Stories tagged with Sierra Leone

Feb 2, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

The other day I took a shared taxi home from work in Freetown, which costs about US$0.20. The driver asked me what I was doing here in Sierra Leone. When I replied “Microcredit,” he said, “Ah, that is for women.”

He’s right – the microfinance industry has focused most of its resources on poor women because they are especially affected by poverty, and empowering women can bring about positive changes in their families and communities. At one of the organizations I’m working with over 99% of their loans are to women.

I told the taxi driver that in spite of this focus on...

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Dec 12, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

Last week I had the opportunity take a trip to visit three of ARD’s branches outside of Freetown. I spent five days traveling around Sierra Leone with Jusu, the Kiva Coordinator and MIS Manager, and our driver, General. We traveled to Bo, Kenema, and Makeni, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th largest cities in Sierra Leone.

I enjoyed the trip and was excited about the opportunity to see other parts of Sierra Leone. It was fun working at the other branches of ARD and meeting their staff members, who were all very friendly and welcoming. Before leaving Freetown, I considered our working...

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Dec 12, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

Sunset at Bureh Beach

One of the highlights of my time here in Sierra Leone has been visiting the wonderful beaches this country has to offer. This last Saturday, I visited one of Sierra Leone’s most spectacular beaches, Bureh Beach. Although Bureh is probably no more than 45 miles away from Freetown, the journey there took a few hours considering Sierra Leone’s poor road conditions and bad traffic. I arrived at Bureh Beach with friends around 9am and we were...

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Oct 10, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

By Becky Myers, KF12, Sierra Leone

Illiteracy and a lack of basic business skills are one of the primary reasons why many economic activities fail.  In Sierra Leone, illiteracy rates hover around  71% for females and 48% for males, one of the worst in the world.  Basic business skills of many entrepreneurs are also largely lacking.  Interviewing borrowers reveals that a majority commingle business transactions with personal activities.  Many times, business transactions are tracked mentally, translating to unknown sales, expenses and, crucially, profit.   Under these...

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Sep 9, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”- RFK

The first news reports on BBC, New York Times, and AP said that the bomb went off at 8:10 in the morning. I swear though, that I heard it at 8:04. It’s not every day that a young American not serving in the armed forces...

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Sep 9, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

By Becky Myers, Kiva Fellow, Sierra Leone

For the past few weeks in Sierra Leone, I have spent time working with my microfinance organization to explore potential commercial loans.  In today’s financial environment, where grants can fluctuate wildly and loans like Kiva’s are a rare gem, the organization is focused on scaling up its business.  Unmet demand for microfinance services is quite large here in Sierra Leone.  It is estimated that 300,000 potential clients exist throughout the country, and microfinance organizations have only reached 90,000 clients.  And competition...

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Aug 8, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

By Becky Myers, KF12, Sierra Leone

Shuttling around Freetown, Sierra Leone, provides an immediate sense of the city’s vibe.  The west side of town houses a cluster of NGO’s, government aid organizations and UN offices.  The east side of town is home to row after row of tightly packed residential buildings and is by far the most populated area of the city.  The downtown area consists of The Bank of Sierra Leone, The Houses of Parliament and various other government offices.  This busy central district is also where most Sierra Leonean businesses operate, including ARD, a...

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Jul 7, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

Surfing the tattered pages of this blog, one is able to read about MFIs operating in saturated markets.

Sierra Leone as a whole is decidedly not such a market, but I sometimes suspect that certain segments have reached a point where you get a rapidly decreasing measure of development for your microfinance Leone. A quick survey of the Kiva portfolio of ARD and LAPO, SL reveals that a majority of clients operate businesses in the retail sector and many of these deal in the same products – Maggi cubes, plastic ware, soap, palmoil, smoked fish ect. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong...

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Jul 7, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

By Aaron Kaye, Kiva Fellow, Sierra Leone

I’ve been living in Sierra Leone for the past couple months and have never in my conversations with Sierra Leoneans broached the subject of the fighting and civilian atrocities that shook the country during the late 90s.  I discussed the topic only when friends or colleagues here brought it up.  Was this the right approach, or should I have discussed the topic, heeding US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ advice that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants”?

...

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Jul 7, 2010 SL Sierra Leone

By Aaron Kaye, Kiva Fellow, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a dangerous place to drive.  But this isn’t for lack of communication on the part of the drivers.  The chaotic streets of Sierra Leone’s captial, Freetown, are constantly buzzing with honking taxi horns and motorbike horns.

I had always thought that honking was a universal language — kind of like love or music or football/soccer.  It turns out I was totally wrong.  There is so much to learn about honking and I’ve been thoroughly educated since arriving in...

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