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...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with Ghana
I have been in the country for two weeks now and I love it. Ghana is known for its warmth—both physical and relational—and thus far, it has lived up to its reputation. The Ghanaian handshake, with its snap upon release, seems to epitomize the general tone of life here. Friendly and laid-back. In the town of Cape Coast where I’m living, taxi drivers remember your name and children invite you to games of make-shift pool (using long sticks and marbles)....Continue Reading >>
As my fellowship nears its end, I’ve purposely taken time to step back and revisit my original reasons for deciding to quit my job, stuff my apartment into a dusty storage unit, leave family and friends and fly to Ghana. One of my goals was to see the impact of commercialization on an MFI’s social mission.
Recently, Sinapi has...Continue Reading >>
I’ve been back in Chicago for about 2 weeks now and have had time to sit and digest my Kiva Fellow experience. Going into this I tried to keep a completely unbiased and open-mind about microfinance. I’m a huge supporter of microfinance, but I have heard critics argue that it does little to actually lift people out of poverty. So I tried to take my opportunity to see first hand how it affects borrowers.
During my 2-month stay in Cape Coast, Ghana I had the privilege to meet over a hundred borrowers successfully running their own businesses. I heard stories of individuals...Continue Reading >>
I’ve visited over 100 clients in the past two months and one of the most common responses to “how are you going to use this loan” is “I’m going to buy in bulk.” At first, it appeared to me that perhaps this is a common impulse to overstock inventory so a customer never walks away empty-handed. But, I was quick to learn that this bulk purchasing phenomenon is not driven by concern about product supply but rather inventory cost. ...Continue Reading >>
During the last month, I’ve visited quite a few courtyards, backyards, sideyards, and frontyards. In each one, I can usually count on two things. One is that someone in the group rises to find chairs for the loan officers and myself and places these chairs in a cool, shady spot. The other is the Sinapi cheer. A loan officer walks into the meeting area and shouts, “Sinapi” and claps twice. In response, the group members yell, “Abapa” (Good Seed). This cheer goes through several more iterations...Continue Reading >>
Sometimes the end is the best beginning. And, by the end of my first repayment day, a group of four women marched past me, through the hallway and onto the red dirt path outside the house where they had just completed their repayments. As they passed, some were shaking their heads, others were raising their voices in frustration, but they were all unified by their goal – to make a visit on a member of their group who was absent from the repayment meeting and failed to make another repayment again. The rest of the group covered...Continue Reading >>
Along with its microfinance unit, CRAN also sponsors social development projects. CRAN has built 5 schools in Ghana and has provided a community with clean running water. I recently got an opportunity to visit a CRAN sponsored school in the Abaenu community. To get to the village a 4×4 vehicle is a must. Once you turn off the nicely paved road headed to Accra, you embark on what is only comparable to a roller-coaster ride. For about 3 miles the truck bounced up-and-down, sided-to-side and every other way imaginable. After we arrived at the existing school it was apparent...Continue Reading >>
Struggles. That’s what came to mind during my first days in Ghana. The struggle to find my way around to light a candle when the electricity had failed again. The struggle to keep my body hydrated in the heat and humidity. But, much more, it was the heart wrenching struggles of those around me. The crippled man trying to navigate the cratered streets and bloodthirsty taxidrivers. The mother balancing what amounts to a small woodshed of goods on her head while carrying a baby on her...Continue Reading >>
I’ve been in Ghana now for one month and I realized I’ve been slacking in keeping up my journal, so I’m posting several random experiences I’ve had so far.
On most days I go out with a loan officer to take pictures of clients who are requesting loans for their businesses or have already taken a loan and we go to follow-up on their progress. The first problem you encounter when trying to find someone is there are no street names or...Continue Reading >>