Posts filed under ‘South Africa’

Second Chances (Part 1)

There’s a certain amount of introspective review that happens near the end of a Kiva Fellow’s time in the field, as previous Fellows have written about self-discoveries in spirituality, competitiveness, and self-acceptance. We’ve all gained a better worldview, certainly. Witnessing extreme poverty, adjusting to life in a developing nation and participating in the small technological miracle of connecting Kiva Lenders and Borrowers can lead to some genuine soul-searching. I’ve learned an important life lesson and, at the risk of public humiliation; but ultimately hoping to a) cement this lesson to my own heart and b) encourage future Fellows, I’ll admit that due to my own ignorance and fear, I nearly missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Continue Reading 24 November 2011 at 05:15 14 comments

Working Animals, Conservation & Microfinance

In this post Kiva Fellow Tim Young considers two successful examples of organisations working with local communities to improve the livelihoods of working animals and their wild cousins, and considers how microfinance could be used to help finance, support and further these efforts.

Continue Reading 27 July 2011 at 09:36 9 comments

Updates from the Field: Poverty Assessments, Bush Taxis + Meeting “My” Borrower

Last week the Fellows Blog gave us glimpses into life on the ground for Kiva fellows, Kiva borrowers, and that unique moment when those lives are brought together by a Kiva loan! Whether riding in Daniel’s bush taxi on the way to work in South Africa, exploring Bafut and crossing the threshold into borrowers’ homes with Faith in Cameroon, or sharing a meal with Megan and ‘her’ borrower Graciela in the market in Ecuador, these posts illustrate the world of actors brought together by Kiva.

Continue Reading 25 July 2011 at 08:00 5 comments

Video Journal: The Most Exciting Thing to Do in Richards Bay, South Africa

By Daniel Jung, KF15, South Africa

Oh, the excitement I felt once I confirmed my Kiva Fellowship for South Africa, one of the world’s great travel destinations. Where would I be based? In Cape Town, under the shadow of Table Mountain? In Johannesburg, South Africa’s hub of business and culture? South African wine country? Not exactly. I am most definitely, positively not near one of South Africa’s main travel destinations. Instead, I am in Richards Bay. Here’s a description of Richards Bay in The Lonely Planet’s Guide to South Africa:

“The industrial port of Richards Bay is a mass of modern suburbia, aluminium smelters and a web of roads linking very little. It’s included here for two reasons: many people fly in and out of Richards Bay Airport, as do many bird species(.)”

Continue Reading 20 July 2011 at 03:14

Update from the Field: Dangerous Streets, New Vocabulary + A Senegalese Spring

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF15, Togo

This week, the Kiva fellows invite you to accompany them across Africa and South and Central America: Take a walk in the streets of San Salvador. Improve your language skills by adding a few words in three of South Africa’s most widely spoken languages to your vocabulary. Look poverty in the face in Cameroon. Continue by learning more about the latest riots in Senegal. Find out how money helps to provide dignity in Ecuador. And finish by learning about the importance of family unity in El Salvador.

Continue Reading 11 July 2011 at 02:00 5 comments

Update from the Field: Zulu Weddings, More Country-Specific Microfinance + Fighting Crime

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF15, Togo

Learn about the tradition of Zulu weddings in South Africa. Find out how Kiva’s partners adapt the concept of microfinance to fit their country’s specific needs: from loans targeting borrowers affected by emigration in Ecuador, over a preference for group loans in El Salvador, to lending coupled with various training programs in Rwanda. Finish off your weekly reading by learning about crime-fighting Kivans in Nicaragua.

Continue Reading 4 July 2011 at 02:30 8 comments

Video Blog: The Many, Many, Many Languages of South Africa

by Daniel Jung, KF15, South Africa

I am currently based in Richards Bay on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, where Zulus comprise the strong majority of the population. This doesn’t mean that Zulu is the only language spoken. At the regional office of Kiva’s partner in South Africa, Women’s Development Businesses (WDB) , four different languages are regularly used. To try to keep everything straight, I compiled a handy chart of common phrases in these four languages. Unfortunately, this chart is really difficult to write on my hand:

