Posts filed under ‘Ecuador’

Update From The Field: Inspiring Field Partners, Cultural Adjustments + Girl Scout Cookies (No Wait, That’s Not Right)

Compiled by Chris Paci, KF16 & KF17, Azerbaijan

A Béninois borrower - Allison Moomey, Benin

It’s the beginning of March, and by now, most of KF17 has been out in the field for several weeks. We’ve settled in at our field partners, gotten to know some of our new coworkers, and started to dig a little deeper into the societies of the countries we now call home. Many of us have already traveled out into the field to visit the borrowers at the heart of the Kiva model. Check out this week’s posts and join the fellows of KF17 as they discover the quirks of Samoa, reflect on Benin’s distinctive culture, and observe extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. Then keep on reading to learn about a devoted loan officer in Ecuador, the money management techniques of microfinance clients in Togo, and the surprising opportunities that Liberian microfinance institutions can create.

Continue Reading 5 March 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Loan Officer Spotlight: FODEMI’s Freddy Andrade

Isabel Balderrama/KF-17/Ecuador

The most often quoted fact by Kiva members and enthusiasts is its borrowers’ remarkably high repayment rate of 98.91%. How does Kiva manage to get this vast majority of people, located in all corners of the world, to be this good at repaying back their loans? Is it magic? No, no… The reality is simultaneously simpler, and more complicated than that. It’s a chain really: Kiva relies on its Field Partners to get the job done, and these field partners, in turn, come to rely on their teams of loan officers to interview the clients and to educate them properly on why paying back on time is a must.
I wanted to take some time and recognize one of these keen and valuable loan officers: Ecuador-based FODEMI’s Freddy Andrade.

Continue Reading 2 March 2012 at 08:00 2 comments

60 Tips from Kiva Fellows

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!

Continue Reading 30 December 2011 at 04:00 6 comments

A Fellowship in Photos (Part 1)

My first placement in Ecuador was my first time in the country. Turns out that Ecuador is every bit as incredible as the guide books say, and more. I was continously struck by the warmth and openness of the Ecuadorian people (and their passion for politics!), the beauty of the mountains, jungle, and countryside, the richness of Ecuadorian food, the strength of the Kiva borrowers I met there, and my persisting inability to salsa as well as my coworkers. These are a few of my favorite photos of my time there. Stay tuned for my next post, of my favorite photos from my placement in Perú!

Continue Reading 28 December 2011 at 04:00 1 comment

Cooperative Karaoke; Celebrating 47 Years of Savings and Loans

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…

Continue Reading 23 December 2011 at 05:18

Producto Creer: How for a Bank Doing the Right Thing Can Pay Off

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF16, Guayaquil (Ecuador)

My host and Kiva´s partner organization Banco D-MIRO provides over ten different types of microloans to borrowers in and around Guayaquil: among them loans to finance housing improvements, school expenses, medication, and loans awarded specifically to employees, young clients with a business idea but no experience, and – as Ecuador´s only microfinance institution – discount loans for HIV-positive micro-entrepreneurs. Yet, one borrower group beats all other borrowers in their dedication and commitment to paying back their loans on time: the well over 400 disabled borrowers of Banco D-MIRO, whose payment discipline has turned “their” loan – “Producto Creer” (“Product Believe”) – into the most successful and inspirational product of D-MIRO´s extensive spectrum. The delinquency rate of Producto Creer is by far lower than that of any other major micro-loan type of Banco D-MIRO, which means that borrowers of Producto Creer are better at paying back their monthly rates than any other client group! In these times of economic and social turmoil, Banco D-MIRO´s Producto Creer may be a much needed reminder that it may pay off for banks to do the morally right thing.

Continue Reading 20 December 2011 at 04:00 1 comment

All Loans Lead to Home; When an Agricultural Loan is also a Housing (or Student) Loan

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

“We built a little house” she replied happily, when I asked how she had used the loan. I looked down at my sheet. Oops. This loan, according to its Kiva description, was for corn seeds and fertilizers.

