Posts filed under ‘KF18 (Kiva Fellows 18th Class)’

0% Interest student loans! YSBS – Indonesia

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Dewi, pictured here in her grandmother’s shop, is studying accounting but wants to be a novelist. I say do BOTH!

Amazing things are happening at Yayasan Sosial Bina Sejahtera (YSBS,) a very new member to the Kiva partner family. First, I’ll give you a little background on the organization.  YSBS has been around since 1976, and their main activity is assistance to educate young people at all levels and ages.  They believe that education is a major key to lifting future generations out of poverty.  Kiva is instrumental in allowing YSBS to expand their Vocational School loan program allowing students who most likely would have dropped out of school, to stay in and get better jobs after graduation.

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Arda is on the bike with me, the tall white guy, with Titiek on her own bike.

The founder of YSBS, Father Charlie, is an older, but very energetic, Irish priest who has dedicated his life to working with the people of Cilicap for almost 40 years!  Speaking with him is nothing short of inspirational, and seeing the fruits of his labour is truly humbling.

This program that YSBS wants to expand – with Kiva’s help – is Vocational School student loans.  Father Charlie has data showing that currently 30,000 students finish Junior High, but only 14,000 of those finish Senior High in the local, Cilacap area.  And sadly, it is the small fees for education that keep these 16,000 students out of a chance for a better paying job and a hand up out of poverty.

How it works is that a loan for one of these students is posted to the Kiva website and when funded the money gets sent to YSBS.  But, YSBS has designed a system that allows the student to pay 0% interest.  The full amount of 11,000,000 IDR (about $1,175 USD) goes to pay for 3 years of uniforms, tests, books and school fees in every form.  This 11,000,000 IDR pays for school fees and the interest earned (right now secured at 8%!) goes to repaying the loan back for the student.  The money is working for the student to assist them in paying back to full loan amount!

We are still ironing out all the intricacies of this system but at YSBS it is clear that the ultimate benefit to the student is paramount.  Currently there are no loans fundraising for YSBS but stay tuned for more loans from this exciting new partner!

Jon Hiebert is a 3rd term Kiva fellow who has worked with Kiva in Mongolia, Uganda and now in Indonesia.  YSBS is the current organization he is assisting, where the staff is so friendly and passionate about what they do.  When he’s not working, you may see him on his quest to find the best Gado-Gado in town! (traditional Indonesian dish of steamed veggies and white bean hashbrowns smothered in peanut sauce.) 

11 December 2012 at 08:00 1 comment

VIDEO – Kiva loans to sick ex-sugarcane workers in Nicaragua

by Luan Nio | KF18 Nicaragua | KF19 San Diego, USA

It’s November and the sugar cane cutting season has started in Nicaragua.

Even though I am back in my comfortable home in the US, I can’t stop thinking about the men all over Centroamerica who are now working the fields. They know they will develop Chronic Kidney Disease one day or another, often leading to dialysis, kidney transplantation and sometimes death. Yet the poverty level and scarce job opportunities in their region leave them with no other choice.

Read about it in a previous post I wrote About Nicaragua beer and rum – brought to you by Kiva clients.

Kiva now facilitates loans to these sick cane workers and the families they have left behind. You can lend to an ex-cane worker in Nicaragua here.

25 November 2012 at 21:24

Expectations, (harsh) realities, engagement and innovation

Diana Biggs | KF 18 | Burkina Faso

I’d like to think the title of this post sums up my experience in Burkina Faso – perhaps even both professional and personally. I’ll focus on the former here and try to take you through my journey.

Expectations: As a Kiva Fellow, it’s likely you’re a Type A (if on the quirky end), dedicated, well-traveled, highly educated young person, perhaps an experienced professional looking to Pivot (see Patrick’s post for more on that) or mid-studies in a Masters program. Whilst maintaining the flexible state of mind necessary for the field – many in our class were paired with new Field Partners, some in countries where Kiva staff had yet to visit – there are naturally certain expectations or goals set for this commitment. For me, having done research and proposals from a London office, I wanted to see how microfinance programs were actually implemented on the ground.