English Zulu Setswana Tsonga
Hello Sawu Bana Dumelang Kunjhani
Thank you Ngi Bonga Kealeboga Inkomu
Yes Yebo Ke dumalana le wema Ina
No Cha Nyaa Ee
Sorry Ngi yalisa Ke kopa tshwarelo Ndzi Khomele
Good bye Salekahle Salang Sentle Salani Kahle

Continue Reading 4 July 2011 at 00:48 2 comments

Zulu Weddings

By Daniel Jung, KF15, South Africa

Traditional Zulu Wedding Outfit

Kiva’s partner in South Africa, Women’s Development Businesses (WDB), serves rural women throughout the southern portion of Kwazulu-Natal. In this region, Zulus make up the strong majority of the population, particularly in rural areas outside of Durban and Richards Bay. One of the most popular methods for WDB’s clients to earn income is by using the loans to buy materials to make mats, clothes, and jewelry for traditional Zulu weddings.

Weddings in any culture are complex affairs filled with symbolic gestures and ornaments, and Zulu weddings are no different. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of attending a wedding in South Africa but two future brides-to-be, WDB’s Kiva coordinators Smah and Gnile, walked me through a typical Zulu wedding and explained the role of the mats, clothing, and jewelry. Learning about Zulu weddings has provided me with insight into the changing nature of Zulu culture, and I thought it would be a good thing to share on the Kiva Fellow’s Blog.

Continue Reading 27 June 2011 at 04:01 8 comments

Microlending Behind the Scenes: How MFIs Judge Credit Worthiness

By Nila Uthayakumar, KF14, Uganda, 

With the help of several other Fellows in the field

Borrowers of an MCDT solidarity group meet under the shade of a tree in Kampala, Uganda.

I’ve met all kinds of borrowers. From age 16 to 76; from orphans to a former beauty queen; from potato sellers to auto parts saleswomen to motorcycle transportation tycoons. I’ve met them in urban slums, in villages, in homes, on porches, in churches, in community centers, and outside in grassy fields. I’ve listened to their stories, I’ve photographed and filmed them, I’ve played with their children, and I’ve been welcomed into their homes. Two months into my Kiva fellowship, and I am more motivated and inspired than ever. My name is Nila and I live and work in Kampala, Uganda.

What I have understood from these borrowers is that poverty takes many shapes and forms. Poverty can mean desperation and destitution, and it can also mean having to make impossible choices between paying medical bills or school fees. It can mean not having enough food to eat today, or not having a secure enough future to be able to retire. The microloans I have seen in action place into the hands of borrowers the power to shape their own lives. The recipients of these loans are among the most dignified people I have ever met, and when given the chance, these individuals make tremendous improvements in their lives. (more…)

5 May 2011 at 11:31 2 comments

Update from the Field: Farewells, Mistaken Identities + Micro-Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

We’ve officially hit the point in the Kiva Fellows cycle where the current batch says goodbye just as the latest group is getting their bearings at Kiva HQ. Fortunately, there are a number of posts this week to help us through the transition and cheer us up. If you’re interested in a comprehensive image gallery of the hot designs for share taxis in Rwanda, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also got stories about micro-micro-businesses in Sierra Leone, visiting research fellows in West Timor, and the intersection of medicine and microfinance in Bolivia. Plus, take long trips to the field in Armenia and Peru, and catch up on the impact of microloans in South Africa.

Sierra Leone Poda-Poda

Continue Reading 2 May 2011 at 00:38 4 comments

Sala Kahle: Saying Goodbye to KwaZulu-Natal

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Like most Fellows from Kiva’s 14th class, I am busily tying up the loose ends of my Fellowship. As much as I enjoyed my trips to the rural areas surrounding Richards Bay (although I wasn’t a huge fan of Richards Bay itself), I can’t say that I mind my current locale: the beach at Kommetjie, about an hour south of Cape Town. My Fellowship required a sustained burst of manic energy and proved to be an extraordinary mixed bag that was both incredibly challenging and rewarding. While I’m ready for a little R&R, I wouldn’t take back any part of the past three months, except perhaps for the multitude of yappy dogs that started barking at 5:30am each morning and harassed me on all of my walks. I definitely could have done without them!

