Posts tagged ‘central asia’

Update from the Field: Non-Financial Services, Employment Discrimination + The Dark Side of Sustainable Tourism

Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine

The Quirimbas Archipelago from above - Micaela Browning, Mozambique

The Quirimbas Archipelago from above - Micaela Browning, Mozambique

It’s been a busy week here on Kiva Stories from the Field! Most of our KF17 fellows have been in the field for two months by this point, and they’ve been drawing on their wealth of on-the-ground experience to unpack some of the more complex and troubling aspects of life in their host societies. In a series of fascinating posts, our fellows tackle employment discrimination in Indonesia, the dark side of sustainable tourism in Mozambique, and the difficulty all Kiva Fellows face in keeping sight of our end goal of poverty alleviation – not to mention our most harrowing borrower verification story yet. But there’s plenty of lighter fare this week too. Tag along with our fellows as they join a football club in Togo, help a new partner post its first Kiva profiles in Cameroon, and teach us about the inspirational non-financial services that Kiva’s field partners provide. (more…)

2 April 2012 at 09:00 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

Are Pictures Really Worth More Than a Thousand Words? –En español también

By Eva Nemirovsky, KF11 Kyrgyzstan

Sometimes. But, maybe not for Kyrgyz microfinance borrower using the Kiva platform. Poor Kyrgyz people make sure to look good for pictures, so good, in fact, that one may misleadingly think: “these people don’t need a loan!”

One issue that Kiva often discusses is why some loans are funded faster than others. There are some patterns worth noting, most significantly, that in Central Asia loans take a lot longer to fund. Some have argued this is due to the loan amounts being much greater, however, thus far at Mol Bulak Finance all the borrowers have been part of a group and therefore the loans have not differed too greatly from others on the Kiva website.

My hypothesis is that poverty in post-Soviet Union countries is not easily understood by outside nations. Kyrgyzstan gained its independence less than two decades ago; it is a young State that had almost no political history before Russia fully took over operations around 1920. Similar to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan was a mostly nomadic culture throughout its entire history. The Soviet Union abruptly changed all this and unnaturally imposed its political, economic, and cultural norm onto the Kyrgyz territory.

Not everything was negative; the Soviet Union vastly improved Kyrgyzstan’s living conditions. For one, the USSR was famous for its superior education system and efforts were taken to make all Kyrgyz citizens literate. Fortunately, Kyrgyzstan continues educating its people until the ninth grade. This explains the striking 98.7% literacy rate in the nation today. If one compares this figure with the 39.3% literacy rate in Senegal (another Kiva site), one is automatically inclined to associate this with poverty. It is remarkable to realize that in per capita GDP, Kyrgyzstan rates 184th out of about 195 countries of the world. (Statistics from online CIA factbook)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan lost its vast market and the period effectively drained the country from much of its natural resources. Ultimately, Russia was centerfold and “if the strengthening of the centre required it, a policy of plunder in the borderlands would be proper and correct.” (Sources taken from Kyrgyz Republic by Stewart and Weldon).

Today, Kyrgyzstan has little developed industry. After a seventy-year Soviet rule, innovation is not accessible, business enterprise is difficult. The people living below the poverty line (which account for 40 percent of the country), have a minute variety of jobs to choose from: mainly trading and farming. Working in agriculture is difficult mostly because, if they wish to stay afloat, farmers must learn multiple trades. For example, if a borrower buys a cow with her loan, she cannot dedicate all her time to the livestock because her income would be insufficient—I learned that to raise a cow and use it for mating or meat purposes takes about three years. This borrower also has to: have a daycare, grow potatoes, and be a taxi-driver.

Two weeks ago, the instant I arrived to visit a borrower in Balykchi, he started to negotiate fish prices with the microfinance institute’s driver. I was there to verify that his loan was being used to buy a calf, but I was obligated to wait ten minutes for him to conclude his deal with the driver. Since this borrower’s activities did not make enough money for his household, he had become a part-time fisher.

This form of poverty is something I never had to study in school. When I first saw the Kyrgyz Kiva loans my initial reaction was to think that these borrowers did not need microfinance, but now, having seen it face-to-face, I have learned otherwise.

Pictures can also be deceiving, especially in the former Soviet Union where the legacy of controlled life lives on. To take a picture, or merely to go out of the house, citizens dress up; the possibility of public scorn is just too great.

Eva Nemirovsky is a Kiva Fellow working with Mol Bulak Finance in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Join the Kyrgyzstan lending team. There are borrowers from Kyrgyzstan with Mol Bulak Finance who you can help by contributing to a loan today, and many other entrepreneurs from around the world on the Kiva site.

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Las fotos realmente valen mil palabras?

Por Eva Nemirovsky, KF11 Kirguistán

A veces sí. Pero quizás no para los prestatarios Kirguiz de microfinanzas que usan la plataforma de Kiva. Los pobres de Kirguistán siempre se aseguran de salir bien en las fotos, tan bien, de hecho, que uno equivocadamente podría llegar a pensar: “esta gente no necesita un préstamo”!

