Posts filed under ‘KF16 (Kiva Fellows 16th Class)’
Update from the Field: Life as a Fellow in San Francisco, a walk through an art fair + becoming part of a winning soccer team
Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18 | Bolivia
On this week’s update we have a great collection of posts describing some of our Kiva Fellows’ Class 18 arrival to their new and exciting field assignments. But first, we are treated to an article from an out-going fellow who takes us on a visually-pleasing journey through Mexico’s largest artisan fair. This week’s journey also takes us to Kosovo and to its capital Pristina, where we will learn more about this small new state in the Balkans. Then its off to Peru, where we are given the opportunity to learn more about Kiva’s goal of creating a global link between lenders and borrowers by examining one example: promoting community development through team sports. Yey for soccer! Finally, the narrative wouldn’t be complete without a Kiva’d up take on The Real World which you should read if you have always wondered what the famed week of fellows’ training in Kiva Headquarters, San Francisco is like. Enjoy!
By Kimberly Strathearn, KF 16/17, Turkey
Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” Anonymous
National Volunteer Week 2012 (April 15-21) has come and gone and despite my best intentions to post this blog during that week–it didn’t happen. But that does not mean I appreciate our SUPER Maya volunteers any less, in fact, I am going to use this blog as the perfect chance to brag about some of the individuals and schools that volunteer for Maya. Some translate Maya Entrepreneur Profiles and Journal Updates from Turkish to English while others help out with more technical translations or other projects.
When I first started my Fellowship back in September 2011 with KF 16, I immediately recognized that since Maya is such a small program, the Kiva Coordinator is out in the field 3-4 days a week, and none of the loan officers speak English, we were going to need some help getting the profiles and journal updates translated.
Through some groups I belong to here in Istanbul, I sent out some notices seeking volunteers. I was blown away by the response but shouldn’t have been because I know that volunteer opportunities can be hard to find and a logistical nightmare (traffic and Istanbul is a large city).
So without further delay, let’s see who are some of the volunteers that are vital to helping Maya and what they do:
Update from the Field: Introducing joinFITE.org, a new platform designed to empower women in entrepreneurship
Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 | Ecuador
Welcome to this week’s brief update from the field. As this class of fellows’ time in the field wraps up we have a post by Kimberly Strathearn (KF 16/17, Turkey) who tells us about FITE, a new website powered by Kiva and supported by the leading skin care brand Dermatologica. Read Kimberly’s article Retail Consumers as Micro Lenders + What is FITE? + Maya Entrepreneurs Supported by FITE on to learn about this exciting new lending platform that focuses exclusively on female entrepreneurship. Don’t forget to also check out last week’s Update From the Field in order to catch up on some more of KF-17′s last minute adventures, retrospectives, and lessons learned.
Compiled by Kiyomi Beach | KF17 | Mexico
Whether shaking off the chill of winter, welcoming the rainy season, or experiencing any other climate change, the spring can definitely be a time to celebrate. Some countries celebrate big which can mean local business owners have a surge in income from selling items related to the festivities. Sales for new clothes, fabrics for costumes, candies, and specialty foods increase, which give some Kiva borrowers an extra reason to celebrate.
While we may all be familiar with some holidays or festivals, each culture celebrates what may seam like a familiar holiday differently. Some countries have celebrations that are uniquely their own, with the common threads being are family and fun. Lets see how a few of the fellows celebrated.
Due to the threat and risk of rejected loan applicant’s falling prey to predatory lenders, Credo is launching an innovative new program to bring Kiva Loans to these most vulnerable borrowers. With the development of Credo’s Poverty Score Card, a complex matrix of variables are measured to define an individual client. If it is determined the client’s application was recently rejected primarily due to an absence or lack of business income and their repayment capacity; they may yet qualify for a loan with Credo.
Kimberly Strathearn | KF 16 | Istanbul, Turkey
Although you will find many familiar fast food restaurants in Turkey, I have never understood why they are popular. Turkish food is just too darn good. When I first started living in Turkey in 1998, there was very little western fast food, very little packaged junk food, and very little prepared foods (i.e. bottled sauces, frozen vegetable, mixes and other packaged foods). I used to bring back lots of food items when I visited my family once a year. Now I only bring back chili powder for when I occasionally make tacos (don’t have to bring tortillas back anymore, Turkey now grows avocados, and I substitute fresh yogurt for sour cream).
