Posts filed under ‘Armenia’

United They Stand: The First Steps in Micro-finance

By Ward Lassoe / KF-18 / Armenia

Recently, I had the chance to experience micro-finance at its very earliest stages. It started with a visit to some Kiva borrowers in the one of the poorer regions of Armenia. We were in the northeastern corner of the country, near the border with Azerbaijan.

This farmer and others got loans through Nor Horizon, one of Kiva’s partners in Armenia, but there are many other local farmers who are not financially stable enough to qualify for a Kiva loan. That may change soon thanks to a new initiative where local farmers are banding together to improve their overall economic situation. (more…)

14 July 2012 at 08:00 3 comments

Apricots, Vodka, and Videotape: My introduction to Armenian hospitality

By Ward Lassoe / KF-18 / Armenia

I’d read about Armenian hospitality. I’d heard about it. But last week, I got a chance to experience it.

My first assignment as a Kiva Fellow was to videotape interviews with current and past borrowers in Armenia. I’m lucky because these interactions with local borrowers are always a highlight of a Kiva Fellowship.

But as I headed out the first day with some staff members from SEF International (one of Kiva’s micro-finance partners in Armenia), I wasn’t sure how the experience would go. How would the borrowers react to being videotaped? Would the whole process be awkward and uncomfortable?  (more…)

1 July 2012 at 08:00 24 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

New Beginnings

By Caree Edson, KF14, Armenia

I was having lunch with a colleague who wants to practice his English when he offered to take me out into the field to witness a day in the life of a regional manager. It was here that I realized that sometimes years worth of schooling happens in a single day on the other side of the world and there is no substitute for witnessing first-hand how and why microfinance works.

Continue Reading 28 April 2011 at 09:44 2 comments

Share Taxis Around The World: The How, Why & Design

By Adam Cohn, Kiva Fellow KF14, Kigali, Rwanda

Share taxis around the world exhibit a variety of names, including Poda-Poda, Tro-Tro, Marshrutka, Jitney, Bemo, and Bush Taxi. Similarly, the colors and designs of the share taxis vary wildly, right down to this Justin Bieber minibus in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kiva Fellow Adam Cohn takes a look at how share taxis work, and shows photos of these colorful carpools from around the world.

Rwanda: That Bieber Fever

Continue Reading 26 April 2011 at 11:00 7 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’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

Happy Earth Day from Kiva Fellows around the Globe!

Compiled by Caree Edson, KF 14, Armenia

One of the unfortunate sight-seeing adventures that you never sign up for when you travel (especially in developing countries) is the unseemly amount of trash cluttering the otherwise beautiful landscapes. In Armenia, it isn’t possible to see the horizon through the smog most days and the streets are covered in cigarette butts and litter. I found no exceptions to this as I inquired from other Kiva Fellows about the dire situation in their countries. Environmental education and reform are simply not a top priority in many countries. But the future of climate change initiatives are not entirely hopeless…

Continue Reading 22 April 2011 at 11:06 3 comments


By Caree Edson, KF 14, Armenia

There were incredible stories of resiliency on the Kiva website that moved me to sacrifice my stable income, access to hot water and balanced nutrition, not to mention consistent contact with my friends and family back home for a few short months in pursuit of furthering my knowledge in the field of microfinance. In short, the reason I became a Kiva Fellow was to fulfill Kiva’s mission of “connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty”. I could think of nothing I’d rather be doing with my days than meeting farmers and small business owners on the other side of the world and sharing their stories with all of you. I informed a few borrowers last week that I journeyed all the way from the US to meet them and hear their stories, and I meant every word.

Continue Reading 20 April 2011 at 04:22 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

“The Good Family”

By Caree Edson, KF14, Armenia

It was about noon on a gorgeous Spring day in Goris, Armenia when I showed up at the local SEF branch to meet the employees there. Goris is stunning in its natural beauty. The city center resides at the bottom of a bowl with caves and mountains towering on every side.

The tiny, three-person staff of the SEF branch welcomed me with tea, brownies and chocolate (a custom I plan to take back home with me) and were thrilled for the opportunity to show me around. The only question was how many borrowers I would like to visit. Since the day was getting later, I asked them to pick their two favorite Kiva borrowers and introduce me. With no agenda, other than training on how to take fabulous profile photos, we were off on a four-wheel drive trek around the villages to see two of the area’s farmers.

