Fellows Blog Posts by Julia Kastner

Apr 9, 2010 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF10 Mexico

A lot of Kiva blogs have discussed the issue of interest rates and how much interest should be paid on a microfinance loan.  But what about the size of the loan itself?  It’s actually not that easy for an MFI to decide how much to lend to a client – if they lend too much, they fear the client won’t be able to pay back the loan, but if they lend too little, the client may not be able to achieve their business goals.  For CrediComun, my MFI in Mexico, ensuring that their clients are not over-indebted is a major priority – they want...

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Mar 24, 2010 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF10 Mexico

Mexico shares a major problem with its northern neighbor.  No, I’m not referring to the drug trade, which has left 18,000 Mexicans dead since 2006 (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8582497.stm for more), although this is obviously Mexico’s biggest problem both socially and economically. In this case, I’m referring to obesity. According to a study by the OECD, 24.2% of Mexico’s population is obese, which makes Mexico the second-most obese country in the world, second only to the United States at 30.6%.

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Jan 21, 2010

By Julia Kastner, KF10 Mexico

I knew this placement was going to be different when I walked into CrediComún’s headquarters and saw a 4 foot by 4 foot poster depicting the company’s technology infrastructure.   It was as sophisticated if not more so as the infrastructure I’d seen at my last job in New York City.  As I was shown around the organization, I was introduced to many computer programmers and IT specialists, even at the highest level of the organization, and I realized CrediComún wasn’t going to need my help with Excel – I was probably the...

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Jan 6, 2010 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF10 Mexico

Feliz Navidad and Feliz Año Nuevo from Mexico!

Yesterday was the first day of my second Kiva placement at a brand new MFI called CrediComun.  I completed my first placement with Fundacion Realidad in mid-December (make a loan to them here!) so I had a couple weeks of vacation to travel!  I went to the city of Oaxaca, a city famous for history and art, and to Zihuatenejo, a fishing village turned beach.  Let’s just say it was a really tough couple of weeks!  But I must admit, I couldn’t quite clear the microfinance perspective...

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Dec 8, 2009 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF9 Mexico

What does it take for you to repay your credit card? A click of a button? A check in the mail?

Yesterday marked my last day at Fundacion Realidad A.C., a microlender based in Mexico City. Over the three months of my first Kiva placement, I’ve visited a lot of clients and witnessed a lot of repayment sessions (when groups gather weekly or bi-weekly to gather funds to pay back their loans). You, the lender, just get a nice email saying the loan’s been repaid, but I wanted to share with you some of the issues the MFI and the...

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Nov 23, 2009 MX Mexico

A borrower making handicrafts while waiting for her loan.

By Julia Kastner, KF9 Mexico

Often while out interviewing borrowers for a new Kiva profile, the first question is “WILL THIS SLOW DOWN MY LOAN??”

Fortunately, my answer is “No, don’t worry!  Kiva will repay your MFI, not make you wait!”   This is only true, however, because of Kiva’s controversial policy of allowing its MFI partners, like my partner, Fundacion Realidad (FRAC) to make...

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Nov 10, 2009 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF9 Mexico

When Kiva first started, all of its loans were to individuals.  Borrower A asked for X dollars and voila!  Person A got a Kiva loan.   Over time, however, Kiva’s been working with more and more MFIs, and the number of different types of loans and lending models has been increasing.

Watch a meeting of a community bank (a.k.a. UDE):

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As Kiva explains:

“In a group loan, each member of the group...

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Oct 22, 2009 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF9 Mexico

This week, I visited a Kiva group loan called Peña Blanca at the top of a mountain.  Sometimes you can drive up to the top, but when it rains, the stones that make up the path can come loose and it can be dangerous.  So the Fundación Realidad loan officer and I climbed the four hours up the hill to see how the loan was going.

I documented some of our journey so you can get an idea of what it was like!

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Oct 9, 2009 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF9 Mexico

As I was taking pesos out of a bank here in Mexico City, it seemed very quiet, and it hit me – no babies!  For many of us, going to the bank (or the doctor, the post office, etc.) is a quiet, adult activity, but for many recipients of micro-loans, they have responsibilities like children that can’t get left behind.

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Sep 27, 2009 MX Mexico

By Julia Kastner, KF9

This past week, I went to visit my first loan with Fundación Realidad A.C. in Mexico.  I spent the week with Fundación Realidad’s branch office in Copainalá, Chiapas, but the loan was located at the tip of a mountain in a sunny town called Coapilla.  Fundación Realidad makes group loans, so there were five women receiving loans that day.  One of them, Maria Luisa Morales Perez, offered to take the profile picture around her wood-burning oven, and also offered to let me film her...

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