Prem Thomas

Fellows Blog Posts by Prem Thomas

Jan 11, 2010 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Philippines

After spending over three months in Manila working in the Center for Community Transformation Credit Cooperative’s (CCT) head office, I thought it would be interesting for the Kiva family to hear from CCT’s President and Founder Ruth Callanta and meet my coworkers. Ate Ruth, as she is called by her coworkers (Ate, pronounced “ah-TEH”, is a Tagalog term of respect meaning older sister), is very passionate about her work and respected and loved by the CCT community for her vision and dedication.

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Dec 19, 2009 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Philippines

I thought my coworkers at the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) were just recycling balloons from the last birthday party to save money, but a coworker told me that “It’s Jesus’s birthday.”

As I prepare to celebrate my first Christmas away from family, the Christmas spirit has become overwhelming with carols being played since I arrived in Manila in early October. People say the Philippines starts celebrating in months that end in “ber,” so Christmas is really a four-month event here.

There was quite a bit of...

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Dec 1, 2009 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Philippines

They look like happy kids to me. As I mentioned in my first blog post, at the Center for Community Transformation Credit Cooperative (CCT) it’s not all about microfinance. I had the chance to take a look at some of the work CCT is doing with street dwellers (homeless) throughout the Philippines.

Many of the children in the photos above were born in the streets and would most likely live there the rest of their lives without the help of organizations like CCT. You would never know that after...

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Nov 11, 2009 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Philippines

Yesterday I took a trip to a CCT Kiva branch located in Caloocan, about 2 hours north of the head office in Manila. CCT offices often have inspirational posters and signs, but I thought this one was very relevant to Kiva.

Kiva lenders have good character: “They lend money to those in need without interest.”

Here are links to updates on some of the borrowers in Caloocan that have benefited from Kiva loans:

Teresa Barola: video game arcade owner

Genie Tabarangao: sari-sari (general) store owner...

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Nov 6, 2009 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Manila, Philippines

After visiting many Kiva CCT borrowers, I noticed a trend that the primary business requiring a loan is not the only source of income. In the Philippines side jobs are referred to as “sidelines” or “extra income”. I have met a teachers who also sell clothing, farmers who rent out their plows to neighbors and a TV repair shop that sells ice in plastic bags during hot months. Of the CCT borrowers I’ve met, about half will have some sort of sideline.

Myrna Valencia used her entire Kiva loan to...

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Oct 29, 2009 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Manila, Philippines

One of the great parts of being a Kiva Fellow in the Philippines is the access it gives you to other countries with relatively inexpensive domestic and international flights. Cebu Pacific is one of a handful of budget airlines in the Philippines that allow you to fly internationally to places like Hong Kong, Taipei and Vietnam for around $100 USD round-trip. You can also fly domestically for less than $40 USD which already came in handy when visiting a branch about a 45 minute flight away.

My favorite part about flights on...

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Oct 14, 2009 PH Philippines

By Prem Thomas, KF9, Manila, Philippines

We bend, but don’t break.” These are the words Lala, the Kiva Coordinator, at the Center for Community Transformation Credit Cooperative (CCT) used to describe the Filipinos who have and will bounce back from the flooding caused by Typhoons Ketsana and Parma. My name is Prem Thomas, and today is my fifth day at the head office of CCT in Manila, Philippines. I spent the last four years working in finance in New York; most recently I was at a civic venture capital fund and previously worked at an investment bank. I will be...

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