Of course, we have no right to insist on any particular loan use. That’s not the point. But of the first three borrowers with whom I had spoken as part of Kiva’s Borrower Verification process, not a single one had used the loan for the purpose listed on Kiva. And two of three had built houses with their loans. What gives?

Continue Reading 15 December 2011 at 05:38 3 comments

Update from the Field: Loan Officer Training, a Photographic Journey + Kiva Gift Cards

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.

Continue Reading 12 December 2011 at 02:00 1 comment

A Typical Day in the Life of a Kiva Fellow: Loan Officer Training (Video Blog Post)

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF 16, Guayaquil (Ecuador)

Video posts on a “typical day” in the life of a Kiva Fellow are a time-honored tradition on the Fellows Blog. Without any more words, here is my contribution to the video series of documenting a typical day in the life of a Kiva fellow. Like all previous contributors to the series, I am keenly aware that there is no “typical day” for Kiva Fellows. But taken together, the growing number of “typical day”-videos may at least convey something of the diversity, unpredictability, spontaneity, and joy that a typical untypical day of a Kiva Fellowship entails. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 6 December 2011 at 04:00 3 comments

Questions from the Field: Why Do We Lend, What’s a Kiva Fellowship + How does Microfinance Support Green & Agricultural Development?

Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF16, Peru

Last week’s stories from the field elucidate readers on questions far and wide, and pose a few questions of their own: what is a Wandering Kiva Fellow, and is a Kiva Fellowship right for you? How can microloans support a green or agriculturally sustainable economy? In a country bouncing back from a civil war, how can international aid and microfinance help (or hurt)? What social programs are our partners supporting across the world, and how can microfinance support HIV-postive microborrowers? And finally, a question we put to you lenders: How do You Lend?

Continue Reading 21 November 2011 at 13:21 1 comment

Visiting an HIV-Clinic in Guayaquil (Part II)

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF16, Guayaquil (Ecuador)

One of the great joys and privileges of being a Kiva Fellow is to go along with loan officers when they are meeting Kiva borrowers and new clients. One of my most memorable outings was a visit of an HIV-clinic in a public hospital in Ecuador´s largest city Guayaquil. In the first part of this blog post I recounted how I drove with Nahin Alvarado from Banco D-MIRO´s headquarters on Guayaquil´s Isla Trinitaria to the HIV-clinic at Hospital Abel Gilbert. Nahin is the bank´s loan officer specializing in HIV-positive and/or disabled clients who have the right to receive a discount micro-loan. And Banco D-MIRO is the only micro-institution in all Ecuador to provide financial products especially for these two long-excluded client groups.

Nahin is talking to a patient outside of Guayaquil´s HIV clinic

While Nahin is presenting the bank´s special loan products to the patients in the HIV- clinic´s crowded waiting room, Franklin walks towards me. A strong man in his forties, Franklin is the leader and community organizer of FUSAD (Frente Unido por la Salud y los Derechos – in English: United Front for Health and Rights), a self-help and support group for HIV-positive people, based at the hospital and well known for the professional education courses they provide to their members.

Continue Reading 15 November 2011 at 12:00 4 comments

Update from the Field: New Products in Microfinance, Over-Indebtedness + Transparency

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

This week on the Kiva fellows blog, start out by learning about three new microfinance products – microinsurance in Indonesia, higher education loans in the Philippines and green and water loans in Kenya. Continue on to Nepal to admire the handiwork of artisan borrowers. Make your way to Ecuador to find out more about the risk of indebtedness. Share the fellows’ personal experiences with the recent elections in Nicaragua and rush hour traffic in Uganda. Finish by taking a critical look at transparency in microfinance and Kiva’s responsibility with regards to transparency.

Continue Reading 15 November 2011 at 06:44 3 comments

Necessary “No”

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

When I was a kid and I asked for something I wasn’t going to get, my mother would start snidely singing, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Unfortunately for borrowers with a lot of outstanding debt, nobody is there to sing to them if they don’t get the loan they are looking for.

