Aug 27, 2007 UG Uganda

I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual African Microfinance Conference last week! Over 500 top government officials, academics, policy makers, and representatives from the private and public sector congregated at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala for the four day event. Although I learned a lot from the presentations, speeches, and panel discussions, the networking opportunities were the real strength of the conference. Amidst the numerous dining and coffee breaks I had the chance to chat with Uganda’s Minster of Microfinance and the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic...

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Aug 22, 2007 GT Guatemala

Here’s a little video of a more average women’s group meeting at Friendship Bridge. The women meet, pray, have a little team-building exercise, have some “informal education”, this time about how to vote in the upcoming election, then pay their “cuota”, the monthly payment, and figure out about the next meeting. The informal education is one of the facets of Friendship Bridge that they’re most proud of. They want the credit program to be a path to educational growth. The Friendship Bridge women attend these meetings every 28 days (4 weeks). They...

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Aug 20, 2007 GT Guatemala

Ever wonder what a real women’s group meeting looks like? Here’s a Guatemalan example, a paperwork meeting for Friendship Bridge in Tecpan. This is where they make the all-important and sometimes stressful decision about how big a loan they want to ask for. Everybody has to come and bring their “cedula” or national identification card. There were 30 women in the group last time, and this time they’re adding four new ones. All 34, with various children and other relatives (and the occasional dog) are crammed into a little unfinished room with a dirt floor...

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Aug 18, 2007 KE Kenya

Hi readers!  My name is Ben Elberger and I work with Kiva as a Microfinance Partnerships Manager.  I’ll be blogging for the next six weeks from Africa as I travel with Chelsa Bocci and John Berry, Kiva Microfinance Partnership Directors, to our partners in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

Right now, I’m sitting in my friends’ dining room packing up final things and getting ready to head out to Dulles Airport for my flight to Entebbe (via Amsterdam).  Chelsa and I will meet up in Amsterdam and we’ll rendezvous with John in Uganda.  It’s...

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Aug 15, 2007 UG Uganda

 

Amidst many adventures, this week has had its share of sobering events. Many of Life in Africa’s (LiA) Kiva borrowers live in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Kampala. As a Kiva fellow, I travel to their homes to chat with them about the challenges they face operating small-scale businesses. On most days, the head of LiA’s microfinance program, Grace Ayaa, accompanies me on my interviews to serve as a translator. On Saturday Grace was late to our meeting. After some time she showed up looking dazed and disheartened. Grace informed...

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Aug 15, 2007 KE Kenya

 

So alas, despite my proclamations last week of being the ‘Britney Spears of Africa’ or as I prefer the ‘Princess Di’, no one has asked me for my autograph. But fret not, I still have about a month to go and many more adventures to have! I am really enjoying this blogging malarkey, I will admit that up until a few months ago, I was ignorant about what a blog was, but now I am getting into it, and it’s a really interesting way of communicating with people. So anyway, last week I remarked on how the buses were quickly...

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Aug 13, 2007 GT Guatemala

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This morning we woke up at 4am to catch a microbus from Nebaj, Quiche, Guatemala to interview a group of women in San Francisco Javier. The reason for the interview is to write the story of their business and lives in order to help obtain microloans on Kiva.org for Friendship Bridge in Guatemala. The rain was pouring as we made our way through the deep puddles of the dark streets. Only a few people were out at this time of the morning, walking in the rain underneath...

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Aug 11, 2007 GT Guatemala

Magdalena Santos

We put the best pictures of the wonderful señoras we’re meeting up on our Flickr account and wanted to invite you to see them. These women are some of the most amazing and admirable women. And oh, so photogenic. We grow in respect for them daily.

The entire set is here – we invite you to browse it.

You can browse all the women’s stories on Kiva here.

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Aug 11, 2007 KE Kenya

I’ve been in Nairobi since last Wednesday evening. Eb-F opened a new Unit here about three months ago. On Thursday we moved to a more permanent and bigger office and have just been getting settled. Friday I was able to go to the field – Kibera Slums. A lot of what I could write about Nairobi has already been covered really well by Kerry in other entries but I just wanted to share a quick few thoughts:

- Nairobi traffic is absolutely horrendous. It’s worse than any city I’ve ever seen in the US, except maybe Los Angeles.

- Al-Jazeera news gets a terribly unfair rap in...

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Aug 8, 2007 KE Kenya

So I’m in the home stretch of my time as a Kiva Fellow. I’ll be returning to New York next week. I have mixed emotions about this – it will be wonderful to see my family and friends again, to enjoy American efficiency and hot water and not eat barbecued red meat with every meal, but the past several weeks have been an undeniably instructive, formative and remarkable experience for me. Last Thursday night was my last in Nakuru, the town where Ebony’s head office is. I went to dinner that night with the whole staff. We spent several hours at the restaurant, dancing to the spirited Kenyan...

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