Posts tagged ‘Ecuador’

Update from the Field: Colorful Markets, Microfinance for Students + Springtime Flowers and Celebrations

Compiled by Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Bénin

Springtime has arrived and fellows around the world are celebrating the resfreshing new life springing from the ground. From millions of tulips in Turkey to smelling family members and friends in Mongolia, fellows have been busy embracing the unique cultures of their host countries. Join Isabel as she explores Ecuador’s colorful markets, Natalie as she discovers an innovative mirofinance program run from a high school, and Kim as she celebrates the colorful fields of flowers in Turkey. Finally, see how the debut of spring is enjoyed around the world with Jon in Mongolia, Chris in the Ukraine, Jen in Cambodia, Natalie in Cameroon, and Kiyomi and Emmanuel in Mexico.

Continue Reading 23 April 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Dollarization in Ecuador, where 1 = 1

Isabel Balderrama | KF-17 | Ecuador

Even though I’ve only been living in Ecuador for two weeks, I can safely say that I have already learned the three most important things about this country:

1. Ecuadorians love their karaoke.

2. Salty food is a must.

3. “Delfin hasta el fin” is king (look it up… trust me!)

Ok, so those probably aren’t the most important things… let’s just call them fun facts.

One of Ecuador’s adorable “facts.” (more…)

15 February 2012 at 13:00 1 comment

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

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

To Kiva Fellow or not to Kiva Fellow. Eso e’ la pregunta.

By Robert Gradoville, KF16, Peru

Should I become a Kiva Fellow? I imagine a lot of the Stories From The Field blog followers have considered applying to the Fellowship, or have wondered what the comparison is between the Kiva Fellows Program to similar volunteer or development programs abroad. This may include the Peace Corps, overseas research grants, overseas workshops on topics in development, Fulbright Fellowships, Rotary Scholarships, and possibly service-learning trips if you are currently students. The list goes on and on. And it can seem like a big and slightly mystifying list for anyone who just wants to make a decision and DO SOMETHING!

This post will compare and contrast “what it’s like” to be a Kiva Fellow to the myriad other programs out there.

Continue Reading 20 November 2011 at 20:06 4 comments

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

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

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

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

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

Mud Walls to Mechanical Looms: Borrowers’ Stories

By Megan Bond, KF15, Ecuador

Eight years ago, Manuel told me, their house was very different from the one I was standing in. The walls were made of compressed earth and the roof was constructed out of dried straw. Manuel, his wife Cristiana, and their six children struggled on a daily basis to make ends meet. Looking for a change, they sought their first loan from FODEMI. Eight years and eleven loans later, I stood in their new house/factory. The floors and walls were solidly constructed out of cement and the roof was metal. In the spacious rooms, family members and two hired employees worked at multiple looms weaving thread into cloth.

Continue Reading 8 July 2011 at 12:00 5 comments

Migration and Microloans

By Kate Bennett (KF15), Ecuador

On Monday morning, long before the sun rose on Quito, Fundación Alternativa’s Business Manager, two Loan Officers and I embarked on an all-day journey to remote Chunchi, Ecuador. After the promised “three-and-a-half hour drive, at the most,” we arrived at our final destination another five hours later: a mountaintop with an incredible view of the sun high in the sky and clouds rolling by beneath us.

We met with a group of five Fundación Alternativa borrowers who are taking out a group loan to build a tourism center above Chunchi. These borrowers have made a long voyage to this hilltop as well- these five men, like myself, are from none other than New Jersey! At least, they lived there for a time and have since immigrated back to Ecuador to build the center, which will include a hotel, restaurant, and maybe one day, a spa.

Before you say it: five dudes from New Jersey building a spa? This does not sound like your typical Kiva loan, I know…

Continue Reading 29 June 2011 at 09:15 2 comments

What Does it Take to be Kiva Field Partner: New Partnerships in the Middle of the World, Part I


Of the seven-step process to becoming a Kiva Field Partner, the last step is easily the most exciting. It signifies a new opportunity for Kiva lenders and borrowers, a meaningful development for Kiva, and a promising culmination of work for a potential partner. Before I arrived in Quito, Ecuador two weeks ago, my in-country partner Fundación Alternativa had completed steps one through six of the process. And as I stepped off the plane at Mariscal Sucre International Airport on May 30th, Fundación Alternativa imperceptibly passed from step six to step seven: when Field Partners enter the Pilot Phase, and Kiva sends you a frighteningly enthusiastic Kiva Fellow to get you started.