Ouagadougou street

Walking to work in my first week in Ouaga…

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9 October 2012 at 08:00

My Week with Premal – Kiva’s President visiting borrowers and partners in Nicaragua

Luan Nio | KF18 | Nicaragua

He is named Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum and is on the Fortune’s 40 under 40 list for the most influential people under the age of 40.
It is easy to become impressed, maybe intimidated by a person that holds such accolades. But Premal Shah, president of Kiva, is the last person to become intimidated by. However, impressed? Yes, highly. And he was coming my way to Nicaragua.

Premal Shah’s lender page on Kiva. Note that he made over 300 loans.

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24 September 2012 at 20:46 2 comments

Cause the money’s all been spent…

Diana Biggs | KF 18 | Burkina Faso

The words of Arcade Fire’s song Lenin, “cause the money’s all been spent” took on a new meaning as I sat writing this blog. Savings has been on my mind a lot over the past two months of my fellowship — most prominently, in the context of the field and the role that microfinance plays in both teaching and facilitating savings for the poor.

This topic brings a lot of difficult questions: With such extremely small amounts of money available, how does one manage to put anything aside? And yet, without this, what happens when you child falls ill with malaria? How does one get together a sum large enough to pay their school fees? How do you put a roof over your head when your hut has been washed away in a flood? If the money stays in your pocket, the little costs of the day-to-day could quickly add up until “the money’s all been spent”…

A group of women count their savings for a payment in Burkina Faso

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18 September 2012 at 08:00 6 comments

Technology in the Field: the Future of Microfinance

Varick Schwartz | KF18 | Kenya

Kiva profile photo from mobile app

When I applied to the Kiva Fellows program, I knew I’d be spending some time ‘in the field’, but I didn’t know I’d be out there transmitting Kiva profile information from a mobile tablet to Google’s Open Data Kit (ODK) platform!  After writing an automated survey interface and configuring the Android device, next I was on the farm with a loan officer collecting borrower responses, which were uploaded straight to the internet, Kiva photo included. Well done Juhudi Kilimo (my assigned MFI) for the foresight and motivation to put this in play, well done Kenya for providing the comprehensive mobile platform and welcome to the future of microfinance! (more…)

12 September 2012 at 08:00 6 comments

Why I quit my Corporate Finance job to join Kiva’s newest Non-traditional Partner – SANERGY

By Patrick Seeton | KF18 | Kenya

“Work collectively, live individually”

-  Tomáš Baťa, Founder of Bata Shoes

There’s a term I learned at Kiva training – “PIVOT”.

I think it’s a cool word.  For me pivoting evokes digging in one foot, turning on the spot, and heading in a completely different direction.

In Kiva Fellows training it was used to refer to the change in direction that Kiva was undertaking – motivating their current partners and bringing on new partners to utilize the Kiva platform to post more “catalytic” loans.  Loans that meet basic needs like Water, Sanitation and Education.

Pivot.  The word struck us all.  I think most Kiva Fellows are in the middle of a pivot, be it going back to school, taking a break from work or like myself, pivoting the direction of their career.

This week I quit my job at KPMG Corporate Finance in Vancouver and ended my Kiva Fellowship early to join Sanergy –  Kiva’s newest non-traditional partner in Nairobi, Kenya…

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10 September 2012 at 08:00 7 comments

A Photo Contest, Kiva Training and Some Light Audit Work

By Patrick Seeton | KF18 | Kenya

One of the most effective ways of improving Kiva’s relationship with its partners is travelling to the branches and providing Kiva Training.  Kiva training involves a refresher for the Credit Officers – the ones who make microfinance really work on the ground – about what Kiva is, how it works, why it’s important, what they need to do for a Kiva loan and finally – taking GREAT photos!

Now, I’m not a natural photographer, but as you can see from some of the Borrower Profiles on Kiva.org, neither are all our partner’s Credit Officers!   So as part of Kiva training at the branches I have been having the Credit Officers go through an exercise to practice taking GREAT photos of each other using just items around them in the office – you can see some of the results in the slideshow below.

