Fellows Blog Posts by zalzally

Dec 3, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Zal Bilimoria, KF9, Ecuador

Ecuador’s 14.5 million residents and their predecessors have experienced much instability in the form of economic strain, political transitions and social unrest. Despite 35 years of civilian government and, for the most part, democratically elected leaders, Ecuador still struggles to improve the livelihoods of the nearly 40% of Ecuadorians that live below the poverty line established by the World Bank. Ten years ago, Ecuador suffered a major economic crisis, forcing the government to abandon its domestic currency and adopt the US dollar...

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Nov 16, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Zal Bilimoria, KF9, Ecuador

Ecuadorian cheese tastes a bit different if one is not accustomed to eating it. Cheese is not necessarily the most common ingredient in local fare, as the staple for most meals is rice, plantains and beans served with beef, chicken or some other type of meat. However, it’s unmistakeable when you take that first bite of pizza, pasta or ham and cheese sandwich…especially if it hasn’t been refrigerated properly due to the energy crisis sweeping the country.

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Nov 7, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Zal Bilimoria, KF9, Ecuador

Over the past four weeks here in Ecuador, I’ve had the opportunity to see much of the country, starting out in Quito working at Fundacion ESPOIR’s administrative office, and now in Portoviejo near the coast to conduct borrower verifications and write journal updates, among other tasks.  Since Ecuador is a relatively small country (roughly the size of Nevada), it’s easy to travel by plane or bus, usually within 4-6 hours to most major cities. This past weekend Kiva Fellow Kimia Raafat and I made our way to Cuenca for the long...

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Oct 14, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Zal Bilimoria, KF9 Ecuador

Let me start off by saying that I think everything will be fine.  Everyone is safe – no injuries but a few terrified souls.  I wish I had brought my camera with me, but we were told to leave instantly.  It all started when Rocio – the Kiva Coordinator at Fundacion ESPOIR in Quito responsible for uploading loans from the branch offices to – was showing me the painstaking manner for how she uses a combination of Excel spreadsheets, a scratch piece of paper and a calculator to upload the monthly repayments of ESPOIR’s borrowers from the...

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Sep 23, 2009 EC Ecuador

By Zal, KF9 Ecuador

Good day, folks.  My name is Zal, and this Friday, September 25, I’ll officially be anointed a Kiva Fellow for the KF9 Class bound for Ecuador working with Fundacion ESPOIR!  It’s been an absolutely wonderful experience meeting all the Kiva Fellows this week at the Kiva HQ in San Francisco, CA.

I’ve been working as a Product Manager at YouTube for the past two years and will be taking a three-month leave for my fellowship.  Previously, I spent three years at Microsoft in Seattle working on Windows anti-piracy in China and Brazil...

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