R

Fellows Blog Posts by R

Apr 8, 2009

Wrapping up my six month fellowship with Kiva, I’m not sure how to express that thought any more artfully.   On balance I’ve been inspired by the people I’ve met who, with only meager means, must spend long days at arduous tasks in order to support their families.   But I’ve also had to confront the reality that a life in poverty often means making hard choices every day.   The temptation to judge these decisions can be tempting until you realize that in many cases people have few good options on the table.

In Tajikistan I spent many days in the bazaars and was initially surprised...

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Apr 1, 2009 PH Philippines

When you begin a fellowship, the end of it is the furthest thing from your mind.  When you end it, you can’t believe it’s over already.  And now at the end of it, I have plenty of cocktail party stories about traveling to remote villages, eating strange foods and learning exotic customs.  But they’re only meaningful because I didn’t experience them alone.

I can’t say enough about my great friends at CEV who made me feel as though it were my home.  Whether spending their day showing me around the island, bringing fresh fruit...
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Mar 2, 2009 PH Philippines
By R

KISS is more than just one of the great bands of the last half century (if you disregard the ‘Unmasked’ era), it’s an acronym introduced to me by a grade school teacher which – unlike most of what I learned in school – has stuck with me through the years.  It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Whether it’s in areas of communication, design or organization, the KISS philosophy is sage advice.

I’m fortunate enough to have internet access in my apartment here in the Philippines and I had high hopes for networking my WiFi-enabled cell phone and...

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Feb 7, 2009 PH Philippines

I really struggled for a catchy title on this post but failed miserably.  Hang in there – I promise it gets better.

One of the nagging questions I’ve always had about microfinance is – how does it scale?  It’s particularly relevant here in the Philippines where Community Economic Venture’s (CEV) maximum loan is $450.  A typical loan officer has about 350 clients who are often scattered across the countryside down dirt roads in distant communities.  On a recent trip to Mindanao I had an opportunity to find out the nuts and bolts of how your dollars reach...

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Feb 7, 2009 PH Philippines

I really struggled for a catchy title on this post but failed miserably.  Hang in there – I promise it gets better.

One of the nagging questions I’ve always had about microfinance is – how does it scale?  It’s particularly relevant here in the Philippines where Community Economic Venture’s (CEV) maximum loan is $450.  A typical loan officer has about 350 clients who are often scattered across the countryside down dirt roads in distant communities.  On a recent trip to Mindanao I had an opportunity to find out the nuts and bolts of how your dollars reach...

Continue Reading >>


Jan 20, 2009 PH Philippines

Sipping coffee in the lobby of the Metro Centre Hotel, I waited patiently to be greeted by my new co-workers from Community Economic Ventures (CEV) here in Tagbilaran.  I assumed I would be easy to spot – lone white guy with luggage – but some 20 minutes past our designated meeting time I started to get worried.  As it turns out, they had been doing some worrying of their own while they waited in the opposite lobby just out of sight.  We may have started off with a stumble, but otherwise things here are off to a running start.

CEV is headquartered here in Tagbilaran City...

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Dec 22, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

It’s 5am and the electricity has just come back on here in my Khujand apartment. I know because the sheet metal of the ‘70’s era space heater plugged into the wall has started to creak and crack as it warms. I’m not typically up at this hour but it’s D-day – my departure – and I’m anxious to get started on the 3 day, 5 country journey back home. Today Tajikistan to Uzbekistan, tomorrow Uzbekistan to Moscow to Amsterdam, and finally Amsterdam to… America.

I’ve grown accustomed now to calling my homeland, ‘America.’ Early on here I didn’t know what...

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Dec 1, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

It was a typical Sunday in Khujand. I slept late until 9am and wandered out for some breakfast and tea. I haven’t quite mastered the art of making instant coffee (ground coffee is non-existent) so I just don’t bother. I’ve had it in restaurants and with the right mix of crystals, sugar and water it’s not bad. A few minutes later the power clicked off. The daughter of the family I’m staying with said what I was pretty much thinking – “just another typical weekend in Tajikistan.”

There’s really not a lot to do here and even less with no...

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Nov 13, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

Having researched Tajikistan’s economy prior to arriving here, I had a difficult time reconciling the numbers.  It has a literacy rate of 95% and fairly high costs of goods like a developed country yet exceptionally low per capita incomes of some $340 similar to those of the poorest in the world.  How does an educated population earn so little yet pay for goods clearly beyond its reach?

It is the Soviet legacy which has left most of the population over the age of 30 with a reasonably good education.  Mothers and fathers subsisted on moderate civil servant salaries at the...

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Sep 18, 2008 TJ Tajikistan

I’ve been immersed in the mission this week – San Francisco’s Mission district.  Block after colorful block surrounds Kiva’s office at 18th and Folsom where we’ve been gathered just prior to our departures throughout the world.  And while you can find virtually any type of cuisine in the area – from Salvadoran to Vietnamese to Senegalese – it’s really all about the burritos.  Last night’s sampling was a bulging toasty tortilla jammed with spicy al pastor courtesy of El Farolito on 24th and Mission.  Taqueria Cancun is just a short 5...

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