Another critical part of a Fellow’s experience is going out and performing Borrower Verifications.   Aside from the adventure and connection Fellows get from these often remote borrower visits and the audit function it provides for Kiva, we also get a chance to practice our own Borrower Profile photography! – again, you can see the results in the slideshow below.

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7 September 2012 at 07:00 1 comment

Silicon Valley’s got nothing on Yaoundé

Raphael Ferry | KF18 | Cameroon

I’m not thinking in terms of number of patent filings, amount of venture funding, or angel investors by square foot (or meter), but on many other metrics, Yaoundé, Cameroon far outpaces the more obvious entrepreneurial hubs of London, Tel Aviv, Singapore, and Silicon Valley. Everyone here is an entrepreneur. That spirit is palpable. From papaya sellers, to cell phone credit merchants, to self-proclaimed podiatrists selling shoes, the streets of Cameroun’s capital are swarmed with people dealing in every product you can imagine.

The diversity of enterprises is impressive. You’ll find jeans, q-tips, phones, tomatoes, ties, boiled peanuts, soccer cleats, and grilled corn all on one block. And every seller is somehow creating value. From purchasing ginger in bulk to sell individually to preparing and grilling fish (a delicious meal but with obvious risks for delicate expats), these entrepreneurs are doing everything they can to provide for their families. It’s in busy streets like these that microfinance still has tremendous potential.

Outside ACEP Cameroun's downtown office on Avenue Kennedy

Outside ACEP Cameroun’s downtown office on Avenue Kennedy, Yaoundé

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6 September 2012 at 11:36 1 comment

About Nicaraguan beer and rum – brought to you by Kiva clients

By Luan Nio | KF18 | Nicaragua

One of the first things I always do when I arrive in a new country is trying out the local beer. Toña is a nice fresh beer and light to drink, but I like to spice it up as a Michelada, the Bloody Mary version of beer.

Toña – the local beer in Nicaragua

The local rum is truly delicious. The most famous brand is Flor de Caña and is best drunk pure with ice. It is also very common to order a bottle, a bucket of ice, lemon, salt and a gaseosa of choice and build your own cocktails at your table.

Build-your-own Flor de Caña cocktails at your table with a bucket of ice, lemon and salt. All of this for less than $10.

At the end of this blog post I will give you the recipes for Toña Michelada and Macua, my favorite Nica drinks. But let me first take you to the place where these drinks are produced, namely the oven of Nicaragua: the sugarcane fields in the west around the village of Chichigalpa.

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3 September 2012 at 08:00 4 comments

Credit Scoring in Kenya: observations and comparisons from the field

Varick Schwartz | KF18 | Kenya

My Fellowship workplan has been focused a little more on the technical side of things, with more application programming and appraisal analysis than borrower verifications. From such projects, and also because I come from a banking, lending and risk management background, it seems fitting to at least put forth some observations regarding the use of credit scores across the Kenya micro landscape. However, the way we approach credit scoring in the USA is almost opposite from current practices here, where aggregated financial data at the individual level could still be years away. (more…)

30 August 2012 at 09:00 2 comments

The Largest Development Organization in the World (and you probably haven’t heard of it!)

Julie Kriegshaber | KF 18 | Uganda

On my seemingly endless journey from NYC to Kampala, Uganda, I barely slept at all.

Free movies on the plane, my recently updated Spotify playlists, even SkyMall – none of it appealed to me.  Why?  I was so engrossed in my book, Freedom From Want, that tells the story of BRAC and how it evolved from a small, temporary solution to a devastating cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970 to today being the largest development organization in the world by many counts.

We all are familiar with Bangladesh’s other major development export, the Grameen Bank, but what shocked me is how relatively unknown BRAC is outside of development circles in the west.

