meet someone like Ms. Rita…

Ms. Rita Bashnet lives in the...

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