Continue Reading 13 June 2011 at 15:50 3 comments

No road too muddy for a dedicated loan officer.

By Ellen Willems, KF13, Ecuador.

Ecuador has only two seasons: summer or dry season and winter or wet season. Right now it is winter and it rains almost every day. For the loan officers at Cooperativa San José this rain equals mud and a lot of it. To meet the poorest and most remote borrowers these loan officers spend many challenging hours on their motorcycles navigating bad roads, and, on rainy days, getting wet and covered in mud.
They do this to meet with the members of the “Ventanillas Rurales” (Village Banks). This is a special loan product Cooperativa San José offers to the most remote rural communities. These Village Banks consist of 10 to 30 members and serve as solidarity groups. The loans they take out are relatively small, starting from $600. The loan terms are adjusted to the agricultural needs of the borrowers: the loan cycles vary from 9 to 14 months and the principal is due at the end of the loan term. This way the borrower can buy seeds and fertilizers today and pay back in one year after having sold his/her produce. The most common crops grown are cocoa, corn, yucca, rice, orange, passion fruit and pineapple.

Continue Reading 28 December 2010 at 12:00 3 comments

Prohibition during Ecuador’s census weekend.

By Ellen Willems, KF13, Ecuador

Ecuadorians who dare going out onto the public street this Sunday November 28th or who risk drinking alcoholic beverages between Saturday 27th and Monday 29th face sanctions ranging from two to four days in prison or fines from $7 to $15.
The reason for these measurements is the 7th Ecuadorian Census conducted by the Ecuadorian Institute for Statistics and Census (INEC) on Sunday November 28th between 7am and 5pm.

Continue Reading 27 November 2010 at 12:00 2 comments

The Kiva Community: A Kiva Fellow’s Support System

By Tara Capsuto, KF12 Ecuador / KF 13 Kenya

Kiva is ultimately about people: lenders helping borrowers, borrowers helping themselves, and the staff at MFIs and Kiva who make it all happen. As other Fellows have commented before, one of the many humbling aspects of a Kiva Fellowship is the extent to which people reach out to help. One of the most frequent reactions I got in the field was, “You’re traveling and working completely on your own?!” I would answer that, “Technically, yes, I am.” But, as you’ll see, I wasn’t really alone. Here’s a little window into a Kiva Fellow’s support system.

Kiva Fellows 12th class at training in San Francisco in July

(more…)

9 November 2010 at 16:00 1 comment

The Challenge(s) to Getting a Great Borrower Picture

By Tara Capsuto, KF12, Ecuador

Taking a picture of a Kiva borrower sounds easy enough, right? Snap a picture at his or her business, shrink the photo size, upload to Kiva with the borrower profile. Three easy steps. That´s what I thought before I had the chance to see how very challenging this seemingly simple task can be. As many Kiva Fellows can attest, there are actually lots of challenges to snapping that coveted profile picture, you know that one with the borrower doing their soon-to-be-Kiva-funded work, with good lighting and a big smile? It`s that picture makes you want to make a loan before you even get to the borrower description. I’d like to describe one particular challenge to taking borrower pictures and end with a call for suggestions.

Continue Reading 28 September 2010 at 07:00 10 comments

What’s Everyone Talking About in Quito? Pico y Placa

What is everyone talking about in Quito right now? Pico y placa. Pico y Placa is a policy adopted in May in to control excessive traffic and air and noise pollution during peak hours. Pico refers to peak traffic hours and placa to license plate number.

Continue Reading 8 August 2010 at 07:00 2 comments

When volcanoes take control…/ Quand les volcans prennent le pouvoir

3 weeks ago, on May 28th, “Mother Tungurahua” (“fire throat” in quichua) entered into eruption again…

Il y a 3 semaines, le 28 Mai, « Maman Tungurahua » («gorge de feu» en quechua) est entrée a nouveau en éruption…

Continue Reading 21 June 2010 at 07:35 3 comments

P2P In Action – Lender and Borrower Connect

By Leigh Madeira, KF10 Ecuador

Seeing as it’s my final week in Ecuador, I decided to take Kiva’s commitment to P2P to the max by meeting a borrower who had actually received a loan that I personally made at the start of my Kiva adventure!  After reading Jose´s profile multiple times over the past few weeks, getting to meet him in person was by far one of the coolest things I have done so far as a Kiva Fellow, not just because we shared a connection through my loan, but because Jose has a very inspirational story and is living proof that microfinance works. 