BRAC Country Headquarters

This year marks BRAC’s 40th anniversary -after growing for 30 years in Bangladesh, BRAC in the past 10 years has expanded to 10 other countries, including Uganda, where it is (no surprise here!) the largest NGO in the country. With operations reaching 2.8 million Ugandans, BRAC Uganda is a true all-in-one development organization with specialized programs from education to health to empowering young women to improving small businesses through microloans.

Spreading Kiva love with the Kiva Coordinator, Sauda

From what I have seen as a Fellow at BRAC Uganda, I think there are 3 distinct features in many of their programs that make BRAC as an organization so successful.  In light of Kiva’s monthly theme “A Global Feast”, I am going to highlight these features in regard to BRAC Uganda’s agricultural development programme.  (This is also convenient for me since I am preparing to roll out BRAC Uganda’s agricultural loans on Kiva!)

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28 August 2012 at 06:00 2 comments

Is Microfinance a boon or bane..? My learnings from the field

With mixed emotions not knowing what to expect from the fellowship I headed to India… A sense of excitement for being a part of the launch, a sense of happiness for being able to be with my family after a long time and a disappointment for not having as much excitement as others who are traveling to new countries. But eight weeks in to the fellowship has completely changed this.

I always wondered how far microcredit actually helped alleviate the lives of the poor especially after the SKS Microfinance crisis in Andhra Pradesh. There has been a lot of criticism that this industry was full of profit motivated rather than socially focused players. So, I always wanted to understand what would make micro finance perform stronger socially.The reason I say my fellowship was rewarding is because I had all these questions answered through my eyes and ears in the process of being Kiva’s Eyes and Ears on field.

Two weeks back I was juggling between profile posting, field visits, group photos, and field staff training. Amidst this time crunch phase, a visit to the local weekly market came as liberation. It was so colorful and vibrant may be because 40% of the vendors were women selling vegetables, bangles, local snacks, cooking utensils   etc…

Bangles of all sizes and colors that must be worn to complete your Indian attire…
Locally popular snacks pakora(onions and batter of gram flour mixed and fried in oil) and wada(lentil doughnut)

The aromas(including of stinking dry fish), haggling noises and  people around did not irritate me somehow.Seemed like a perfect recipe for a break. Every 2 shops that we passed by, the branch manager would introduce me to some woman  telling me that she is their client and started/grew their business with a financial support from them.

Dry fish and Red chilli added a different flavor to the market…

It is when I met people like Lalitha and Bijaya Lakshmi that I started wondering about their livelihood in the absence of microfinance. Would they have had help from traditional banks?

Lalitha going back home happily after her day’s sale

Could Lalitha have started a vegetable business without the intervention of Mahashakti; one of Kiva’s      Indian partners with a strong social focus…? Lalitha was selling vegetables in the market. She started selling vegetables with the help of a micro loan to supplement her husband’s income who works as a daily labor in the paddy fields. The additional income has actually helped them move from a mud house to a concrete house. In the photo she holds some drumsticks(moringa) which she saved from her merchandise to cook for her daughter who loves the curry.

As I walked through the stretch of canvas of colors and aromas , I met several other women who were happy to have received a loan and felt empowered through their business.

Me all smiles with Bijayalakshmi spreading her energy around…

Or would Bijayalakshmi and her husband have been able to sustain their livelihood  without financial support in the form of microcredit..? I went to meet her as we were going to post her loan on Kiva. She spends almost 10hrs a day making local snacks and her husband sells them the next day. They are both in their fifties and have no sons to take care of them in their old age as any other parent who has crossed 50s would have been in India. When I asked her about being on internet, she answered with her infectious smile and energy “I am happy to let people know how hard we are working. This may motivate others to work hard and create opportunities for themselves”.  I had nothing to say but be amazed.

But all microfinance clients do not have a success story to share. If it were so, we would not have had those suicides in Andhra Pradesh and MFI industry in India would not be in such a crisis today. So, I thought to myself may be all of microfinance is not good or all of it is not bad. I was reminded of the “half glass” paradox.