Continue Reading 1 May 2011 at 12:20 5 comments

Update from the Field: Earth Day, Celebrations + Exceeding Expectations

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky

Kiva Fellows observed Earth Day by sharing projects initiated by their partner microfinance institutions and host countries and by celebrating Kiva.org’s first batch of “Green Loans”. The upbeat mood also extended to anniversary parties at MFIs in Jordan and Armenia, enthusiastic endorsements to travel to Colombia, and reporting on a great opportunity for Kiva clients in Mongolia. Fellows also visited with borrowers in the Philippines, South Africa, and Armenia, and took us on a typical commute in Mexico City. All in all, a very busy week as members of KF14 wind down their time in the field.

Continue Reading 25 April 2011 at 02:45 4 comments

Spazas + Tuck Shops: Corner Stores in South Africa

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

South Africa enjoys an abundance of corner stores and they’re one of the most common businesses funded by Women’s Development Businesses (WDB) in southern KwaZulu-Natal. Corner stores run the gamut from selling a few things out of a home to setting up a small shelter by the side of the road to building a more sturdy structure to leasing a space in a building. They’re a very important source of goods in rural communities since it can be expensive and time-consuming to make a trip to town every time you need something.

Continue Reading 18 April 2011 at 02:52 4 comments

Update from the Field: April Fools, Terrible Coffee + Getting Attached

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

We hope you enjoyed our April Fools post on Friday! While we were entertaining ourselves pulling it all together, we also found the time to attend to some serious matters: coffee in Colombia is no joke (in a bad way), some borrowers are easier to locate than others, and oftentimes Fellows must say goodbye to people and places before they’re ready to. We also learned about the “No Pago” movement in Nicaragua, the elections in Peru, what daily life is like for a Fellow in Bolivia, and how to sensibly and respectfully collect past-due payments in Ghana. Somehow there was even time to host a previous Fellow and a documentary film student in Colombia and to visit borrowers, eat chocolate, and stop for the view in Armenia.

Continue Reading 4 April 2011 at 00:46 8 comments

Special Update from the Field: Beaches, Safaris + Cambodian Glamour Shots

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Kiva Fellows are nothing if not creative. We’ve gone to elaborate lengths to convince you that it can be hard to visit borrowers and that when we’re not trekking for miles, we’re doing elaborate calculations or dealing with databases and reporting. In truth, it’s all a front for an extended holiday from our regular lives. You thought our recent Carnival coverage represented a change of pace? Think again!

Continue Reading 1 April 2011 at 00:13 7 comments

Update from the Field: Social Quirks, Justin Bieber + Lots of Carbs

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

While it may have been a slower “official” news week than usual, I can assure you that the Fellows are keeping busy. One Fellow spent hours searching fruitlessly for borrowers in the jungle, another has been suffering from serious gastrointestinal issues (aren’t you glad he didn’t post about that?), and the rest of us have been plotting something very special for the end of the week. In the meantime, you can catch up on social quirks in Rwanda, transportation in West Timor, the importance of corn in Guatemala, and the latest from Mongolia all while taking a look at photos from South Africa. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 28 March 2011 at 03:58 6 comments

Update from the Field: Fun Facts, Field Visits + Back to Basics

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

For many Fellows, this week was about getting back to basics: the borrowers. In between fun facts about Kiva Fellowships, doing database detective work, and reflecting on the internal dynamics of Kiva’s partner microfinance institutions, Fellows found themselves in the field again and again, much to their delight and often to the delight of borrowers. From Latin America to Africa to the Caucasus to Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe, meet Kiva clients, learn about their businesses, and check out all of the great photos.

Continue Reading 21 March 2011 at 01:53 9 comments

Database Detective: South Africa Edition

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

I realize your interest may be waning based on the title alone but I encourage you to keep reading because not everything a Kiva Fellow does is as wild and crazy and emotionally rewarding as a borrower visit. But, as a Kiva Fellow, I aim to please so I’ve also included pictures from a recent trip to the field at the end of this post. Now there’s something for everyone – for those of you who want to geek out a little, I’ve got you covered, and for everyone else who just wants to be transported to South Africa for a minute in the middle of the workday, you’re taken care of, too.

Continue Reading 15 March 2011 at 05:36 9 comments

Kiva Fellows by the Numbers

By David McNeill (Sierra Leone) and Adam Cohn (Rwanda), with lots of help from the 14th class of Kiva Fellows

It turns out that one thing Kiva Fellows seem to have in common is a love for data. With that, Kiva Fellows David and Adam polled the current fellows in the field on the costs of various necessities and niceties in their current placements. The numbers, which we humbly title the Kiva Fellows Index, give some good insight into the conditions in the far-flung places we now live and work.

