Fellows Blog Posts by karenhansengray

May 8, 2011 NI Nicaragua


Onions and more onions.


It has been a phenomenal summer harvest here in Estelí, Nicaragua. Everywhere you look; there are fields filled with onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and cabbage, thanks to just the right amount of rainfall and sunshine, and access to financing through micro-credit.  With loans from Kiva,  borrowers bought plants, fertilizer, pesticide, gasoline for irrigation pumps, and also paid the salaries of workers, and rent for the land and use...

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Apr 13, 2011 NI Nicaragua

Cappuccino at Cafe Barista in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The coffee harvest takes place from December to February each year,  but the coffee growers are applying for Kiva loans now, to cover the cost of fertilizer,  salaries for workers, and other supplies.

As a Kiva Fellow with MiCredito in Esteli, Nicaragua,  I decided to learn as much as I could about coffee.  To do that, I followed three different paths:

  • One was to visit Leonardo, a coffee grower, who lives...
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    Mar 28, 2011 NI Nicaragua

    A Brief History


    In 2008, a movement began in Jalapa, Nicaragua by a man who was over-indebted. This man was able to convince other debtors facing economic hardship, to join him in relinquishing their responsibility to pay back their loans. President Ortega supported them. Then, the movement turned violent, there was fear that investors would avoid Nicaragua, and the micro-finance institutions united. A moratorium was passed favoring the debtors in the movement, along with a low interest rate and extended term. Still, some debtors did not make...

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    Mar 12, 2011 NI Nicaragua

    Every morning in Esteli, Nicaragua, a siren goes off at 6am, calling hundreds of factory workers to start their day, making some of the finest cigars in the world.

    Juan Carlos is a Kiva borrower. He grows tobacco for making cigars.

    First, the tobacco leaves are fluffed during drying to release heat and moisture.

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    Mar 12, 2011 NI Nicaragua

    Outside the town of Esteli in Nicaragua, you can find the Catholic University of Dry Tropic Farming and Livestock (UCATSE).   In October 2010,   MíCrédito and Kiva disbursed their first student loans there.

    These loans allowed the students to put into practice, what they had learned in the classroom.  One group of students used their loans ($75 per student at 1.5% interest per month) to make cheese which was sold on campus.

    As a Kiva Fellow, I decided to visit the university, meet the students, see the process firsthand, and offer my services as an official taster....

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    Feb 26, 2011

    It was dark outside, and I was starting to worry.  Then, I heard a soft knock at my apartment door, I ran to open it, and there stood Cindy, hair a mess, covered in dust, and holding a large bag of onions.

    Cindy started working at MiCredito , a new Kiva field partner in Nicaragua, the day after I arrived as their Kiva Fellow. She was hired to be the Kiva Coordinator. Before signing on, Cindy kept the books at a bakery in the big city of Managua, so her first field experience was something of an adventure.

    We had traveled three hours north from Managua to Esteli...

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    Feb 19, 2011

    It’s Christmas here! The boy squealed while looking out the window as the airplane touched down at Sandino International Airport.  The Christmas lights stay on year-round in Nicaragua, a decreed celebration upon Daniel Ortega’s return to power in 2006, and the thirtieth anniversary of the people’s revolution in 2009.  But, 2011 is another year, and there is an election in November.

    Maybe, some of the potholes will finally be filled, my co-worker said, as we drive down the road Managua-style, swerving side-to-side, as if dodging landmines.

    Turning into a shantytown, we hit an...

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