Fellows Blog Posts by Lisa

May 1, 2011 ID Indonesia

Yvonne Chen, a Boren Fellow in Indonesia (2010-2011) and a graduate student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, contacted me after reading about my experience here at TLM on the Kiva Fellows blog.  She was interested in conducting her research study in West Timor with TLM to collect data for her thesis on youth financial inclusion in East Indonesia.  Despite her busy schedule, Yvonne was able to share some findings from her West Timor research as well as thoughts on Indonesian microfinance and Kiva’s work.  Enjoy reading the interview below!

... Continue Reading >>

Apr 15, 2011 ID Indonesia

When I first arrived at TLM in January, I read their 2011 business plan and was thrilled to see that the MFI was planning to launch mobile savings by mid-year! Just as kids dream of sugar plums and gumdrops at Christmas, my mind flooded with images of cellphones chirping with loan repayment text messages and happy borrowers following up on their loans far away from any branch office. I was elated that I was placed at an MFI that was pioneering the way with mobile phone banking technology!

Continue Reading >>

Mar 24, 2011 ID Indonesia

Did you expect an Indonesian Rap song when you first clicked on the blog link?  Sorry no unique West Timor rap here.  Actually the #1 artist that I’ve heard is Justin Beiber, and I’ve been notified on SEVERAL occasions that he’ll be playing in Jakarta soon.  I’ll spare you and not embed his latest track into this blog, though if you’d like the true Kupang experience, feel free to download the song from iTunes and listen while reading the rest of this post.

Despite the shock of seeing so many Justin Beiber fanatics on the isolated island of West Timor, I was perplexed by the brightly...

Continue Reading >>

Mar 3, 2011 ID Indonesia

When I first told friends and family that I was headed to West Timor for several months for my Kiva Fellowship, I often heard the response, “Huh, there’s a West Timor?”

Most people are more familiar with Indonesia’s neighbor, East Timor, due to its 25-year struggle for independence, which often splashed in the headlines of Western papers.  This long and violent battle for independence has resulted a strong UN presence and continuous aid relief efforts in East Timor.  In strict contrast, West Timor of Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) province was left out of the limelight.

... Continue Reading >>

Feb 16, 2011 ID Indonesia

Are microfinance institutions (MFIs) exploiting poor borrowers by charging the excessive interest rates?  Some people think so, especially after the publicity around Andhra Pradesh in India.  Despite recent events, there has always been a widespread agreement that most MFIs should operate sustainably, keeping costs as low as possible, and charging interest rates high enough to cover these costs.  However, even in these instances, rates hover much higher than your typical commercial bank.

One of the leading factors attributing to high MFI interest rates is administration expense. ...

Continue Reading >>