austinharris

Fellows Blog Posts by austinharris

Sep 6, 2010

Austin Harris, KF11 Rwanda

Microfinance institutes (MFI’s) and large, commercial banks have traditionally offered different loan products and catered to a different clientele.  Most notably, MFI’s offer loans that are too small for large, commercial banks to consider.  In addition, microloans are distinctly different from traditional bank loans in that commercial bank loans are typically secured and offered at interest rates that are lower than those of microloans. Recently, however, large banks have been venturing into the microfinance realm, offering small loans that...

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Aug 15, 2010 RW Rwanda

Child savings accounts have been provided by an array of groups, including non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), financial institutions, and national governments.  Each has its own method and agenda for providing the accounts.  A common form of these accounts is a regular savings account that is open to minors and either held in the minor’s name or jointly with a parent.  This product is generally delivered through the same channels as other savings products.  In addition to providing accounts, the group may also offer courses to teach financial literacy and lifestyle practices.  These...

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Aug 3, 2010 RW Rwanda

Austin Harris, KF11 Rwanda

Sorghum Beer

Ingredients:

1 kg. (2.2 lbs.) Sorghum 7g (1/4-ounce) Baking Yeast

Directions:

Soak sorghum in water, allowing it to begin germination.  Dry the partially germinated grains.  Crush the sorghum and boil in water for about 15 minutes.  Drain and put into a large vessel.  Add 4 liters of hot water and let sit for 1 hour.

Transfer liquid portion of mash to a large vessel and add 8 liters of hot water.  Let the mixture cool naturally until reaching room temperature.

Add the yeast and one cup of...

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Jul 16, 2010 RW Rwanda

Austin Harris, KF11 Rwanda

Blue Financial Services is a Microfinance Institute (MFI) that began in 2001 and gained extensive coverage in Africa operating in 13 countries.  The MFI champions itself as providing ethical microfinance to underbanked people of Africa.  In 2007, Blue Financial Services Rwanda, a subsidiary of South Africa’s Blue Financial Services, was licensed as an MFI and started providing financial services, including salary advances, personal loans, home improvement loans, education loans, and debt consolidation.  In June 2010, only three years after its...

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Jul 7, 2010 RW Rwanda

Austin Harris, KF11 Rwanda

In September 2009, Vision Finance Company (VFC), a major microfinance bank in Rwanda, established a branch office in Rwamagana, a city in eastern Rwanda.  Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB), another major microfinance bank in Rwanda, had established a branch office in the same area in June of that same year.  The two branch offices are located just across the street from each other.  Shortly after VFC began lending money, it noticed the number of delinquent payments and defaults were much higher than normal.  This trend continued and the cause remained...

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Jun 9, 2010 RW Rwanda

Austin Harris, KF11 Rwanda

Economic growth is a focus and concern of most countries.  In developing countries the economic growth potential is often large and its effects can greatly benefit many in need.  One approach to achieving this goal is to increase the labor force or the output from labor.  Microfinance has been a significant contributor to this growth.  Among its benefits, microfinance loans have enabled more people to work.  Many of the poor have difficulties finding employment, and the capital provided by microfinance loans enables them to conduct business.  Also...

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May 25, 2010 RW Rwanda

Austin Harris, KF11 Rwanda

In 1994, over the course of 100 days, a mass killing of an estimated 800,000 people in Rwanda took place.   These killings were targeted at Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus, reducing the country’s population by over 10%.  Many witnessed family members and friends murdered, tortured, and/or raped.  Of those who were not killed, around two million Rwandans fled to neighboring countries.  Most, even if not directly involved, were affected by the genocide.  The wounds are deep and are still healing among the people.

After the genocide Rwandans have...

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May 10, 2010 RW Rwanda

Austin Harris, KF11 Kigali, Rwanda

I am a new Kiva Fellow in the KF11 class.  The other fellows and I have headed out to the field to work with various microfinance institutions.  I recently arrived in Kigali, Rwanda to start my work with Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB).  UOB was created in July 2007 as the merger between Urwego Community Bank and Opportunity Bank of Rwanda, and is now one of the largest microfinance institutes in Rwanda.  UOB offers group loans and individual loans and array of loan products, including village phone loans, school tuition loans, bicycle loans...

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