Back in my room in the evening I was wondering how MFIs should evolve their model to not let the critics undervalue microfinance by half its potential. It finally dawns on me that MFIs should look for holistic solutions to poverty and provide innovative services by understanding the needs of the customers like any other industry and not just focus on micro credit.

I learnt from my interactions here that more than 40% of a household annual income is spent for health and it plays a major role in repaying the loan. So, health should be one major area of focus for the MFIs. Some of the MFIs in India like one of Kiva’s Indian partners Mahashakti have now started providing health based initiatives like micro insurance, credit support for safe drinking water, water and sanitation loans etc… As one of Mahashakti’s management staff puts it  “Providing basic needs first and then lending builds a stronger bond and trust between the MFIs and the borrowers.” I think this trusted relation is essential for any MFI’s sustained impact and survival in their strive for the creation of economic independence.

These client focused initiatives are implemented only by 5% of all MFIs in India and need to be more wide spread. It is very encouraging to see this shift in the MFI model in India though and hope to see many more moving in this direction.It is good to see Kiva also increase its focus beyond traditional microfinance and work with such partners.

22 August 2012 at 11:19

Pakistan: A lizard in the hand is worth several in the bush

By Anya Raza | KF18 | Pakistan

My final Borrower Verification trip was to the village of Vehari, visiting Khursheed Bibi. We had attempted to meet her almost a week ago, but the morning of our appointment, her sister had unexpectedly passed away.

Leaving Lahore at 7 a.m., we encountered the first of our two hartals (demonstrations) of the day — tires ablaze, cars overturned and police nowhere in sight.

Protest in Lahore (Image courtesy of Dawn News)

The protest was against the massive electricity cuts, with protestors chanting,“You have forgotten the villages, you have forsaken the villages” and claims of electricity being out for days at a time because officials forgot to turn ‘the switch’ back on. No wonder.

An oil tanker was parked dangerously close to the massive flame, with the driver nonchalantly sitting and watching the spectacle. The ‘highly inflammable’ sign on the tanker’s flank didn’t seem to faze him in the least. I requested our driver to make haste, lest we be caught in the blaze.

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22 August 2012 at 08:00 5 comments

What I Left Behind and What I Took With Me

By Muskan Chopra KF18 Kenya

Sitting in the Virgin Atlantic flight to London after 10 weeks in the field, I knew of one thing with absolute certainty – Kenya will rightfully own a piece of me forever.

Never have I found myself in a new country, expecting it to change me. But Kenya surpassed all unreasonable expectations. Seeing such diversity of nature, living in local communities, soaking in the culture, meeting small people with big dreams… I transformed myself.

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20 August 2012 at 10:00 8 comments

Update from the Field: Women empowerment in Uganda + this is my last Update from the Field :(

Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18| Bolivia

This week has only brought us one blog from our fellows in the field, but it is definitely worth a read. Julie Kriegshaber, our fellow in Uganda has been working with BRAC Uganda and has seen firsthand the positive effect that its Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program has had on the local community. In her blog post “Empowering Women through… Videography?“, Julie introduces us to one of the most successful subgroups within ELA, the PV group, which seeks to help local women by giving them the tools for greater self-confidence. For more on BRAC Uganda and its PV program check out Julie’s post. Also, don’t forget to check out last weeks’ updates for more on KF-18’s adventures in the field.

Continue Reading 20 August 2012 at 08:00

Empowering Women through… Videography?

Julie Kriegshaber | KF18 | Uganda

There is good reason why past Kiva Fellows at BRAC Uganda have been impressed with BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program.

I am not going to rehash what has been already been thoroughly covered – instead, I want to highlight a small group within the ELA program that is doing amazing work.

Visiting the “PV girls” of BRAC Uganda’s ELA program!

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14 August 2012 at 08:00 3 comments

Update from the Field: Borrower Feedback on Innovative Products, Sounds from the Field,

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 + KF18 | Guatemala

Through motivating stories, informative videos, intriguing sound bytes and interesting first-hand accounts, this week’s update is quite the smorgasbord of stories from the field. Through accounts of first business loans and stories about successful community banks, Fellows in Georgia and Peru show us the effects of our loans; through sights, sounds and narratives, Fellows in Guatemala and New Orleans (among others) show us – and let us hear – bits of their daily lives; and through detailed accounts of interactions with field partners, Fellows in Burkina Faso, Uganda and Bolivia show us the great work Kiva’s collaborators are performing on the ground.