My first experience meeting borrowers was thus a complicated one. First, a little background…

Continue Reading 10 November 2011 at 05:32 10 comments

Update from the Field: Earthquakes, 5Ks + The Pain of Sickness and Loss

This week’s Fellows Blog is armed with stories from the field: stories of the uncertain world borrowers live in, and how they (and we) cope with it. We’ve learned that everyone gets tired running a 5K in Paraguay, but for a good enough cause, we can will our legs to power through it. That everyone gets scared during an afternoon earthquake in Peru, but even so, borrowers, coworkers, and Field Partners will lend a hand to anyone that needs it. That everyone gets hungry, but there are no shortage of Kiva borrowers in Peru who are ready and willing to whip up some lunch. That everyone gets sick, but there are openhanded Kiva Field Partners in Ecuador trying to extend financial support to those who might not get better anytime soon. And sadly, we’ve had to learn that for all of our strengths and fortitude, no one is impervious to the sting of death. It affects everyone that plays a part of Kiva’s story, but those left behind can honored these individuals by persevering all the more.

Continue Reading 7 November 2011 at 00:47 3 comments

Visiting an HIV-Clinic in Guayaquil (Part I)

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF16, Ecuador

“Don’t be scared to shake the hand of a client with HIV or to drink out of his glass. You cannot get infected that way.” This was the message that Nahin Alvarado repeated over and over during a training session in September with a group of twelve new and somewhat incredulous loan officers of Banco D-MIRO, when I first met him. A loan officer himself, Nahin has been with Banco D-MIRO for over two years, focusing on two very special client groups who – not just in Ecuador – have long suffered from discrimination and lack of access to financial services: micro-entrepreneurs who are HIV-positive or disabled. The moment I heard Nahin so forcefully speak up on behalf of HIV-positive clients, I knew that I wanted to spend a day with him in the field.

Continue Reading 2 November 2011 at 08:00 3 comments

Updates from the Field: Green Loans, Dark Alleys + On-the-Ground Footage of it All

Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF16, Peru

Want a fresh look at Kiva clients on-the-ground? This week fellows share stories and mixed-media that bring us directly into the cities, homes and pulperías of borrowers. From the marketplace in Bolivia, to the streets of Guayaquil, to the dumps of Kenya, we learn about the challenges of working in developing countries and the strategies loan officers and Fellows can use to mitigate them. Not to mention we can see the work of Kiva fellows and Kiva Field Partners in Cambodia, Honduras and Bolivia in living color. What’s even better than reading a post by a Kiva Fellow? Seeing what we see in the field for yourself!

Continue Reading 24 October 2011 at 02:00 2 comments

What´s Easier Than Getting Robbed in Guayaquil?

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF 16, Ecuador

As much a therapy session as a blog entry, this is the narrative of a recent robbery incident in Guayaquil: It happened two hours ago and my co-workers and I can still feel the shock in our bones. This day had begun like a normal day: At 7.30am Rubi Chaca – the Kiva Coordinator of Banco D-MIRO -, her 16-year old intern Joel Kenny Matias, and I had met outside of the bank´s headquarters, where we were picked up by Roberto, the official driver of the bank. He drove us to the branch office of Guasmo where we gave a training session to the local loan officers, reminding them about Kiva and explaining to them why it is so important that they keep finding micro-entrepreneurs who agree to be listed with their name and photo on Kiva´s website.

Continue Reading 18 October 2011 at 16:00 9 comments

Wrap your arms around me

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

Imagine yourself stepping outside of your tomato-colored house and onto a peaceful street, steeply hung over a mid-sized Ecuadorian town nestled in a lush valley. It’s nearly silent as you walk to the bus stop. You can see the center of town bustling below you. The giant Mt. Chimborazo in the distance and the smaller range just in front of it block the harshness of the early morning sun, casting a soft light on the quiet countryside.

This peace lasts no more than a couple of minutes before it is loudly shattered by the shouting of the fare official of the bright red bus screaming towards you with no intention to stop, loudly blaring from its many loudspeakers the same song as yesterday (indeed, as every day). So it begins!