Continue Reading 3 April 2011 at 12:36 5 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: 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

New Horizons- A Fellow’s First Field Visit

By Caree Edson, KF 14, Armenia

While Kiva works with three microfinance institutions in Armenia, I have, thus far, only had the privilege to spend time with the staff at one. When I was offered an opportunity to do some Borrower Verifications for Nor Horizon (another partner institution), I jumped at the chance. Borrower Verifications, while requiring a lot of time and effort on the part of the fellows, are by far the best part of this journey. They entail going out into the field with credit officers and meeting with clients to ensure the accuracy of the information being uploaded on Kiva’s website. In Armenia this makes for a fantastic way to spend a Friday.

Continue Reading 19 March 2011 at 05:22 4 comments

Update from the Field: Carnival, Collaboration + Cheese-Making

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

This past week was all about collaboration: Fellows coordinating across continents to profile entrepreneurs and organizations who believe International Women’s Day should be every day and community members coming together to celebrate Carnival in all of its elaborate glory. We learned about public health in Peru, making cheese and cigars in Nicaragua, the impact of climate change in Bolivia, and the challenges faced by a microcredit saleswoman in Guatemala. Life as a Kiva Fellow is busy as always!

Continue Reading 14 March 2011 at 00:45 8 comments

Expectations vs. Reality

By: Abhishek Banerjee, KF13, Armenia

As my fellowship at SEF International comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on my experience. I compare it to the expectations I had before arriving in Yerevan and to the experiences the other fellows have had in their respective countries. While I knew very little about Armenia before coming here, I had read everything (not much!) I could find. Some of my expectations were fully surpassed. Others helped me understand the problems the country faces going forward.

Continue Reading 29 January 2011 at 11:59 1 comment

Kiva Fellows: Kicking off 2011 Around the World

By Kiva Fellows, Various corners of the globe

Around the world, Kiva Fellows are kicking off 2011 in all sorts of different ways. Here’s what a handful of KF13-ers are doing to ring in the New Year. Enjoy and Happy 2011!

Continue Reading 1 January 2011 at 11:35 1 comment

No Place Like Home

By Abhishek Banerjee, KF13, Armenia

This is the first Christmas I will be spending away from home. Even though I left home at 18 and have spent a lot of time travelling on my own, I have always made it back in time for the holidays. This time around, I will be celebrating with a bunch of expats and some Armenians who find Christmas on December 25th to be amusing enough to get involved.

You see, Armenians follows the Gregorian calendar and as such, Christmas falls on January 6th. As a result, December 25th is just another day for most Armenians. Occasionally, someone will see a foreigner like myself and say ‘Merry Christmas!’, if only to see my reaction. As I sit here on the evening of December 24th, I can’t help but think about Christmas back home.

Continue Reading 25 December 2010 at 19:00

Goodbye Mr. Socialism

In 1991, the Soviet Union broke apart and Armenia re-established its independence. However, remnants of its Soviet history can be found throughout the country. Major infrastructure projects implemented under Soviet leadership still stand tall throughout the cities. One of the more interesting transformations across Yerevan has been the emergence of markets in former industrial or commercial buildings.

Continue Reading 10 December 2010 at 13:30 1 comment

Devil is in the Execution

By Abhishek Banerjee, KF13 Armenia

Spending the last couple of days in the beautiful landscape of rural Armenia has left me in awe. It has also given me an appreciation for the role that loan officers play in often trying circumstances to get their job done.

Continue Reading 15 November 2010 at 10:00 4 comments

Sharing my Desk with a Tractor…

By Vanick Der Bedrossian, KF12 – Armenia
“What in the world is a diesel earth tractor doing in my MFI’s office!”, I thought to myself as I walked into Nor Horizon Credit Organization’s central office here in Yerevan, Armenia. Being a bit nervous on my first day at work, I did not ask.

Continue Reading 11 August 2010 at 00:16 4 comments

10 Things I Learned

By Peter Tashjian, KF11 Armenia

10 Random Things I Learned during my Kiva Fellowship:

1. Most people are good but carry memories of bad experiences. As soon as they address and resolve their interpretation of those experiences, their outlook on life improves almost immediately.