Continue Reading 13 August 2012 at 09:00 2 comments

Savings Accounts make me way too excited!

Team Building Exercises

Obviously, as a Kiva Fellow, I’m always excited to hear about how our field partners offer savings to their clients.  While I was unaware of the agenda of this last weekend’s UGAFODE-wide training, I was pleasantly surprised to be a part of personal Savings Account utilization and client mobilization!  The whole weekend was not only necessary but also fun and interesting.  While the first day focused on team building with trust games and group coordination exercises, the second day was designated to Savings Account mobilization.

This savings aspect of UGAFODE has only recently been a possibility and after much hard work and restructuring of the organization.  This field partner only became a Micro Deposit Taking Institution (MDI) on September 23, 2011, but they are moving quickly to utilize this capacity in the products they offer to their clients.

Now, back to the training we received on Savings Mobilization.  I was impressed that the first half of the training was dedicated to training all ~135 employees in personal savings practices and recommendations.  The reason being, “How can you tell a client to save when you yourself don’t know how?”  Although, some of the tips were quite basic they were good reminders of how and why we save.

All employees from Credit Officers to Senior Management in Training!

Next, we split into groups to discuss the different forms of savings that clients utilize and why they do this.  I knew that micro business clients use often unorthodox forms of savings, but this really opened my eyes to other barriers that institutions have to encourage and educate people toward savings.  Although, saving in a bank is not always the best option, many times it is a far better option then the alternative.  In Uganda, with an economic history of bank closures and untrustworthy institutions, many people are hesitant to trust their money with an organization.  One of the facilitators shared a story that he had a group of woman that he was helping open savings accounts for.  When he filled out the paper work and took their cumulatively substantial amount of $6,000 he brought back passbooks (small ledgers recording account activity) that were worth $0.25.  The women were confused and angry that they gave him all that money and they only got a cheap book to replace it.

I have learned that this is the kind of context that many of the rural branches of UGAFODE deal with on a daily basis. When improving the financial literacy of low-income clients it is not telling them that saving is a good habit, but rather how will they directly benefit from savings. The credit officers’ job is to not only to disburse loans and savings accounts, but to educate clients on the benefits of savings.  What they call customer sensitization was heavily emphasized in training, to not only explain the benefits, but also the step-by-step deposit and withdrawal terms of any given account.

Don, a credit officer with UGAFODE talks business with a new Kiva client, James. Let’s get these people some savings accounts!

I was somewhat unaware of the marketing aspect of savings accounts, but now totally understand that savings accounts not only benefit the borrower with safe and secure savings but also with interest.  And while this is a great social mission for UGAFODE, it makes sense for them to increase their clients’ savings portfolio, so that they have access to this cheaper form of capital that they can then lend to other borrowers.

I love these win-win situations for all parties involved!  Now, I’m currently compiling a report to propose to UGAFODE to give back to their Kiva borrowers by opening a fixed deposit savings account for 3-6 months that would be given to Kiva clients who make all their repayments on time.  Therefore, only clients with good repayment histories would receive a reward by a portion of the interest charged by UGAFODE deposited into this account at the loan-end date. The fixed term of 3-6 months would inherently teach clients the benefits of savings and hopefully encourage continued utilization.

Please share with me any ideas or recommendations for this!

Jon is a second-term Kiva fellow volunteering in Kampala, Uganda with UGAFODE. From the desolate plains of Mongolia to the lush jungle and mountains of Uganda, Jon has been experiencing much of the amazing world of Micofinance. If you like what he has said about UGAFODE, make a loan to any of their clients here

11 August 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

The Start of Start-up Loans on Kiva

Ward Lassoe / KF 18 / Armenia

Most borrowers on Kiva get loans to help them grow their existing business. But now there are loans on Kiva to help low-income borrowers start a new business. Watch this video to see how “start-up” loans are transforming lives in Georgia….