Continue Reading 12 October 2011 at 08:12 3 comments

Update from the Field: Loan Use, Agriculture Loans + Stuff Kiva Fellows Like

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

This week on the Kiva fellows blog: Hop on a poda-poda or an okada to try out an adventurous way to get around Sierra Leone. Find out why loan use in Tajikistan is not as straightforward as you may think. Learn how the principle of “trust but verify” is applied in Georgia. Explore the clever efforts of an Ecuadorian Kiva partner to craft an agricultural loan product that is appropriate to farmers’ needs. Welcome Kiva’s new field partner, VisionFund Cambodia. Learn how village banking works in Ecuador.

Continue Reading 10 October 2011 at 02:00 8 comments

Tough Crowd; Pitfalls and Progress in Agriculture Loans

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

Farmers are tough cookies. As it turns out, they’re even tougher to finance effectively. Those who work in agriculture are faced with a unique set of conditions that make most traditional microfinance methods unfeasible for them. This post examines some of the reasons why farmers stand apart from other borrowers, and explores the clever efforts of an Ecuadorian Kiva partner to craft a loan product that is appropriate to their needs.

Continue Reading 4 October 2011 at 14:01 2 comments

Motorcycle Madness

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

“Do you know how to ride a motorcycle?” asked the stranger seated directly in front of me, his voice muffled by his helmet.

I thought it a little late to ask, seeing as I was currently gripping his belly from behind as we flew, several mph faster than strict necessity would dictate, around a precipitously tight corner on the edge of the western cordillera of the Andes.

“No,” I said, “I’m supposed to put my hands over your eyes, right?”

Continue Reading 30 September 2011 at 08:36 3 comments

A Song and a Wheelchair Ramp for a New Bank

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF 16, Ecuador

What do a song and a wheelchair ramp have in common? If you are a corporate lawyer in Ecuador, you may know the answer. Everybody else, please read on.
Only recently I learned that my host and Kiva´s partner organization Banco D-MIRO has its own company song! It combines a memorable piece of poetry with a rather inspired composition. A recording follows!

Continue Reading 28 September 2011 at 18:00 2 comments

Update from the Field: Going Pilot to Active, Meeting Borrowers + Technology and Social Performance

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

It has been a busy week for bloggers. The 16th class of Kiva fellows (KF16) hits the ground running and invites you to share their first experiences in their host countries across the globe. Arrive in Georgia just in time for harvest season. Continue to Sierra Leone to watch a new Kiva field partner go from pilot to active. Jump out of a plane in Rwanda – but not without a few parachutes – and learn more about agricultural loans. Bump into a Kiva borrower in Ecuador. Travel to Burkina Faso – a poor country rich in culture. Study the effects of technology on social performance of microfinance institutions in Cambodia. And to top it all off, immerse yourself in the generosity and kindness of the people of Paraguay.

Continue Reading 19 September 2011 at 01:34 7 comments

What are Chances of Meeting a Kiva Borrower in Guayaquil?

By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF 16, Ecuador

Taxi drivers were not in the forefront of my mind when I was walking out of Guayaquil´s international airport into the hot and humid air of this Ecuadorian port city. I had just been welcomed by Rubi Chaca who thankfully was driving me to my hotel. Rubi is the expert in charge of managing the loans made by Kiva lenders at Kiva´s partner organization Banco D-MIRO.
Only minutes before, as my plane was approaching Guayaquil, I had been able to grasp the enormity of this sprawling city. As I was soon to learn, Guayaquil represents a condensed microcosm of the whole country, with all its regions, peoples, and customs being represented. It is a place of extreme contradictions and contrasts…

Continue Reading 14 September 2011 at 16:00 8 comments

Updates from the Field: Loan Sharks, Snapshots + “the Country with a Smile”

Each Kiva borrower enjoys his or her own borrower profile page. We’ve all seen these pages: they acquaint us with the borrower’s story, plans for the future, country, and a photo in their business or home. Borrower profiles present us with a clear snapshot of the ebbs and flows of a borrower’s life. But how can we begin to flesh out what’s beyond the edges of the screen? On the Fellow’s blog, of course!