Andrew Huelsenbeck| KF16 | Kampala, Uganda
Life is not easy for a lot of young women in Uganda. Many girls in poorer urban areas and in rural villages are regularly confronted with sexual assault, unwanted or unintended pregnancies, HIV, and the list goes on. These girls are also commonly forced to drop out of school early because they can no longer pay fees or because they need to help support their families. With these kinds of hardships, young girls are often trapped in poverty with few, if any, opportunities to develop independence and improve their lives.
Enter BRAC. Four years ago, BRAC Uganda began to address some of these problems by implementing what they call the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescence Program (ELA Program). The program is designed specifically “to improve the quality of the life of vulnerable adolescents by organizing them, creating spaces of their own and helping them develop a set of skills so that they can live and grow as confident, empowered and self reliant individuals contributing to change in their own families and communities.”
Because it is set up to achieve so many ambitious goals, the ELA program can seem fairly complex at first glance. In this blog post, I want to outline how the program is organized and talk a little bit about some of the social components of the ELA clubs. And in the next blog post, I’ll talk more about the finance components of the ELA program and about the impact of the program overall.
General Organization of ELA
Meet Barbara. She works extremely hard to train ELA staff and to develop materials for the program. She has also been with the ELA program from the beginning and has an excellent grasp on how the program functions and on how far it has come. In the video below, I asked her about what she’s currently working on and about some of the major changes she has seen in the program over the years. Check it out:
As Barbara said in the video, the ELA program has expanded significantly in the past few years and as a result, has become much more decentralized. A colleague at BRAC once joked with me: “anyone who says they understand everything that’s going on with the organization is crazy.” Yet somehow, the program functions with uncanny efficiency.
Each ELA girl is a member of a local club, which is organized and managed by a mentor. There are currently a total 785 clubs, which are located all across Uganda. In general, clusters of about 10-15 clubs are linked to Branch Offices based on proximity. Each branch office has a Project Assistant who is responsible for supervising all of the clubs associated with the branch and for helping the clubs to strengthen their relationships with surrounding communities. The Project Assistants report directly to the Area Coordinators, who are responsible for overseeing a handful of Branch Offices in a specific district. Area Coordinators report to Regional Coordinators, who then report to the Uganda Program Manager. The program manager is responsible for overseeing all big-picture aspects of the program and is stationed mainly at the BRAC Country Office in Kampala.
The ELA microfinance, which is recent addition to the ELA program, requires some additional staff members. At the branch level, there are Credit Officers, who are tasked with overseeing all the financial components of the program. ELA microfinance also has its own set of Area Coordinators, who are responsible for managing microfinance at multiple branches and must be present at all loan disbursements. The microfinance Area Coordinators also report to the Regional Managers and to the Program Manager. Every month, all of the Area Coordinators meet with the Program Manager at the Country Office to review the performance of their clubs and to discuss how to improve the program.
The space used for the program consists mainly of extensions of community member’s houses, or of public buildings rented by BRAC from local governments. This is the main space where club members and mentors meet six afternoons per week. The clubs also use community sports fields for certain athletic activities.
How to Join
The requirements to join a club aren’t strict at all. Any girl between 13 and 21 years old, who is a permanent citizen of Uganda and who can pay the 2,000 UGX (~$0.80) admission fee can join. All she really has to do is approach the local club’s mentor and ask.
The Social Components of ELA Clubs
One thing that is emphasized over and over again when discussing the ELA program with BRAC management is community involvement. From what I was able to gather, this happens in mainly two ways. The first way is called a mothers forum. Once, every two weeks or so, the Project Assistant from the branch will get together with the mothers of club members to discuss the club programs and things that the mothers can do to help empower their daughters. Another way that the community is involved with ELA clubs is through community leaders’ workshops. These are events where prominent female figures from the community visit a club to talk to the girls about sexual health, life challenges or a host of other topics.