Far from home

Kiva Fellows are in it for the long haul. On average, we’re 5,745 miles away from home, as the crow flies. The fellows who have trucked the farthest, at least by line of sight, are: Adam Cohn, who crossed 8,892 miles from Seattle, WA to Kigali, Rwanda; Caitlin Ross, who also went to Kigali from her home in Burlingame, CA, for a total of 9,417 miles; and the longest haul goes to Lisa Skowron, who flew 9,519 miles from her home in Chicago, IL to Kupang, Indonesia!

Internet
The first prize for the slowest Internet speed goes to Carlos Cruz in Liberia, with a close second and third for Claudine Emeott in Nepal and David McNeill in Sierra Leone. They experience speeds 10-100 times slower than in the US, making them thankful to the Kiva engineers who make Kiva.org one of the quicker websites to load. At these speeds video chatting is impossible, voice is dodgy if possible at all, and emails aren’t even guaranteed to work. Forget about watching videos on YouTube or listening to Internet radio. Having Internet access is quickly becoming almost as important as having electricity or indoor plumbing.

Weather
Many of us are serving in hot parts of the world without the blessing of air conditioning. The unlucky winners in this category are neighbors in West Africa – Carlos Cruz in Liberia and David McNeill in Sierra Leone. They survive high temperatures in the low 90’s (F) and lows that only get down to the upper 70’s or low 80’s (F). Carlos, we hope you’ve got a fan and electricity to run it like David does (most of the time).

On the other side of the spectrum, Amber Barger is struggling to keep warm in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia where it dips down to -9 (F) at night. David would be happy to trade one of his hot sunny beaches for some of Amber’s ice!

Amber trying to stay warm on her unheated camel ride in Mongolia

Housing
Carlos Cruz got the sweetest deal on rent, with free housing courtesy of his host microfinance institution in Liberia. The runner up is Gustavo Visalli in Totonicapan, Guatemala. He pays only $100/month, and that includes electricity, a flush toilet, and all the black beans and eggs he can eat!

Gustavo cooking up his all-you-can eat buffet in his sweet house in Guatemala

Transportation
There are some definite advantages to working in developing countries. Most of us spend less than $1 getting to work each day riding buses, motorcycles, or other modes of public transportation. For David in Sierra Leone, a ride in the back of a car taxi to a town 2.5 hours away only costs $3.50 (there are four people squished in a seat made for three, though). Stephanie Sibal has the sweetest deal on transportation – her host organization in Phnom Penh, Cambodia provides her a car and driver to bring her in to work in the morning.

With the cost of oil on the rise, we did a quick poll of gas prices where we are serving. The highest price is in South Africa at $5/gallon. If you want the cheapest price, you’ll have to drive to Indonesia ($2.15/gallon) or Kyrgyzstan ($2.73/gallon).

Refreshment
For refreshment, Stephanie Sibal is a definite winner – she only has to pay 15 cents for a Coke served in a plastic baggie! The following people have a four-way tie for the cheapest beer at only $1 a bottle: Stephanie Sibal again (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), John Gwillim (Barranquilla, Colombia), Geeta Uhl (Ayacucho, Peru), and John Farmer (Mexico City, Mexico). For coffee, some people like John Farmer have the luxury of a nearby Starbucks in Mexico City, Adam Cohn can drink 100% local coffee at multiple Bourbon locations in Rwanda, while poor Noreen Giga is still searching for a good cup in Lima, Peru.

Stephanie enjoying her Bag-o-Coke in Cambodia

As you can see, some of life’s necessities are more accessible, while others are prohibitive, for those who relocate to the other side of the globe. If you’d like to look at our full spreadsheet of stats, you can see it here.
Have you found places where a Coke is incredibly expensive, or internet is mind-blowingly slow? Let us know in the comments!

14 March 2011 at 04:00 8 comments

Update from the Field: Man’s Day, Singing Fellows + Learning How to Count

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

The Fellows will be covering International Women’s Day later this week but let’s take a moment to acknowledge its lesser-known cousin in Kyrgyzstan, “Man’s Day”. And while you’re appreciating culture and history in far-off places, take a trip to Peru and West Timor through photos, visit borrowers in Uganda and Rwanda through video, learn a little something about communicating in South Africa, and catch up on the latest from Liberia, Ghana, and Mexico (home to the “Singing Fellow”).

