Posts tagged ‘Burkina Faso’

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

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

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

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: Learning from adversity and environmentally-friendly stoves. Plus, more on Kiva Zip

Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18 | Bolivia

Another week, another helping of great posts brought to you by our intrepid Kiva Fellows. In this edition of Update from the Field we have a few very different posts competing for our interest. As one Fellow deals with the complexities of setting up and overseeing a new type of Kiva product, Kiva Zip, another continues learning more about the unique ways her MFI’s partnership with Kiva helps those least fortunate, and a third deals with the health consequences of living in West Africa. Whether keeping it close to home or exploring the furthest reaches of our planet, KF-18′s posts this week are sure to keep  you very well entertained and informed.

Continue Reading 23 July 2012 at 09:00 5 comments

Now you’re cooking with gas…

Diana Biggs | KF 18 | Burkina Faso

As mentioned in my previous posts, the Field Partner I’m working with, Entrepreneurs du Monde (EdM), is not a microfinance institution in itself – however, the use of microfinance is key to its mission, as it allows EdM to distribute their socially focused projects in a way that can become financially sustainable.

The focus of Kiva’s partnership is EdM’s cookstove project, newly named “Nafa Naana” which can be understood both in Moré and Dioula – the two local languages most spoken in Burkina Faso – roughly translating to “the benefit has come,” “that which you easily win” or “the facility is there.” (Read about it on EdM’s West Africa Blog – and , if you’re really keen, starting picking up some Moré!).  Nafa Naana’s mission is to make environmentally-friendly energy products – such as gas and energy efficient stoves – available in Burkina Faso, even to the poorest and most remote households.

Projet Nafa Naana

Nafa Naana team with the improved cookstoves

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20 July 2012 at 08:09 6 comments

Update from the Field: Innovation, Vibrant Cities and Stories and Lessons from Borrowers

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 + KF18 | Guatemala

It’s official – the Fellows have taken to the field! This week’s update touches on many different Fellows’ experiences visiting Kiva borrowers in the field and traces the similarities and differences we face in our borrower visits, all with a strong undertone of inspiration. Let’s face it folks, this is why we chose to volunteer 3+ months of our time for the Fellowship – to talk to the very people that you read about on Kiva.org. However, it is also clear through posts that cover other topics that a Kiva Fellowship is a much more diverse package than simply meeting Kiva borrowers; it comes with a number of side effects that include living in vibrant locations, jumping to the forefront of the field of microfinance, meeting inspirational people on our off time, and many more. As always, expect to learn some new things from this week’s stories from the field.

Continue Reading 16 July 2012 at 09:00 5 comments

Doing Good in ‘Dougou

Diana Biggs | KF 18 | Burkina Faso

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to take part in «la Journée du Volontariat Français», an event at the French Institute of Ouagadougou which aims to promote the actions of French volunteers in Burkina Faso.  As I commended my French colleague for the generosity of his fellow French citizens, he explained to me that although the best translation I seem to be able to find for «Volontariat » is «Volunteer », it is not the same as volunteers who actually work for free, for whom the term « bénévoles » is used (Hello, Kiva Fellows!).

French Institute

Enter “la Journée du Volontariat Français”…

In its second iteration, the event attracted around 500 attendees: Authorities, volontariats, associations and NGOs. Despite its name, it wasn’t a day just for the French, but was also well attended by “Burkinabés” (the term for people from Burkina Faso) – and even one Canadian… (more…)

9 July 2012 at 09:15 1 comment

Update from the Field: Client training in Mexico, saying “hello!” to Burkina Faso, + learn a little bit about Albania!

Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18 | Bolivia

The road to work

The road to fellow DIana Biggs’ job in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

This week our intrepid team of KF-18 fellows brings us an interesting mix of stories from a wide variety of countries. From taking a lesson on how to raise and care for sheep in Mexico, to learning more about little-known countries such as Burkina Faso and Albania, this week’s posts are sure to keep your interest. Read on for a fellow’s take on what it is that’s keeping Africa from achieving unity and to catch a glimpse of what a fellow’s first few days at work are like in a new and challenging environment.

Bonne Arrivée: Welcome to Ouagadougou
Diana Biggs | KF18 | Burkina Faso
Freshly arrived to our favorite city to pronounce, Diana tells us a little bit about the challenges, and the joys, of living and working in her hot and humid new environment.

A United Africa Part One: What is standing in the way?
Carissa Look | KF18 | Ghana
Here, Carissa brings us Part One of a two-part blog about the political and communication barriers that face the countries of Africa throughout their quest to become a more united continent. In this first installment Carissa explains how Africa’s sheer size is a great impediment to its countries working together.

 Mexican Tale of Women and Sheep
Emmanuel M. von Arx | KF 16+17 | Mexico
In his last post, Emmanuel covered FRAC’s involvement with “Mexico’s greatest artisan fair” and thus made us aware of some of the non-financial services that this partner MFI provides its clients. In this post, Emmanuel stays on this topic by telling us about another non-financial service provided by FRAC: Sheep-rearing courses provided by a UNAM-educated veterinarian. Read on to learn a little more about the benefits of this service, and also if you’ve always been curious as to why sheep have four stomach compartments.

A United Africa Part Two: Why is my internet so slow, why are my phone calls so expensive and what can be done about it to unite Africa, enhance Kiva, and speed development?
Carissa Look | KF18 | Ghana
After reading this first installment about some of the possible geopolitical causes for a lack of unity in the African continent, Carissa moves on to analyze the high cost of telecommunications as a culprit for some African nation’s lack of cooperation with its neighbors and the rest of the world. In this post, Carissa also explains how these challenges affect Kiva’s work in Ghana.