Life Skills Based Education
The ELA program also provides girls with resources to learn more about life challenges and how to overcome them. The clubs focus on a wide range of topics including reproductive health, menstruation, familial and community responsibility, leadership, bride price, early pregnancy, STIs, family planning and rape. Mentors will normally focus on one aspect of one of these topics every day, and occasionally guest speakers will come to the clubs to give presentations to the girls. BRAC has also published books on each of these topics consisting of general advice and collections of stories from the lives of ELA girls.
Just below is a kind of introductory story from BRAC’s book on family planning. It’s called “Tough Times,” and is mainly about a young, 20-year-old woman named Stella and her struggle through her second pregnancy. It emphasizes the importance of leaving time between births.
Last year, in 2009, I got married to Mike, a bicycle cyclist. I’m now five months pregnant. I was forced into marriage because my parents never wanted to stay with a pregnant woman. I had long stopped studying due to lack of finances at home.
Mike stayed in a remote village. Once in a while, when a vehicle passed, every one waited in anticipation of their relative. City people are claimed to be rich since they always carry with them so many gifts. In the village the main source of livelihood is agriculture and most of the farming done is for consumption.
As it was my first pregnancy, I lacked knowledge on how to care for myself. Friends, however, encouraged me to visit the health centre for checkups.
Throughout the pregnancy, I visited the health centre only once. The long distance discouraged me form frequenting the place. I also lacked the money to receive the medical attention I needed. As a result, a traditional birth attendant helped me to give birth to my first child. She was easily available and cheap.
Much as Mike tried so hard to meet every need of the family, the poor man failed. To make matters worse, I conceived again after ten months. This also affected our daughter so much. She was ever sick and crying. I also stopped breast feeding her since e I was down with morning sicknesses and the general discomfort that comes with pregnancy. Eating also became a problem since we could only afford one meal a day.
When it reached birth, Mike was able to gather some money to transport me to the health centre. I delivered with the help of the nurse, but I faced severe complications. I almost bled to death. I was weak and anemic. My baby looked so sick that I doubted his survival. My daughter was stunted. Having two children in a couple of years was too much for me and it also strained my husband a lot.
The nurse advised me to go back for postnatal care, with my husband. She later explained that child birth was the most risky incidence and a threat to the woman’s health and that of her baby. She emphasized the need for birth spacing if we were to take good care of our children’s health and needs.
When the nurse had finished talking, it surprised me that I was so ignorant about family planning methods and birth spacing. Use of contraceptives would give me enough time to properly heal and properly take care of myself and the children before getting unexpected pregnancy.
Since then, I have learned to use contraceptives. I plan on waiting for my two children to properly grow before I conceive again. It is also important that I get a job so that I can supplement on Mike’s income. This will help us to properly take care of our family and keep it happy.
To me, the club activities are in a big way the heart of the ELA program. They afford the ELA girls a daily opportunity to take a break from adversity, to talk about their experiences and to learn from one another.
Towards the end of my fellowship, I was lucky enough to visit the Kanyanya Club in the Zanna district in Kampala. Just before lunch one day, I hop on the back of a boda boda and speed just a few kilometers up the road to the main traffic hub in Zanna. I pick up two oily, floury pancakes called chapattis for lunch, then march off of the main road, back into the Zanna “slums” to find the Branch Office. I get a little lost on the winding backroads, but am only a few minutes late – Uganda style.
Once at the office, I am greeted warmly by the Project Assistant and an Area Manager I’ve met before. The three of us travel up about two kilometers of steep, dusty roads in the hot afternoon sun. It would have been much easier to take a boda boda, but the project assistant had recently been in an accident and really didn’t want to take any more chances. Just as I think I am running out of steam, we reach the top of a huge incline, descend down a short lane with lots of tree shade, and finally arrive at the club house.
It’s around two o’clock, and more and more girls filter in over the next hour. Many of the members aren’t around because they’ve gone to visit family in the villages for the holiday, and many of the girls that show up are also a bit drained from the intense heat of the sun. We still have a great time playing board games and dancing. Fortunately, I have my Flipcam and am able to grab some great footage of the club house and of the girls. Enjoy!
