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