Stephanie

Fellows Blog Posts by Stephanie

Oct 30, 2009 SL Sierra Leone

By Ibrahim Oumarr Jalloh, Kiva Coordinator, Salone Microfinance Trust, Sierra Leone

There is a lot of wealth at the top of a palm-tree.  Many would like to reap the benefits it possesses.

The palm-wine taper wants the palm-wine, the palm-oil producer wants the palm-oil, the mats designers and broom makers want the palm-leaves – even the snakes and rats want to feed from the palm fruits.

There are no rules about who is allowed to try to climb and reach the top of the palm tree to get what they want, but it is clear,...

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May 5, 2009 UG Uganda

At the beginning of April, Grace and I began an effort to decentralize the Kiva process at Pearl. This is the formal way of saying that we planned to visit the branches and carry out a training program that would make the Kiva process such that we would no longer be required to rip our skirts, miss spending time with our families and friends and spend 4-8 hours per day bumping along the roads of Uganda in taxis (the minibuses that Grace wrote about in a previous post).

One of...

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Apr 14, 2009 UG Uganda

Sometimes, when interviewing the entrepreneurs from Pearl Microfinance, Uganda, I am startled to discover how many businesses they have. They are teachers with a few milk cows on the side, or used clothing salespeople who also keep pigs, or farmers who also raise cassava, matoke, and chickens! These ‘super entrepreneurs’ amaze me, but I am always left wondering why do they choose to have so many businesses. Wouldn’t it be better for them to focus just one? Each cycle they could inject all their loan money into one business and it would take off!

As is typical when I am making...

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Apr 3, 2009 UG Uganda

Thank you for all the loans you make to Kiva. As a Kiva Fellow, I get the joy of receiving the gratitude that is truly meant for all of you.

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of meeting Florence Musola at a loan disbursement for the Balikyewunya Borrower’s Group. She was one of the first members to arrive at the meeting, so we were able to carry out a lengthy interview while the other members trickled in. It was fortunate that we got started early because Florence had lots to tell us about being a florist in Kampala, Uganda.

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Mar 27, 2009 UG Uganda

To understand the interest rate that Pearl Microfinance charges its clients takes more than a brief look at a few numbers.

If you ask someone at Pearl what the interest rate is on Pearl loans, they will tell you “2.5%.” This means that there is a 2.5% per month interest rate. 2.5% interest is charged on the original loan amount rather than the balance remaining – in technical terms this is a flat interest rate rather than a declining interest rate. With a flat interest rate, over in a year, the clients would be charged 30% of the original loan size, and with the declining balance...

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Mar 15, 2009 UG Uganda

In a previous post, I mentioned that many clients of microfinance pledge real items not just their reputations as collateral on their loans. (Please see “A message from Uganda” for a more in depth discussion of the idea.) A comment was made that asked a few interesting questions. I started to directly reply on the post, but realized that the answers were long and that they might be interesting to others.

(As a side note — those of us who are writing on this Blog love hearing your comments on our postings. Please comment if you are so inspired, especially if you have...

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Mar 9, 2009 UG Uganda

Last week I had my first trip to the field. I traveled with Grace, the Kiva Coordinator here at Pearl Microfinance, to two branches in western Uganda, Lugazi and Jinja. Lugazi is about 2 hours away from the office and Jinja is about 40 minutes down the road and across the Nile from Lugazi.

The area between Kampala and these two areas looks shockingly like New England. Having spent many of my summers driving through the wooded areas of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, I found myself drifting back to blueberry pancakes for breakfast as I sat sweating from the heat and close...

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Feb 25, 2009 UG Uganda

After years of international travel riddled with complications, I think that I have just experienced my most dramatic journey yet. About two weeks ago, I left Boston to travel to work with Pearl Microfinance in Kampala, Uganda. I had planned to land in Nairobi on Tuesday and then spend three days in Nairobi before traveling to Kampala Friday evening.

All went as planned. As I have lived in Nairobi before, my time there was spent visiting old friends and meeting all the new babies! Despite my happy time in Nairobi, as I headed to the airport Friday evening I was thrilled to...

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Feb 8, 2009 UG Uganda

Hello Kiva Supporters!  My name is Stephanie Koczela, and I am ecstatic to be headed to Uganda to spend three months with an MFI called Pearl Microfinance Limited.  I am writing to you today from a bus traveling from New York to Boston.  I am amused to be writing to you from this bus as it is running on a smooth road, has plugs for computer cords in each seat, and even has high speed wireless internet – it seems a far reach from the conditions I imagine I will be living in the upcoming months…

I am traveling back to Boston, where I currently live, to finish up a...

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Feb 8, 2009 UG Uganda

Hello Kiva Supporters!  My name is Stephanie Koczela, and I am ecstatic to be headed to Uganda to spend three months with an MFI called Pearl Microfinance Limited.  I am writing to you today from a bus traveling from New York to Boston.  I am amused to be writing to you from this bus as it is running on a smooth road, has plugs for computer cords in each seat, and even has high speed wireless internet – it seems a far reach from the conditions I imagine I will be living in the upcoming months…

I am traveling back to Boston, where I currently live, to finish up a...

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