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Fellows Blog Posts by fbillou

Feb 5, 2011 BJ Benin

By Frederic Billou, KF13, Benin

You never forget your first (Kiva) time

I funded my first loan on Kiva in the very early days, back on April 13, 2005 in fact. I remember like it was yesterday the first time I received a repayment for that very first loan. Sitting at my desk in San Francisco, I paused for a second to try and measure what had just happened:  money was flowing from San Francisco to Kenya, and then back to San Francisco, from the comfort of my office.

I also remember the day that first loan was fully paid back. Since I had financed the...

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Jan 29, 2011 BJ Benin

By Frederic Billou, KF13, Benin

As a Kiva Fellow working with ALIDe, Kiva’s partner in Benin, I spend  a lot of time visiting Kiva borrowers. After almost 3 months in the field, here is a quick snapshot of 3 borrowers, each with a slightly different reason to smile…

First, here is a current Kiva borrower who came to an ALDe branch to make a repayment and then very proudly flashed a brand new national ID card. These cards are very difficult to obtain here and require a ton of paperwork that is often difficult to get (for example,...

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Jan 7, 2011 BJ Benin

By Frederic Billou, KF13, Benin

The “last mile” is one of the most discussed topics when debating microfinance:  No matter how optimized and efficient a microfinance institution may be,  developing countries are still very much cash-based  and loan officers have to cover the “last mile” to physically reach borrowers , disburse funds, collect repayments and build and maintain a close relationship over time. As such, this “last mile” is one of the largest expenses for many microfinance institutions reaching rural borrowers.

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Dec 8, 2010 BJ Benin

By Frederic Billou, KF13, Benin

As a Kiva Fellow working with loan officers from ALIDe, Kiva’s partner in that country, I am fortunate to spend a lot of time in the field, visiting many Kiva borrowers.

As mentioned in part 1, the vast majority of people relying on micro loans are extremely dedicated to repaying their loans on time. While one may think that people with such limited resources are higher risk, the fact that their loans  actually insure their subsistence in most cases makes it quite literally vital for them to remain on...

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