Ward Lassoe is Kiva Fellow working in Armenia this summer. Click the link below to see the current list of start-up loans on Kiva –

http://www.kiva.org/lend?sortBy=repaymentTerm#/?&sortBy=repaymentTerm&themes%5B%5D=Start-Up

9 August 2012 at 08:00 7 comments

An Ode to the Chicken Bus

David Gorgani | KF17 + KF18 | Guatemala

Aptly-named for the high number of chickens that utilize its services, whether in a cage, with a string tied around their legs or simply held tightly by their caretakers, chicken buses (camionetas) are the primary form of inter-city transport throughout Central America. While those of you who have spent time traveling in Central America know exactly what I’m talking about, now would be a good opportunity for the rest of you to prepare yourselves to be blown away.

Continue Reading 8 August 2012 at 08:00 6 comments

Selling stoves in Burkina Faso, a humble field guide

Diana Biggs | KF 18 | Burkina Faso

Last week I was lucky enough to join my Entrepreneurs du Monde (EdM) colleagues on a field mission in the Ioba province of Burkina Faso, a rural area that borders Ghana. There, in the town of Dano, is a small EdM office manned by Benoit Some, who covers EdM’s Burkina Faso social enterprise arm, Nafa Naana, in the area.

The small, roadside office doubles as a storage hub and retail outlet for energy-efficient and gas cookstoves (as described in my last blog post).

EdM's Dano office

Cookstove display outside the EdM branch in Dano.

Here, this March, four rural shopkeepers were given training in the Nafa Naana model — the product offering, environmental protection, stock management, cash management and sales techniques. Then in April, EdM set them up for the sale of the cookstoves, providing them with simple management tools, such as receipts and sales lists, posters and an informational leaflet to show interested customers. The organization also installed grills produced by local iron workers to lock up the cookstoves and organized four promotional events in the area to drum up interest. Then of course there were the actual cookstoves, which are supplied to the shopkeepers with interest-free advances.

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7 August 2012 at 08:00 4 comments

Update from the Field: Going the distance in Pakistan and putting Kiva Zip together. Plus, a word on the Olympics.

Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18 | Bolivia


It’s once again time for an update from our Fellows in KF-18. This week we have three posts from four fellows, all of whom are busy learning from and making a difference in their respective assignments. From looking for potential Kiva Zip borrowers in Kenya, to crossing a wide swatch of the South Punjab region in order to visit clients, these fellows will do what it takes to get the job done. And best of all, they are willing to share their unique experiences with us all.

Continue Reading 6 August 2012 at 08:00 2 comments

Alighting, Educating and Uplifting – Kiva Zip Trustees in Action

By Patrick Seeton & Muskan Chopra | KF18 | Kenya

Visiting Kiva borrowers is always a special part of a Fellow’s experience.  Fellows are the lucky ones who actually go out and meet the people that Kiva capital helps.  In some cases we even get to meet the borrowers who we’ve lent money to directly – see Luan & Olivia’s terrific blog on True Connectedness!

As we ramp up Kiva Zip and assess our progress, we have had the additional pleasure of meeting the dynamic people and organizations that have been endorsed as trustees.  These folks are from diverse backgrounds – community leaders, teachers, business owners and church leaders.  They have a vested interest in seeing their communities and constituents succeed and by identifying and endorsing “creditworthy” borrowers from their programs and they are critical to the success and scaleability of Kiva Zip.

Recently Muskan Chopra and Patrick Seeton had the exciting task of meeting three of the more far flung trustees in the Zip program – community leader Rowland Amulyoto, businessman and entrepreneur Haron Wachira and conservation farming advocate Finn Davey and his field officer in Nyahururu, Hussein Wendo.

