Fellows Blog Posts by Banducci

Apr 16, 2009 GT Guatemala

Someone asked me how it was that I seemed to have (almost) constant access to the internet AND no indoor running water or heat. From an American perspective, it seems irrational and contradictory. But, Guatemala is filled with (seeming) contradictions and contrasts. I suspect that many of my “fellow” fellows have experienced the same in the countries where they are working.

The family I live with has satellite TV, a wide screen television (and a television in every bedroom) but they have no indoor running water or heating. They...

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Apr 13, 2009 GT Guatemala

So, warning, this has NOTHING to do with microfinance.

But, here are two videos that give a definite flavor of life here in Nimasac, Guatemala where I have spent the last two months as a Kiva Fellow with ASDIR, Kiva’s field partner in Totonicapan, Guatemala.

K’iche is the predominant language spoken here. Many people have asked me to describe what it sounds like, but I’ve found that to be an impossible task, so here is a short video of animated dinner conversation in K’iche.

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Apr 7, 2009 GT Guatemala

Long hours, low pay, angry barking dogs, collection calls, long motorcycle rides and even longer walks…………what on earth keeps these loan officers “in the saddle” 8+ hours a day, 6 days a week?  I interviewed two of ASDIR’s (Kiva’s partner bank in Totonicapan, Guatemala)  loan officers to try and find out.

I have to say I have been most impressed by the dedication, care and compassion of the  loan officers at this MFI. I would also bet  that most of Kiva’s 90+  field partners  have similar, committed loan officers—- clearly...

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Apr 1, 2009

It’s taken me some time to “get my feet on the ground” microfinance wise. So many distractions upon arriving in a new country, community, culture, family–not to mention learning my way around ASDIR, Kiva’s partner bank.  After almost 6 weeks here, this is my first post that focuses on microcredit.

I have visited almost 50 Kiva borrowers since arriving here, but these two stand out for me as exemplifying the role that “having access to credit”  can play in the lives of the hardworking and resourceful poor.

The first, is an interview...

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Mar 21, 2009 GT Guatemala

Warning: this post has absolutely nothing to do with microfinace. Just gives you a glimpse into what is involved with taking a hot shower here in Nimasac, Guatemala.

When I was first accepted as a Kiva Fellow,  I was asked if I had any “special” requirements. My response was that I wanted to be relatively safe and be able to take a hot shower.

Taking a hot shower is no simple matter in Guatemala. First of all, most homes do not have running water. (this includes the family that I am living with). So, in that situation, here is how you get to take a hot shower....

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Mar 13, 2009 GT Guatemala

It’s almost impossible to find a family in this little town of Nimasac (in the western highlands of Guatemala) who has not had a son or husband go to the U.S. to find work.

Boys often leave when they are teenagers (16 or so) and take the perilous route to the U.S. through Mexico, by enlisting the services of a “coyote” (immigrant smuggler)—which is a very risky proposition. If they do make it to the U.S. alive, they arrive in large cities (Houston and New York seem to be the favorites here) where they connect with acquaintances or friends who are already there. Many...

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Mar 4, 2009 GT Guatemala

I am not exactly sure how the “department” (like one of our states) of Totonicapan fared during the so called“civil war” in Guatemala during the 1980’s and 1990’s when it is estimated over 200,000 indigenous people were murdered by the government. Entire villages and all their inhabitants were destroyed during this time of genocide in Guatemala. (It is not a subject I have felt comfortable broaching……yet). BUT, I can tell you that this department seems fiercely independent, cohesive and not easily intimidated. In my two weeks here, I have become familiar with two examples of the...

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Feb 23, 2009 GT Guatemala

Many of my friends and family have been shocked, when I explained to them that microcredit loans often carry (what we would consider) usurious/oppressive interest rates. Many of them have asked me how ANYONE could justify interest rates of 30 or 50 or even 100%?

I have tried to explain all the factors that go into how a microfinance bank determines just how much interest it must charge in order to remain a viable business.

I go through the litany of factors contributing to the “high” interest rates—-the fact that it costs as much (or more) to make a $300 loan as it does...

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