taylorakin

Fellows Blog Posts by taylorakin

Aug 27, 2010 TG Togo

Amelegan Amegningnon; a smiling WAGES entrepreneur

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

I began writing this blog on a scrap piece of paper just north of the Burkinabé/Ghanaian border. I had spent my morning walking across the border carrying a 40-pound pack and subsequently spending far too much money on a taxi into the nearest town. My Kiva Fellowship had ended a week and a half earlier, and I was sitting in a hot, dirty hotel room with a concrete floor, grimy walls, and inconsistent...

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Apr 3, 2010 TG Togo

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

Sleep-deprived and over-heated, I sat in front of the fan in the loan officers’ room. I had been waiting for a loan officer at the WAGES branch office in Hédzranawoé for over an hour and sat unmoving as the room buzzed with activity all around me. Loan officers ran in and out, clients sat down and stood up, phones rang and calls were made, passbooks opened and closed, pencils scratched paper, sweat stained foreheads. I looked at the loan officer sitting across the desk opposite me. Adam is one of the kindest people I have met since my time here at...

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Mar 15, 2010 TG Togo

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

On Thursday March 4th, the second Togolese presidential elections were held since the death of President Eyadéma Gnassingbé in 2005. After 38 years of uninterrupted rule, his son Faure assumed the presidency. Shortly thereafter, he held superfluous elections that resulted in a “democratic” confirmation of his leadership. The country erupted in civil unrest under the pretense of false electoral results, and hundreds were killed in the resulting violence.

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Jan 29, 2010 TG Togo

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

There is a lot of hype surrounding microfinance.  For some, microfinance is an effective tool used to promote large-scale poverty alleviation. For others, it is simply considered a way for moderately poor individuals to better their own situations. If you’re reading this blog, you likely fit somewhere on this spectrum of belief that microfinance does at least some good. While the degree to which microfinance impacts the lives of the poor is often debated, the hype remains fairly constant. But can microfinance really live up to the publicity that...

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Jan 15, 2010 TG Togo

This is as close as I can get to looking Togolese!

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

It’s amazing how identity can be so malleable. In a matter of hours, a person can be transformed from local to foreigner, fluent to fumbling, familiar to fascinating, and even from black to white. Anyone who has ever travelled even just a couple hours outside their hometown has experienced this shift. The change in identity may happen to varying degrees, but its unpredictability...

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Jan 1, 2010 TG Togo

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

Picture yourself on a bike riding along a beach. Nice image, isn’t it?

A typical main street in Lome

Now, swap the bike for a motorcycle fishtailing in the sand and replace the crashing waves with revving engines and honking cars. Add dust in your eyes, the smell of exhaust in your nose, and about 30 degrees of heat and you’ve come close to the daily journey of a loan officer in Lomé, Togo.

I know I’m not the first to...

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Dec 17, 2009 TG Togo

Women and Associations for Gain both Economic and Social (WAGES). My host MFI for the next 4 months.

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

As I sat in Charles de Gaulle airport waiting for my flight to Lomé, I had already begun to feel out of place. My hair was carelessly sitting around my shoulders, I was wearing old yoga pants and a new pair of Converse, and I was munching on my mother’s half-squished Christmas cake. I looked around me at the crowd gathering to board the...

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Nov 13, 2009 TG Togo

Me and the other Africa-based Kiva Fellows (photo provided by John Briggs)

By Taylor Akin, KF9, Togo

In the months of preparation leading up to my Kiva Fellowship in Lomé, Togo I have had plenty of opportunity to practice my take on the taxicab test – a concise explanation of Kiva’s mission and the work of a Kiva Fellow. Upon completing my training at Kiva Headquarters in San Francisco, I felt confident in my ability to accurately explain Kiva’s...

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