Me with Jose in his store

(more…)

26 April 2010 at 05:28 4 comments

Weaving a Microfinance Success Story…Without the Microfinance?

How did the Otavaleños, Ecuador’s most affluent indigenous group, become so successful? Did microfinance play a role in their development?

Continue Reading 13 April 2010 at 15:36 2 comments

It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby

Although it´s more like Sacagaweas here!

What in the world am I talking about? Well, today, March 13, 2010, is the ten-year anniversary of the US dollar being used in Ecuador. That´s right, most people are unaware that the official currency of Ecuador (and Panama and El Salvador to name a few others) is the United States Dollar.

Continue Reading 13 March 2010 at 05:26 3 comments

Kiva and its Field Partners: Myths and Misconceptions

The more I read the Kiva Fellows blog, the more I realize that there is a lot of controversy surrounding Kiva, its Field Partners, and microfinance in general. While I welcome the discussion, microfinance is a complicated concept and I have noticed that many times the criticisms are based on misconceptions of how Kiva and microfinance really work in the developing world. Below please find a list of the most common misconceptions surrounding the topic along with why, in my humble opinion, they are indeed myths.

Continue Reading 8 March 2010 at 06:47 9 comments

When Microfinance Isn’t Enough: Thoughts from the Rough Roads of Ecuador

Have you ever thought about what the red, white and blue in the American flag represent? While there are many theories, the most popular seems to be the following: white signifies innocence, beauty, and purity (they clearly had the cast of the Jersey Shore in mind when coming up with this one), red for valor and hardiness, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

The Ecuadorian flag, however, has the following meaning: the large yellow band represents “the country’s mineral and agricultural wealth, and its extensive natural resources”, the blue signifies “the ocean, and the clear and clean Ecuadorian skies”, and the red symbolizes “the blood spilled by the heroes who died in the name of their countrymen’s Fatherland and Freedom.”

The significance of the yellow in the flag made me pause…if the country has such mineral and agricultural wealth, why is there so much poverty? According to The World Factbook, over 38% of Ecuador’s population live in poverty (compared to 35% in Cambodia, 30% in the Philippines, and 12% in the USA). The fact that Ecuador’s terrain is so “wealthy” seems to directly contradict the amount of poverty seen here.

Continue Reading 22 February 2010 at 04:18 10 comments

Celebrating Carnaval in South America, Kiva Fellows Style!

Carnaval! The excitement summoned up by uttering those words: Carnaval!

Carnaval is a very interesting holiday for all sorts of reasons, and is celebrated in a variety of forms all across South America, most of which involve colorful costumes, thumpingly loud music, crazy line dancing and (if you’re lucky) some kind of substance rubbed into your head, ranging from shaving cream to flour. Kiva Fellows currently stationed across South America took a break from their workloads in order to scope out the scene …

Continue Reading 20 February 2010 at 05:31 8 comments

Don’t Cry for Me…Ecuador!

As my first entry in the Kiva Fellows Blog, I thought I would answer the obvious question, “Why did you apply to be a Kiva Fellow”?    Leaving a (paying) job to work for free for 3 months doesn’t always sound appealing, yet I could not be more thrilled to start work in Ecuador as a Kiva Fellow at Fundación D-MIRO this Monday.

While filling out my application to become a Kiva Fellow, I was asked to write a short essay answering this very question and I would like to share with you my response:

(more…)

5 February 2010 at 09:16 9 comments

Kiva Climbs the Ecuadorian Andes to Team Up With Its Newest Field Partner

by Josh Wilcox, KF10 Ecuador

Please join me in welcoming the latest Field Partner to the Kiva platform and third in Ecuador, Cooperativa San José!  They are headquartered in the small village of San José de Chimbo and have 5 other branch offices within the Bolivar and Los Ríos provinces.  Located in the heart of the country up in the Andes Mountains, Cooperativa San José offers various types of savings and credit products to its members.

Cooperativa San José will be working with Kiva to administer loans to their ventanillas rurales (group loans in the countryside).  The majority of these borrowers works in agriculture and predominately grows corn, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, among other crops.  Many also raise small animals or have a small store within their home to augment their income, since their harvests often do not provide them with adequate income to support their families.  These farmers will also travel weekly to the fairs in the village to sell their grains, fruits, and vegetables.

(more…)

28 January 2010 at 12:51

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