Andrew Huelsenbeck is a Kiva Fellow who worked in Kampala with BRAC Uganda. To learn more about BRAC, please visit their Kiva Partner Page. If you are interested in helping to empower one or more of BRAC’s many wonderful entrepreneurs, you can join the Friends of BRAC Uganda lending team or check out new BRAC Uganda loans on Kiva.org. Happy lending!
Compiled by Laurie Young, KF16, Indonesia
Last week you read about about what six of the fellows from KF16 were doing once their fellowships ended. Read on to see what adventures 2012 will bring to some more!
Not every Kiva Fellow is from the United States. So there is a chance that being placed as a Kiva Fellow In New Orleans, Louisiana, USA will be an opportunity to travel to a foreign country. For me that isn’t the case, but I am relishing living here for the next three months in all of the Southern Comfort that NOLA has to offer. If you are an American, you don’t need a passport, a visa, shots, malaria meds, Medex insurance or to register with US Embassy upon your arrival. Everyone here speaks English, there’s electricity, running potable water and good Internet connectivity. The best part is they take US dollars!
All kidding aside, Kiva New Orleans is great. The “MFI” (Microfinance Institution) with which I am working is ASI Federal Credit Union and its community partner, GoodWork Network, a nonprofit microbusiness development agency that helps ASI to source microloans.
Goodwork Network assists small and start-up businesses with classes and advice helping New Orleans’ residents advance their operations to the point where, if it is determined they need a loan, they can be passed on to ASI and then to Kiva. It’s an amazing program. I have only been here a week and I have met dozens of individuals working tirelessly to make this Kiva City NOLA program work. There’s even a television ad.
From day one I fell in love with this city and its residents. I was won over immediately. Back in San Feancisco, during the Kiva Fellows Training week, the Kiva staff devoted some time to “Winning Over your MFI,” because in some placements the Kiva fellow is ignored or under appreciated. Things were easy for me in the Big Easy. Not only was I welcomed with open arms on my first day, I was given a car to use while I am here. Many apologies to my KF-16 & 17 classmates — you can think of me when you are traveling on over-crowded public buses and unpaved roads. (I feel for you — been there, done that.)
I split my time between the Goodwork Network office and ASI’s Community Center in the Bywater area of N’Awlins. There’s much work to be done as evidenced by the houses surrounding the Community Center. They still have the large X’s painted on them by the first responders after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The X’s were a code that the building was searched, who searched it, the date it was searched and whether anyone was found inside, dead or alive. It’s a bleak reminder of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that the X’s are still visible means that we all still have a lot of work to do. If you are an small business owner in New Orleans and are thinking about a Kiva loan got to <a href=”http://KivaNOLA.org” target=”_blank”>KivaNOLA.org</a> and click on “to borrow” button. If you want to lend, go to the same place and click on the “to lend” button.
Kiva Fellow | New Orleans
Charlotte is a Kiva Fellow in KF-16, the 16th Kiva Fellows Class, with ASI Federal Credit Union and is now living in New Orleans. Charlotte has lived in India, Japan, and has built houses with Habitat For Humanity in Ethiopia, Zambia and India.
For more information about Kiva,<a title=”Kiva” href=”http://kiva.org”> click here</a>. To read about ASI Federal Credit Union, <a title=”ASI” href=”http://asifcu.org”>click here</a>. You can also follow Kiva New Orleans on facebook, join the <a href=”http://www.kiva.org/team/nola”>Kiva New Orleans lending team</a>.
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By Kate Bennett, KF15 Ecuador / KF16 Perú
After my first placement in Ecuador, I thought I knew living and working in South America- three months in Ica, Perú proved me wrong. New (and delicious) food, a drastically different (and drier) climate, and wonderful new friends, coworkers, and chicha-vending Kiva borrowers showed me another side of South America’s many amazing countries and cultures. As I phase out of my second fellowship back into the real world, I want to share these photos, and photos from my first placement in Ecuador, with you lenders and give thanks to KFP and Perú for an amazing fellowship experience! Click the photos to see them enlarged!
Kate Bennett (KF16) is thrilled to be working in Ica, Peru with Kiva Field Partner Caja Rural Señor de Luren. For more on Kate’s experiences with Caja Rural Señor de Luren or life in Peru, follow her work here.