Continue Reading 7 March 2011 at 00:16 7 comments

The Meaning of “Now” in South Africa

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

In addition to the popular phrases “howzit?” (short for “how’s it going?”), “pleasure” (in place of “you’re welcome”), and “ach, shame” (which can emphasize just about anything from appreciation for an adorably cute dog to disappointment over your cricket team losing to acting as a general conversation filler), you’ll hear a lot of “just now” while traveling or living in South Africa.

Continue Reading 1 March 2011 at 10:21 81 comments

Last Week in the Field: “Christmas”, Trekking, Adversity + Good Company

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Members of the 14th class of Kiva Fellows have officially hit their stride. While we never know where the next dispatch will come from or what interesting topics the Fellows will cover next, we always know we’ll be transported, entertained, and edified. This past week, topics included “Christmas”, trekking to a remote village (with video!), handling adversity (including a serious car accident and stolen electronics), and enjoying the company of loan officers, borrowers, and community members. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 21 February 2011 at 02:17 12 comments

Next Steps for Kiva’s Partner in South Africa

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

You may or may not have noticed that posts from South Africa have been on the non-specific end of the spectrum. This is because Kiva’s first partner in South Africa, Women’s Development Businesses (WDB), is currently in a “pilot” stage. Both Kiva and WDB are figuring out the best processes and procedures for working together so that WDB can keep doing what it does best and Kiva and Kiva’s users can have the reporting they crave.

If you were eagerly awaiting lots of info from South Africa, this is the post for you! And if you just want to see happy pictures of loan officers and clients, all you have to do is scroll to the bottom of the page.

Continue Reading 17 February 2011 at 04:18 13 comments

First Borrower Visit (Take 350+)

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Readers of the Kiva Fellows Blog may be familiar with this outline:
- New Fellow arrives at placement
- Fellow goes on first borrower visit which involves bumpy roads and/or novel forms of transportation, questionable directions, meeting borrowers, and some unexpected form of hijinx
- Fellow returns home after a long day in the field both exhausted and exhilarated

Continue Reading 14 February 2011 at 05:37 17 comments

Pictures and Perspectives from South Africa

EB Moore, KF13 South Africa

As my fellowship approaches its completion, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with a new fellow. Along our journey I realize that what I know of South Africa after three months only scratches the surface.

Continue Reading 4 February 2011 at 07:00 1 comment

A Hand-Delivered Kiva Fellow

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

As many a Kiva Fellow will tell you, sometimes things just seem to work out and it makes up for all the times they don’t.

Case in point: I showed up for my first day at Women’s Development Businesses with mosquito bites all over my face, including one on my eyelid that made me look like I was suffering from some sort of paralysis. I didn’t have the correct adapter for my computer charger even though I bought it in South Africa. And I ran out of money on my pay-as-you-go 3G modem at noon so no Internet for the rest of the day.

Continue Reading 3 February 2011 at 04:48 15 comments

South Africa’s Inspirational Women

EB Moore, KF13 South Africa

Now that Women’s Development Businesses (WDB), Kiva’s new field partner in South Africa, has begun posting loans, maybe you’re curious about who their clients are. I want to share with you snapshots into the lives of two of WDB’s clients from the Mpumalanga province.

Continue Reading 21 January 2011 at 06:01 3 comments

Drawings from Training and Greetings from Boston

By Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

You’ll be hearing a lot from the 14th batch of Kiva Fellows (KF14) in the next few months but I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself while my Internet is fast and my motivation to go outside is low (it’s well below freezing in Boston).

Continue Reading 18 January 2011 at 08:42 14 comments

Welcome Aboard, South Africa!

by EB Moore, KF13 South Africa

Please join me in welcoming Women’s Development Businesses as Kiva’s newest field partner. Not only is WDB bringing its borrowers to the Kiva community, but it is also allowing Kiva lenders to connect with borrowers in a previously untapped country – that’s right, as of this week Kiva lenders will be able to connect with borrowers in South Africa!

Continue Reading 29 November 2010 at 23:26 1 comment


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