Tejal Desai

Fellows Blog Posts by Tejal Desai

Jan 2, 2012 RW Rwanda

By Kiva Fellows in Africa, KF16 Compiled by Tejal Desai, Sierra Leone

Ow de body! Are Sierra Leone and Rwanda still danger zones? What challenges do Ugandans most commonly face? Kiva Fellows from KF16 bring you another unique perspective from the diverse and vast continent of Africa! We patched together an overview of each of our placement countries that includes: basic socioeconomic stats, common stereotypes (and to what extent they are true or false), greatest challenges, most common loan products at our respective field partners, and the borrowers’ most common use of their...

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Dec 31, 2011 KE Kenya

By Kiva Fellows in Africa, KF16 Compiled by Tejal Desai, Sierra Leone

Kiva Fellows from KF16 take on Africa!

Where might you find muzungu hunting? Where do Kenya’s elite runners hail from? And what do most borrowers in Burkina Faso use their business profits for? Kiva Fellows from KF16 bring you a unique perspective from the diverse and vast continent of Africa! We patched together an overview of each of our placement countries that includes: basic socioeconomic...

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Dec 6, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

By Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone boasts lush, tumultuous landscapes, postcard-worthy beaches, delectable home cooking, inspiring stories, and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. I was fortunate to have been placed in Freetown, Sierra Leone for my Kiva Fellowship at BRAC Sierra Leone. Follow my journey through this beautiful country and its capital city, Freetown. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Fish is one of Sierra Leone's abundant resources, with main...

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Dec 1, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

By Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone

Beautiful Freetown sunset

As my Kiva fellowship winds down, I reflect on the memorable journey I’ve been privileged to experience through the Kiva Fellows Program as a member of its 16th class. Through personal revelations and humbling lessons in adaptation, microfinance work, cultural differences (and a unique incidence of malaria), I’ve grown attached to beautiful Sierra Leone. Throughout the fellowship, I’ve found my journey...

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Nov 16, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone

“Microfinance is not aid. This is the common misconception.” The words echoed through my head during a morning meeting at BRAC Sierra Leone’s country office with microfinance representatives from various organizations and banks in Sierra Leone, all present to discuss the state of local microfinance. I learned that an overwhelming majority of these microfinance providers shared a common challenge: scaling microfinance and infusing economic sustainability into an environment dominated by aid and financial dependency.

Aid: What...

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Oct 24, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

By Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone Earlier this year, a Kiva fellow in KF14, David McNeill, wrote about his interaction with a Sierra Leonean taxi driver, and addressed a hot issue in microfinance: the financial donut hole. The driver asked David what type of work he was doing in Sierra Leone, and after David mentioned he was involved with microcredit, the driver expressed, “Ah, that is for women.” In his post, David explains how the driver was mostly right: why the microfinance industry concentrates on lending mostly to women, although there are still a small percentage of men...

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Oct 3, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone

Freetown offers an array of transportation options, each unique with its own thrill and charm.

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, a range of transportation options welcomes you in every street corner, each option varying in safety, price, comfort, and convenience, and a few requiring some degree of hitchhiking. Being a hitchhiking and Freetown transportation novice myself, I had no idea what to expect when local friends and colleagues...

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Sep 12, 2011 SL Sierra Leone

Tejal Desai, KF 16, Sierra Leone

Just over a week ago, I hopped on the back of an okada (motorbike) to head to my first day as a Kiva Fellow at the BRAC Sierra Leone country office in Freetown. I felt like the giddy new kid on the first day of school, equipped with my oversized backpack, thick binder of training materials, and colossal water bottle. I couldn’t wait to dive into my fellowship, learn about BRAC’s work in Sierra Leone, promote sustainability, and meet the amazing people who implement and utilize BRAC’s services. Above all, I couldn’t wait to be a part of...

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