Un tema que se discute bastante en Kiva es porque algunos prestatarios son financiados más rápido que otros. Hay algunos patrones interesantes, específicamente que los préstamos en Asia Central tardan mucho más en ser financiados. Algunos argumentan que esto es porque las cantidades de los préstamos son más altas, pero hasta ahora he visto que en Mol Bulak Finance los prestatarios forman parte de grupos y el total de los préstamos no excede la cantidad de otros préstamos ofrecidos en el sitio Kiva.

Mi hipótesis es que la pobreza en países post-soviéticos no es fácilmente comprendida por naciones extranjeras. Kirguistán se independizo hace menos de dos décadas; es un país nuevo que antes de 1920, no tuvo amplia historia política. Como Kazakstán, Kirguistán siempre fue de una cultura nómada. La Unión Soviética cambio todo este esquema y agresivamente impuso nuevas normas políticas, económicas, y culturales.

No todo fue negativo; la Unión Soviética mejoro la calidad de  vida en Kirguistán. La imposición de su sistema superior de educación, es un buen ejemplo. Los rusos se esforzaron para que toda la gente en Kirguistan pudiera ser alfabetizada. Por suerte, hoy Kirguistan sigue ofreciendo educacion publica a sus ciudadanes hasta noveno grado. Esto explica el alfabetismo excelente del 98.7%. Si uno compara esta figura con el  39.3% de Senegal (otra ubicación de Kiva) automáticamente, uno lo conecta con pobreza. Aqui es importante notar que el Producto per Capita PPP en Kirguistan es clasificado como numero 184 de 195 paises! (Estadisticas del CIA Factbook en internet).

Con el colapso de la Union Sovietica, Kirguizstan perdio su mercado enorme y al mismo tiempo empezo a sentir los resultados negativos de los anos de ocupacion en sus recursos naturales. Al final, el territorio ruso era lo más importante en la época soviética, “si para fortalecer el centro se precisaba, la política del pillaje en las aéreas bordeando Rusia no sería problema y seria la acción correcta”. (Fuentes tomadas de Kyrgyz Republic por Stewart y Weldon).

Hoy, Kirguistán tiene poca industria desarrollada. Después 70 años de ser administrada por una política soviética, la innovación no es accesible, emprendimiento es difícil. Las personas que viven bajo la linea de pobreza (40% del país) tienen una variedad muy limitada de trabajos: mayoritariamente comercio y actividades agropecuarias. Trabajando en agricultura es difícil porque para sobrevivir los granjeros tienen que aprender múltiples comercios. Por ejemplo, si un prestatario compra una vaca con su préstamo, ella no puede decidirse todo su tiempo al animal porque su salario no sería suficiente—aprendí que criar una vaca para que tenga crias o para comer lleva tres años. Este prestatario también debe: proveer un servicio para cuidar niños, crecer papas, y ser taxista.

Hace dos semanas, cuando llegue a la casa de un prestatario en Balykchi, empezó a negociar precios de pescado con el chofer del instituto de microfinanza. Yo estaba visitando para verificar que el préstamo se estaba usando para comprar una vaca, pero fui obligada a esperar 10 minutos para que el prestatario y el chofer terminen su negociación. Este prestatario no ganaba lo suficiente con sus actividades agrícolas y fue obligado a hacerse un pescador part-time.

Este tipo de pobreza es algo que nunca estudie en la escuela. La primera vez que vi los prestatarios de Kirguistán en el sitio de Kiva pensé que los prestatarios no precisaban la microfinanza, pero ahora, después de haberlo visto con mis propios ojos, aprendí que no es así.

Las fotos pueden enganar. Especialmente en países post soviéticos donde el recuerdo de una vida bien controlada sigue viva. Para sacarse una foto, o simplemente para salir a la calle, los ciudadanos se visten bien; la posibilidad de ser mal vistos por el público es demasiado dañina.

Eva Nemirovsky es un Kiva Fellow trabajando con Mol Bulak Finance en Bishkek, Kirguistán. Únete al Kyrgyzstan lending team. Hay prestatarios de Kirguistán que están con Mol Bulak Finance a quienes tú puedes ayudar contribuyendo a un préstamo hoy.

30 May 2010 at 05:15 7 comments

Behind The Curtain – Getting a New MFI on the Kiva Platform

A Kiva entrepreneur in Kyrgyzstan who has also created a Center of Temporary Stay for Orphaned Children using her own funds and resources. Click to learn more.

A Kiva entrepreneur in Kyrgyzstan who has also created a Center of Temporary Stay for Orphaned Children using her own funds and resources. Click to learn more.

By Boris Mordkovich, KF8 – Kyrgyzstan

After doing a Kiva Fellowship in Tajikistan during February and March of this year, I’ve returned to Kiva this summer to do another placement in Kyrgyzstan.

Within the first two weeks at the micro-finance institution, it became very clear that this placement will be quite different from the first one. It’s actually quite amazing how much things can vary from one MFI to the other, from one country to another.

The main difference between the two placements is that the first MFI I was working with in Tajikistan was already on the Kiva platform for over a year when I arrived. They already had an established system in place for collecting data and posting profiles of their borrowers on the website. And while there was some room for improvements here and there, as a whole, it functioned very well. (more…)

25 June 2009 at 06:00 1 comment


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