May 20, 2008

Hopping off the short flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh I was struck immediately by two things; the heat, and the chaos. 10 am and the city was throbbing with people, dust, and the motorbikes that most people use to travel around the city. At first, the traffic was nothing short of frightening. It seemed the only rule of the road was that there are no rules. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw a learner driver on the road the day after I arrived- I thought – what are they learning? The answer is not much – a local lady explained to me that to pass a...

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May 20, 2008 UG Uganda

These past couple of weeks at MCDT, my primary task has been interviewing women who will be getting their first Kiva loan (though not their first loan) in order to write up the brief introduction posted on the Kiva website. Keep an eye out for them! They’re terrific people and a terrific organization and I’m excited to be helping them get these loans.

I’ve been hearing so many stories doing these interviews, as you can imagine, it’s hard to select any particular one to share. But there was one yesterday that got to me and I thought I’d pass it along.

Fred, the...

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May 17, 2008 CM Cameroon

I am proud to say that I have earned two blisters in the last week: one from hand-washing my clothes (I’ve now learned to really scrub ‘em), and another from pulling the kernels off corncobs. As a woman who has earned most previous blisters from breaking in new hiking boots or rowing crew, both luxury sports of a sort, this feels different.

Work in its many forms is so deeply ingrained in the culture in Bamenda that it takes shape in language. In pidgin, you would not believe how frequently the words “struggle” and “suffer” are used, usually not...

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May 14, 2008 UG Uganda

Warning:  The following story is not supposed to suggest that I think every African is noisy and offensive!  It may seem that I am complaining about something very trivial and some sections of society will read this and say “If you don’t like it them leave”.  To them I say… I am not asking anyone here to change – I love it here – merely writing about the fact that I haven’t managed to sleep through a night since coming here.  I love the life and energy here and wouldn’t want it any other way (god,...

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May 9, 2008 WS Samoa

There are parallel and sometimes conflicting legal systems in Samoa: the state system and the local matai (chief) system.  The state system being a relatively recent incarnation and the matai system being a traditional hierarchical structure used for many centuries.  Both have laws (formal and informal), courts, judges and punishments.

Outside the capital city of Apia, the matai system reigns supreme.  For many centuries it has maintained order in the rural villages.  Samoans attribute their long history without internal conflict and widespread...

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May 9, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

Families in rural Azerbaijan are heavily reliant on farm animals, often just a handful of sheep and a cow, for food and income. Microcredit loans allow enterprising individuals to scale up animal raising activities so that excess milk, cheese, wool, and offspring can be sold for a profit. But where does one go to buy a cow or a half dozen sheep? I learned that once a week as many as 4,000 farmers congregate with their animals to exchange ownership at the Livestock Bazaar. Kiva’s field partner, Aqroinvest arranged for me to meet a client and conduct an interview at the...

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May 5, 2008 PE Peru

It was in December 2006 when I received an email from my brother inviting me to join a cool new website named Kiva.org which allowed individuals with a credit card to finance entrepreneurs in the developing world. Although I had heard of Microfinance I didn’t fully appreciate what it offered the world until I began to research Kiva.org, its field partners, and had read Muhammad Yunus’s book “Banker to the Poor”. I then realized how special the Kiva concept was and knew I had to get involved.

I am now close to the end of my 6 month...

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May 5, 2008 TZ Tanzania

I have been in Dar es Salaam working with SELFINA for almost 6 months now, and my experience has been somewhat different to that of most other fellows. Unlike most fellows, I have not been going out into the field to visit clients. I have been based in SELFINA’s head office working on integrating kiva’s requirements into SELFINA’s existing processing, e.g. adding kiva-specific surveys to the loan applications. My goal has been to develop an efficient system for posting, journaling, data collection and filing (e.g. Ben Elberger, Dana Lunberry, and the excel master Alec...

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May 5, 2008 AZ Azerbaijan

As I wrap up my time as a Kiva Fellow with Norwegian Microcredit (Normicro) in Azerbaijan, I realized that I cannot adequately summarize in words the knowledge I’ve gained on microfinance and Azerbaijan, things and places I’ve seen, and people and entrepreneurs I’ve met.  For to share about microfinance in Azerbaijan, one must place it in the context of the country’s historical and current political and economic situation.  Besides, the previous Kiva Fellow in Azerbaijan had already written an excellent blog on this topic.  (See: ‘The Role of Microfinance in...

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Apr 30, 2008 KH Cambodia

Most of the clients I visit make just enough money from their businesses to get by day to day.  When you ask what their future plans or hopes are, some have none in sight- just repeating the same monotonous labor, day in and day out, to continue to put food on the table… challenging enough with the rising food inflation here (http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-04-21-voa21.cfm).  If family members are sick (with an 8+ member household in a developing country- odds are someone will be sick), medical costs can make this prohibitive and put business...

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