John Briggs

Fellows Blog Posts by John Briggs

May 4, 2010 LR Liberia

By John Briggs, KF10 Liberia

Liberia is tryin’ small. This common expression can be heard everywhere here: it means “I’m okay” or “I’m getting by” and is the equivalent of how many Americans reflexively answer “Fine” to the greeting “How are you?”

But many in Liberia are tryin’ larger, thanks to microfinance institutions (MFIs), most of which have set up shop since 14 years of civil conflict ended in 2003. There are five MFIs of scale in the country: LEAP, a Kiva field partner which is the largest MFI by number of clients and the oldest continuously operating...

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Mar 22, 2010 LR Liberia

By John Briggs, KF10, Liberia

In Liberia, D-Day is a regular occurrence. Disbursal Day, that is.

Liberia, a small West African country whose brutal civil conflicts made large headlines for years, is now a peaceful place. Its people are brimming with optimism and energy, and its fertile land is blessed with stunning beaches, renowned surf, and rain forests teeming with wildlife.

Under the leadership of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, institutions and infrastructure destroyed during the wars are being rebuilt. Thousands...

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Jun 20, 2009 KE Kenya

By John Briggs, KF8 Kenya

Update on sentiment shift: On June 23, Tom, the team captain for the (formerly) Pissed Off Kiva Lenders, changed the team name to Unhappy Kiva Lenders. Tom explained the name change in a posting on the team page: “I want the day to come soon when the team name will be ‘Delighted Again Kiva Lenders’ but the step above in the name change reflects current progress.”

Some Kiva lenders are pissed off about Kiva’s recent launch of loans to borrowers in the United States. Their angry cry has been heard in Kenya...

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Jun 12, 2009 KH Cambodia

This Wednesday marked a watershed moment for Kiva.org: borrowers from the U.S. made a well-publicized debut on the person-to-person microlending website. It left no doubt that microcredit, seen by many as the province of the poor, had arrived to serve Americans in need.

The floodgates are open, and they sluice both ways.

Kiva’s launch of lending in the U.S. has impassioned many, including a group of people in Cambodia near and dear to me — the staff of Maxima Mikroheranvatho, a Kiva partner microfinance institution where I was a Kiva Fellow from October 2008 to...

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Jun 4, 2009 KE Kenya

Kiva is a crowdsourcer.

Crowds of lenders are the source of funds for Kiva borrowers. A very recent milestone quietly appeared on the Kiva statistics page — over half a million lenders have funded borrower loans on the Kiva website. That’s one big crowd!

There’s also a crowd of volunteers and avid Kiva boosters: hundreds of volunteer editors and translators, dozens of Kiva Fellows in the field, umpteen heroic souls who volunteer at Kiva headquarters in San Francisco, and the nearly five-thousand-strong group of Kiva Friends, the best compadres ever.

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May 13, 2009 PH Philippines

What do you get when you cross a woman named Matilde Tamon and an organization like Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI)? A love song.

Matilde, who is a spry 75 years of age, has been a member of ASHI for 13 years. She loves to sing, and also loves what ASHI has done for her and the women in her community. Faced with this fortunate predicament, she did what any Filipino would do: she sang about it.

Some years ago Matilde composed a song of gratitude for ASHI, one which she usually delivers a capella. ASHI, a Grameen-style, non-profit microcredit institution that provides financial...

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Nov 6, 2008 KH Cambodia

I’m a new Kiva Fellow volunteering with Maxima, a microfinance institution (MFI) headquartered in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. I arrived in Phnom Penh about three weeks ago, and had the luxury of a week to acclimate before starting at Maxima.

My arrival coincided with a visit to Cambodia by Kiva co-founder Matt Flannery and Kiva Chief Software Architect Zvi Boshernitzan, who were making a field visit to see how Kiva works in the field for partner MFIs and for Kiva borrowers. I went straight from the airport to a dinner at a Phnom Penh restaurant with Matt, Zvi, and...

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Sep 18, 2008

I’m here at Kiva HQ, training as part of KF6, or Kiva fellows class 6.  Short take: there is an amazing amount to learn before we go into the field, and these Kiva people — staff, volunteers — are amazing.

We’re learning about Kiva, the organization, how it came to be and where it’s going.   We’ve been taught more about microfinance, and how Kiva partners with and works to strengthen the institutions in the field that actually do the lending.  We’re getting a crash course in the technologies that help make this all happen.  And we’re...

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