Jul 31, 2008 NG Nigeria

There are a number of things here in Nigeria that are just different enough to bring laughter and puzzlement to my days…

“Oyibo” – Wherever I go, people call out “Oyibo.”  Naturally, I initially thought this meant “hello” or served as some sort of greeting.  I suppose it is a greeting of sorts, but literally means “white person.”  It isn’t an insult, just a way to get my attention and a wave.  Generally oyibos remain in Lagos, the business capital, or Port Harcourt, where the oil flows.  I’ve seen two other oyibos in my first month here in Benin City – not many.  I’m certainly an...

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Jul 28, 2008 KH Cambodia

Part of the reason I signed up for the Kiva Fellowship was to see how microfinance actually works on the ground. You can read all the books on microfinance, but that couldn’t make up for never seeing it in action with your own eyes. After getting an understanding of AMK’s operations from their nice air-conditioned central office (where I just finished making them an Excel macro to keep better track of their Kiva loans), I knew I had to see the loan officer in action to really understand the pros and cons of microfinance.

Saphanith, Elena and I stopped by Au Village...

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Jul 27, 2008 KH Cambodia

To see a complete list of MAXIMA’s clients who live in rural areas such as this one, please click here.

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Jul 27, 2008 UG Uganda

Yesterday I was not in a fight, but rather saw my first fight in Uganda. This fight was over a woman – me. However, it was not between jealous lovers. Rather, the fight was between two taxi drivers vying for my fare.

In Kampala, if one doesn’t have a car or is too scared to drive (me), there are two other forms of transportation to get around. One option is to take a boda-boda which is a motorcycle. The other option is to take a matatu which is a shared van that is licensed to carry 14 people, but usually has upwards of 16 people crammed...

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Jul 25, 2008 GH Ghana

Microcredit undoubtedly represents a creative and original response to poverty. But I think that somewhere along the way, the innovativeness of the idea seems to have translated into an expectation of novelty and ingenuity for all “small-scale entrepreneurs.” I was reminded of this recently while reading a report published by IBM that described microcredit recipients as “creative” and “entrepreneurial.” While I’m certainly no expert on the subject, my time in the field has reinforced my belief that microloans do not generally enable budding entrepreneurs to realize innovative business...

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Jul 25, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

1. Tajiki-what?: Being an American in Tajikistan means that you are in a country that few of your compatriots have ever heard of, let alone traveled to. You are a curiosity everywhere you go and the lack of Westerners gives you the opportunity to act as kind of a mini-ambassador, answering all of questions that Tajiks have been waiting, sometimes their whole lives, to ask an American. Especially in the small towns, I attract a crowd of onlookers whenever I’m conducting an interview with a Kiva client, gawking at me as if I’ve just arrived from the moon....

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Jul 25, 2008 KH Cambodia

I’m regularly taken aback by the beauty that I witness all over Cambodia. However, I am hesitant to write this blog for one reason: I could never fully recount the beauty of the landscape, people, and culture, neither through words nor photographs. Life in Cambodia has been surprisingly humbling and incredibly rewarding, so I hope that I can convey at least a glimmer of my experiences of the country. I’ll do my best to highlight a few of the aspects of Cambodian life and culture which I most appreciate.

Cultural Persona: Pride, cheer, concord –...

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Jul 23, 2008 BA Bosnia and Herzegovina

The smell of a farm is one thing that is familiar to me, but not much else is.  It’s amazing how removed you can be from a process that is so central to life, but it’s true.  Feel like I should take some kind of crash course in farming, something that would qualify me to report on the majority of the businesses here.  But I’m not qualified and that’s that.  This is the amateur’s version of the life of Kiva clients in Bosnia and Herzegovina.



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Jul 22, 2008 SL Sierra Leone


Musa Kamara is a simple man.  He lives in small hut in a remote region of the Sierra Leone jungle.  He lives with his wife and daughter under a palm-branch roof that he built himself.  For food he grows a few vegetables in his garden and hunts his own bushmeat.  Musa gets almost everything he needs for his family from the jungle.  Maybe you would expect it, maybe you wouldn’t, but Musa is an extremely happy man.  If you ask him why, he’ll probably say it’s because he has the finest poyo in Sierra...

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Jul 21, 2008 KH Cambodia

On Friday, Sophanith, Elena and I went to visit the Thea Chhin group, to do a journal on the group leader, Thea Chhin. The journey to Sala Khom Village was quite long. We left AMK‘s central office in Phnom Penh early in the morning and the drive to the branch office in Kampong Chhnang took about an hour. There we were greeted by the branch manager and we switched from our car to a pickup truck that was able to handle the village roads. As soon as our truck started driving on dirt roads, I was reminded of a road trip I took during college with my friends to...

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