2. It’s a very emotional and life changing experience when a Kiva “Borrower Profile” you helped post is funded by hundreds of amazing “strangers” from around the world. Seeing the smiling faces of these lenders is very empowering.

3. Though the media reports mostly the negatives, the good work being done behind the scenes far outweigh the negatives which media chooses to focus on.

4. Kiva lends to entrepreneurs who are already on the road to helping themselves.  This is not charity.

5. Being a Kiva Fellow is challenging work.  The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more effective you become in your mission to help reduce poverty.

6. When you are happy with yourself, everything and everyone around you suddenly improve. 

7. I learned that the Armenian people in Yerevan, Armenia are art lovers. They make the art accessible to ordinary citizens and tourists by frequently having free concerts in various city centers along with art exhibitions.

8. Delicious apricots were originated in Armenia. A song by the name of Apricot Stone was entered in Eurovision 2010.

9. I was reminded that my life in Los Angeles is amazing, though I often forget this.

10. Don’t underestimate how much “strangers” care.  Just look at the lenders on if you need a reminder.

1 July 2010 at 13:59 2 comments

An 8 Word Blog inspired by Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”, featuring Marlon Brando

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Kiva – Loans that change Lives.

14 June 2010 at 13:07 4 comments

Should we be lending to men?

Recently, some interesting data was brought to my attention. Apparently women entrepreneurs are able to raise funds more quickly than men in the world of Kiva.

Continue Reading 31 May 2010 at 23:12 13 comments

The secret to longevity

I noticed an elderly lady quickly climbing up a small hill. My first reaction was, what is she doing and why? I was rather surprised to see her climb this rather steep small hill at her age and her determination seemed unwavering. I few minutes later it became clear.

Continue Reading 19 May 2010 at 12:41 7 comments

On the vanity of words

Coming back to Montaigne’s essay “On the Vanity of words”, we realize simply talking about something does not provide the satisfaction and impact as doing it.

Continue Reading 10 May 2010 at 09:05 2 comments

Does the world care about you?

While we go around looking for that one person who can be our “world”, we sometimes forget that there is a “real world” out there as well

Continue Reading 4 May 2010 at 07:14 14 comments

Kiva takes on Google?

Kiva goes where Google stops.

Continue Reading 23 April 2010 at 11:54 10 comments

‘Exotic’ Armenia

Alongside Lake Sevan, traditional breeding ground of Armenian ishkhan (or Sevan trout), runs a highway dotted with low-roofed, boxlike structures and, in front of them, thick-jacketed men, bundled up against the late-winter chill. Traveling this route with a few staff members from Kiva’s Field Partner “Nor Horizon,” I observed a sales tactic the likes of which I’d never seen before.

At our approach, each man would take a step or two toward the road and stretch wide his arms, holding them out until we had passed.

I must have had a puzzled look on my face after seeing this happen two or three times, because Nor Horizon’s Kiva Coordinator turned to me and asked, “Do you know what they’re doing?”

Continue Reading 5 April 2010 at 09:20 3 comments

The Taxing Taxation of Microfinance

A business reporter I’ve befriended here in Yerevan once told me, “There’s one thing you can guarantee any businessman in Armenia will say in an interview — just ask him if his company is profitable. He’ll always say no.”

Only profitable companies pay taxes. There’s no reason to boast about being profitable – especially when it comes time to (theoretically) pay taxes. There are some very successful businessmen in Armenia, with companies that continue to grow year after year, yet don’t ever seem to turn profits.

Not only is this a significant revenue for the Armenian government, it means microfinance institutions shoulder an extra tax burden simply because of the nature of their business.

Continue Reading 4 April 2010 at 14:33 12 comments

The Mayors of Microfinance

By Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

After making several visits to various borrower communities in the rural villages throughout Armenia, I started to notice a familiar figure emerge.  Each village seemed to have a mayor.  Not a mayor in the traditional, sash-wearing, top-hat donning, political scandal-causing sense, but a mayor of microfinance. (more…)

22 December 2009 at 14:27 3 comments

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