This week Kiva Fellows bring us a little closer to our borrowers. We try to walk in the shoes of those living under a dollar a day in Nicaragua. We learn about the power of accredited microfinance institutions for the average Ecuadorian. We get a glimpse (and a sample!) of traditional El Salvadorian fare. We marvel at brilliant images of borrowers in their element in Chile and Colombia. And finally we depart Latin America for Senegal, where a Latin phrase can teach us about entrepreneurs the world over: they can, because they think they can. And they do, just as soon as they have the capital to do it.

Continue Reading 29 August 2011 at 02:00 8 comments

Loan Sharks, Microloans and the Highest Interest Rates Around (they aren’t on Kiva)

Small business owners like Marcia Suqui in Cuenca, Ecuador use their microloans to move forward with their businesses and improve their quality of life. Which is terrific news, because afterall this is the idea driving Kiva: small loans can change lives. But not all small loans can improve a business owner’s standing, because the darker side of the “little loan” market in Ecuador is dominated by loan sharks. Taking a loan out from a chulco, Marcia explains, is actually taking few steps backward…

Continue Reading 24 August 2011 at 08:51 7 comments

Update from the Field: Cooking Classes, Autarky + Social Performance

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF15, Togo

This week on the Kiva fellows blog, take a cooking class with a Kiva borrower in Ecuador and learn how to make two mouthwatering local specialties: quimbalitos and tamales. Continue on to Sierra Leone to see how autarky is the goal of Kiva fellowships as well as micro loans. Then return to Ecuador to watch a video about traditional dances, find out about the feeling of “saudade” and reflect on the juxtaposition of poverty and prosperity. Finally, learn how a social performance study can be constructed in Chile.

Continue Reading 15 August 2011 at 05:52 3 comments

Saudades

Yesterday, as I left the office of FODEMI for the final time I felt as if I could not find the words to describe what I was feeling. Both the English and the Spanish languages had failed to provide me with a word that could capture the feeling of happiness and sadness that coexisted rather uncomfortably. There have been some serious ups-and-downs in my summer as a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador. I felt inspired and happy when I met some incredible Kiva borrowers, including an entrepreneur that I had helped fund. But, at other times, I felt frustrated or homesick or like an outsider in the organization and in life in this new country. Sometimes these opposite emotions happened in closer proximity that I’d like to admit. Yet, as I walked down the sidewalk in Ibarra, I wondered about these feelings and struggled to come to terms with how I felt. Was I happy? Yes. Was I sad? Yes!

Continue Reading 13 August 2011 at 23:00 6 comments

Video Blog: For the Love of Fiestas

By Megan Bond, KF15, Ecuador

Music, parades, disguises, fabulous street vendors, dancing in the streets, dancing in the fields, dancing wherever you feel like it – the Ecuadorians I’ve met love a good party and there’s nothing like a traditional fiesta to generate the right mood for all of the above. Fiestas have been a great opportunity for me to join in and have fun with the locals. Villages and towns all over have their own festivals days and there are certain times a year when the entire country is celebrating.

Continue Reading 12 August 2011 at 08:00 2 comments

Ana’s Kitchen: How to Make a Tamale (or a Hundred)

“The stove, the gas, the vegetables, the meat, the pots, and tools, clean water… I have a lot of expenses in my business.” Not to mention the considerable time and energy that Doña Ana Victoria expends making a batch of her delicious tamales. Though she has many costs, Ana makes a fairly steady stream of profits from her market stall. To cover certain start-up costs and her side-business raising pigs, Ana has been lending from Kiva’s Field Partner Fundación ESPOIR for years.

Like most women in Ecuador, Ana Victoria learned how to cook from her mother, who learned it from her mother, and so on. But from here, Ana Victoria is a departure from the norm…

Continue Reading 10 August 2011 at 08:57 1 comment

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