Posts filed under ‘KF18 (Kiva Fellows 18th Class)’
- 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.
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.)
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.
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”…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.
Varick Schwartz | KF18 | Kenya
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…)
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