Peter

Fellows Blog Posts by Peter

Aug 11, 2010

By Peter Marchant, KF12 Zambia

Maize is a staple of the Zambian diet. On average, each Zambian consumes about 200 kilograms of the stuff each year. Farmers across the country grow maize on small plots, but they often find it difficult to sell their crop at a profit.

Zambia is sparsely irrigated, so farmers plant nearly all of the maize in the country at the start of the rainy season in late October or November and harvest when the rains let up. The market is flooded with maize at harvest time (roughly may to July) and prices fall by as much as 30%. The government...

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Apr 26, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Peter Marchant, KF10 Azerbaijan

Cows are a perfect microfinance investment, and it’s not just their perfumed smell and cuddly good looks.

As a Kiva Fellow I have gazed upon the ample forms of innumerable Azerbaijani cows. I have sullied my boots in great piles of cow poo and dodged a charging cow with a girlish yelp and extreme lack of coordination that elicited fits of laughter from bemused Kiva borrowers. I have inhaled the pungent scent of cattle in close quarters from the Iranian border to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. I have seen cows in every...

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Mar 29, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Peter Marchant, KF10 Azerbaijan

A new study led by University of British Columbia anthropologist Joseph Henrich found that active market participants tend to treat strangers more fairly. To the extent that Microfinance encourages market participation and supplants the need for top-down development models like direct aid, these results indicate that it may also encourage borrowers to adopt fairer attitudes towards those outside of their immediate social circle.

The results of the study (published in Science and entitled “Markets, Religion, Community...

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Mar 9, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Peter Marchant, KF10 Azerbaijan

In the Bilasuvar Region of Azerbaijan a number of Kiva borrowers live in semi-permanent settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled their homes during the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

An IDP settlement in the Bilasuvar Region of Azerbaijan

Many of these borrowers have a principal source of income unrelated to their Kiva loan. They work as teachers...

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Mar 1, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Peter Marchant, KF10 Azerbaijan

Microfinance interest rate discussions usually center on how much and often overlook the question of whether poor microborrowers should pay any interest at all. Kiva lenders are a philanthropic bunch. They could eliminate interest rates and cover administrative costs with donations, but for economic and ethical reasons they shouldn’t.

The Economics:

  • Sustainability: The point of microfinance is sustainable development through broader access to capital. Donation capital is fickle, fluctuating and,...
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Feb 15, 2010 AZ Azerbaijan

By Peter Marchant, KF10 Azerbaijan

The photos on borrower profiles provide a key connection between Kiva lenders and the borrowers they fund, but lending based on snapshots has drawbacks. A photo can convey a lot about a borrower, a culture, a business or a life and create an emotional reaction for the viewer. Yet the very power of a picture can prevent lenders from learning the full story of a borrower and their country.

Azerbaijan’s borrower photos often feature dour men in tweed coats peering out unsmiling from behind bushy mustaches. They stand near a few head of...

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