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4 August 2012 at 08:00 1 comment

The Olympics and Microfinance in the search for Identity

By Icaro Rebolledo| KF18 | Peru

As our new job title appears to have changed to ‘Global Head of Olympics Events Watching’, our often dormant patriotic side comes out with a vengeance ready to shout at or even knock down the TV screen in an effort to support our athletes (I say ‘us’…  is it just me!?). You have had the pleasure of enjoying a unique feeling of celebrating ‘just’ the effort and hard work despite the lack of triumphs (unless you are Chinese or American, then you celebrate stuff like gold medals!) and you have now officially become an expert in sports that you didn’t really know existed (if you have any questions about weightlifting, I’m the man!). Yet, even though the Olympics seem to strengthen the existence of national borders, they also break the barriers of language, age groups or culture to show that in the end we have more similarities than we think; I see no other explanation to Mr. Bean’s ability to make 1billion people laugh with such simplicity! I give him a gold medal.

Such similarities often make us strive to differentiate ourselves from the rest and look for our own identity. Elements that encourage identity building also lead to a greater likelihood of motivation to think about our goals and achieve them via self-believe. So… as Peruvians proudly celebrated their Independence Day on the 28th of July,  I started thinking about why my work is contributing towards the provision of an environment that is prone to inspire people to think about their own identity. (more…)

3 August 2012 at 09:40 2 comments

Pakistan: Remarkable women in remarkable places

By Anya Raza | KF18 | Pakistan

Racing against the onset of monsoon season and the holy month of fasting, Ramadan, my female colleague Shazia and I challenged ourselves to travel 1,500 km across South Punjab to meet with seven borrowers in three days.

The mission was to complete an audit of sorts, known as a “borrower verification.”

What may seem like an awkward, laborious task is in fact most fellows’ favourite part of their fellowship — the chance to travel and meet borrowers in the flesh.

To meet Rani, we had to park our car under the sole tree on that lane and continue by foot into a tiny village divided by railroad tracks. Overseeing a bustling home with children, goats and neighbors casually popping in and out continuously, Rani shared with me the ambitious story of her seamstress/farming endeavors made possible through Kiva loans over the past five years.

“It takes two hands to applaud,” Rani emphasized, highlighting her need to supplement her husband’s income as a mason.

A candid family moment with Rani.

(more…)

3 August 2012 at 08:00 12 comments

Update from the Field: Kiva Products New and Old, Lender-Borrower Connections, and a Nice Glass of Cold Milk

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 + KF18 | Guatemala

This week’s update from the field covers a number of Fellows’ experiences as they work on adapting their MFIs’ innovative products to Kiva lenders, as they continue to develop Kiva’s newest and most innovative initiatives, and as they continue to visit borrowers – in this case borrowers whose loans they themselves financed! Whether old school or new school, Kiva products continue to focus on providing a connection between you and the borrowers whose loans you’ve financed. This week’s posts help us to understand the new ways (and the old) in which this connection can be developed and appreciated.

Continue Reading 30 July 2012 at 09:00 3 comments

Got Milk?

Varick Schwartz | KF18 | Kenya

Milk & Fur Trader

Kenya’s got milk alright, and it’s a good thing, because just like good ol’ USA and Starbucks, I’m not sure what people here would do without their twice daily milk tea!  Milk is big business; an integral part of Kenya’s expanding agricultural sector. (more…)

29 July 2012 at 08:00 5 comments

Feeling truly connected: Kiva Fellows meeting their “own” borrowers in person

Luan Nio and Olivia Hanrahan-Soar |  KF18 | Nicaragua and Zambia

Kiva works hard to facilitate a connection between lenders and borrowers, through photographs, video interviews, and email updates from the borrowers themselves. Nothing compares, though, to the experience of being able to meet that borrower in person and see how your funds and the funds of others have had a tangible impact on his or her life.

Two Kiva fellows recently got the extraordinary opportunity to visit a borrower they had personally lent money to.

Luan from Rotterdam, The Netherlands <-> Alejandro Jose from El Sauce, Nicaragua

(more…)

27 July 2012 at 08:00 5 comments

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