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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>

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...

Continue Reading >>