By Kiva Fellows in Africa, KF16
Compiled by Tejal Desai
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 profits. Our part 2 series follows the Kiva Fellows through Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda. We hope our summaries give you a new perspective on the continent and its distinct countries that we’ve been fortunate to explore, thanks to the Kiva fellowship!
Compiled by Laurie Young, KF16, Indonesia
I know! We can’t believe it either! Our Kiva Fellowships, as the 16th class, have come to an end. So what’s in store for us once we return to our homes? Or perhaps, stay in the field for another fellowship? Read on for the next chapter in the lives of some of the 16th Class of Kiva Fellows Alumni.
Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF16 Peru
The sixteenth class of Kiva Fellows has all but left the field- but we’re by no means done talking about our experiences. We’ve collectively spent 422 weeks in the field (just over 8 years!) and worked an estimated 16,650 hours at Kiva field partners around the world. Needless to say, we’ve got a lot of opinions about how to use this time wisely.
Now, we’re no experts in living or working abroad (though we sure do like it), but we have some nuggets of wisdom to offer up for those of you transitioning into a life abroad or beginning your next Kiva Fellowship. Stick by these tips, and you can’t go wrong. (And for more hints and tips, check out 33 Tips from Kiva Fellows (written November 2009) or 45 More Tips from Kiva Fellows in South America.) Enjoy!
By Eric Rindal – KF 16 – Bolivia
Before I volunteered as a Kiva Fellow in Sierra Leone (May of 2011) and Bolivia (September 2011), I was living in Santa Barbara, California. Imagine: Santa Barbara beaches saturated with color, mansions with the smell of jasmine twisting through the air, and a pace of life only to be set by the sun. While there, I was working for a de jure artist and took up the ranks as a de facto artist myself. Life was pretty easy, and moving to a developing country and working with microfinance seemed a million miles away. Leaving it all made me wonder why I would forfeit the comfort and normalcy of home for places where it feels like I have to relearn basic parts of life (i.e. restroom, showers, and food).
While volunteering, I was often asked , “Why would you come volunteer in my country?” Each time, I rambled about a desire to foster opportunities in the development of people around the world. But that is just it, how concise can pre-volunteers really be? (more…)
By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador
Institutional birthdays in the US can be fairly stuffy affairs. Seating is often arranged to maximize contact with those in the institution with whom one has never spoken (perhaps for good reason, argue some guests) and they tend to be remembered more for inappropriate comments inserted into otherwise boring speeches rather than for the celebrations that they hope to be but rarely are.
Not so at the Cooperativa San Jose de Chimbo (CSJ). Instead of standing around awkwardly, everyone secretly wishing they were somewhere else, the 47th birthday of CSJ (conveniently combined with the office Xmas party) was a chaotic and energetic no-holds-barred inter-office Karaoke war. This post includes video evidence…
By Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda
In the first part of this blog series, I shared pictures of Malian borrowers. But even on my way to those borrowers, I was not able to put down my camera. Here are my favorite shots from the road.
Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda
December has long been the month of annual awards, looking back and frantic searches for presents. The Kiva fellows blog is no exception to this rule: Share the fellows’ memories by taking a photographic journey through Sierra Leone and watching a video about a typical day of a fellow conducting loan officer trainings. Learn about some incredible women in Costa Rica, who received a Woman Entrepreneur Award from Kiva’s field partner, Fundación Mujer. And to avoid the frantic searches this year, consider surprising your loved ones with the gift that keeps on giving, the Kiva Gift Card.
In the United States, it was ushered in on Friday the 25th of November in the wee hours of the morning. Here in Ica, Perú, it is manifested in the towering polyethylene Christmas tree and tinsel-adorned telephone booths in the Plaza del Sol shopping mall. Around the world, in many forms, it’s upon us: the season of giving.
And every year in the Bennett family, we duke it out to see just who can give the most responsibly: we exchange goats through Heifer International, carbon credits through Carbon Fund, and donations to NPR and Wikipedia. That is, until several years ago when we discovered the apogee of responsible giving: the Kiva Card