Spotlight on Europe’s most mysterious country
Alice Reeves | KF18 | Kosovo & Albania
As you might remember, on her last post Alice enlightened us on one of her two assigned destinations: Pristina, Kosovo. This time around we are taken on a brief historical and geographical tour of Albania, her second destination, and she also introduces us to VisionFund Albania (VFA), the partner MFI she will also be working with.

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Updates from the Past Month:

Update from the Field
Life as a Fellow in San Francisco, a walk through an art fair + becoming part of a winning soccer team
Appreciating Volunteers & Poetry from a Newly Arrived Fellow
Introducing joinFITE.org, a new platform designed to empower women in entrepreneurship

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Plus, more pictures from the past week:

Diana’s sweltering office in Ouagadougou

Diana Biggs’ adorable alarm clock

Veterinarian Linda Velázquez giving FRAC clients and fellow Emmanuel a presentation on how to properly care for sheep

9 July 2012 at 08:00 4 comments

Bonne Arrivée: Welcome to Ouagadougou

By Diana Biggs | KF18 | Burkina Faso

One week ago today, I touched down in my new home of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The greetings of “Bonne Arrivée!” I received at the airport are now echoed each morning as I arrive at my field partner’s office and each evening as I return home and  am greeted by my night guardian, Adama.

The road to work

A quieter street in Ouaga…

Continue Reading 3 July 2012 at 08:55 10 comments

Update from the Field: Thoughts on Home (New and Old), Fun Experiences and First Days

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 + KF18 | Guatemala

As we begin to get a feel for our new placements and our new countries, we Fellows have also begun to ponder items ranging from local business realities to simply why we love what we do. The nine posts in this update give a great deal of insight into the work of a Fellow, local culture in the locations in which we are placed, and most importantly, where these elements come together to give a brief overview of what it means to be a newly-arrived Kiva Fellow.

Continue Reading 2 July 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Same Same but Different

Allison Moomey | KF 16 & KF17 | Bénin

One of my favorite aspects of Kiva is the autonomy it gives to partners. While Kiva has strict due diligence standards, the microfinance institution (MFI) partners are the ones who decide what products to offer, what social performance steps to take, and how to execute their plans. This results in a wide range of partners, each with its own unique culture and take on how to best serve the microfinance market in their respective areas of operation.

Having started my second Kiva fellowship a month ago, it has been fascinating to compare and contrast the work culture at each MFI. During KF16, I served as a fellow at Micro Start in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I am currently in Cotonou, Bénin working with Finadev. Although the countries share a border, the people, language, and culture are very unique.

Continue Reading 28 February 2012 at 09:06 11 comments

Same Continent, Different Worlds: Part 1

By Kiva Fellows in Africa, KF16
Compiled by Tejal Desai

Where might you find muzungu hunting? Where do Kenya’s elite runners hail from? And what do most borrowers in Burkina Faso use their business profits for? Kiva Fellows from KF16 bring you a unique perspective from the diverse and vast continent of Africa! We patched together an overview of each of our placement countries that includes: basic socioeconomic stats, common stereotypes (and to what extent they are true or false), greatest challenges, most common loan products at our respective field partners, and the borrowers’ most common use of their profits. This first post of a two-part series focuses on Kenya, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso. We hope our summaries give you a new perspective on the continent and its distinct countries that we’ve been fortunate to explore during the Kiva fellowship!

Continue Reading 31 December 2011 at 13:00

A Day in the Life Part I: Kiva Coordinator

By Allison Moomey, KF16, Burkina Faso

I was a fan of Kiva long before I realized there were real people who make those profiles miraculously appear on Kiva’s website. Likely, you’re a bit more aware. Or perhaps you’re like me, and you’ve just never thought about it. If so, this is like the Santa revelation… there aren’t gnomes behind the screen, but instead hard-working, committed groups of people. Either way, this is the first in a series of posts dedicated to them and all that they do!

There are so many people behind the posting of a single profile, and this is just part one in a series of posts to give each a bit of exposure. We’ll begin with the person running the Kiva show at the MFI-level: the Kiva Coordinator (in Kiva-speak, the KC). Now, this position looks different at each MFI. At some larger partners, the KC may solely be doing Kiva work. At many- like Kiva’s fabulous first partner in Burkina Faso, Micro Start- it’s just one of many things on his/her plate.

Continue Reading 14 October 2011 at 07:47 4 comments

Waga-what?!

By Allison Moomey, KF16, Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou- pronounced Wagadugu and lovingly referred to as Ouaga by those who live here- is home to Micro Start, Kiva’s first partner in the small west African country of Burkina Faso. If you’re like most, you’re wondering … Is that a country? Where? I must know it by another name. Is it a new country? Why have I never heard of it?

Yes it’s a country. In West Africa. It’s previous name was the Republic of the Upper Volta (awesome). No, it’s not a new country. I’m not sure why few have heard of it, but I would venture to guess because it’s small, stable, and poor. African countries don’t tend to make the news when they’re peaceful and lack global economic impact.

Continue Reading 27 September 2011 at 15:15 6 comments

The Cultural Complexities of Poverty Alleviation

By Allison Moomey, KF 16, Burkina Faso

About 3 weeks ago I arrived in Burkina Faso, ready and excited to work with Micro Start, Kiva’s first partner in the west African country. Micro Start has an amazing mission “to improve families’ living conditions in general, and that of women in particular, by facilitating access to financial and non-financial services” and a conscientious staff who start working at 7:30am to carry it out. This is Micro Start’s Kiva Coordinator (KC) and I at the office during one my first days:

Continue Reading 15 September 2011 at 10:20 3 comments


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