Posts tagged ‘www.kiva.org.’
Spring has arrived in Mongolia! That means warmer weather (afternoons creeping closer and closer to the double digits)… and, of course, baby animals!
Visiting borrowers in rural Costa Rica
By all accounts, borrower verifications (BVs) have been a highlight for all Kiva Fellows who have had them on their work plans. I started mine last week, but I have to admit I went into them feeling apprehensive—especially since not all borrowers fully understand how Kiva works or how Kiva is even related to them. (more…)
Julie Kriegshaber | KF 18 | Uganda
On my seemingly endless journey from NYC to Kampala, Uganda, I barely slept at all.
Free movies on the plane, my recently updated Spotify playlists, even SkyMall – none of it appealed to me. Why? I was so engrossed in my book, Freedom From Want, that tells the story of BRAC and how it evolved from a small, temporary solution to a devastating cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970 to today being the largest development organization in the world by many counts.
We all are familiar with Bangladesh’s other major development export, the Grameen Bank, but what shocked me is how relatively unknown BRAC is outside of development circles in the west.
This year marks BRAC’s 40th anniversary -after growing for 30 years in Bangladesh, BRAC in the past 10 years has expanded to 10 other countries, including Uganda, where it is (no surprise here!) the largest NGO in the country. With operations reaching 2.8 million Ugandans, BRAC Uganda is a true all-in-one development organization with specialized programs from education to health to empowering young women to improving small businesses through microloans.
From what I have seen as a Fellow at BRAC Uganda, I think there are 3 distinct features in many of their programs that make BRAC as an organization so successful. In light of Kiva’s monthly theme “A Global Feast”, I am going to highlight these features in regard to BRAC Uganda’s agricultural development programme. (This is also convenient for me since I am preparing to roll out BRAC Uganda’s agricultural loans on Kiva!)
By Muskan Chopra | KF18 | Kenya
Sitting in the Virgin Atlantic flight to London after 10 weeks in the field, I knew of one thing with absolute certainty – Kenya will rightfully own a piece of me forever.
Never have I found myself in a new country, expecting it to change me. But Kenya surpassed all unreasonable expectations. Seeing such diversity of nature, living in local communities, soaking in the culture, meeting small people with big dreams… I transformed myself.
Obviously, as a Kiva Fellow, I’m always excited to hear about how our field partners offer savings to their clients. While I was unaware of the agenda of this last weekend’s UGAFODE-wide training, I was pleasantly surprised to be a part of personal Savings Account utilization and client mobilization! The whole weekend was not only necessary but also fun and interesting. While the first day focused on team building with trust games and group coordination exercises, the second day was designated to Savings Account mobilization.
This savings aspect of UGAFODE has only recently been a possibility and after much hard work and restructuring of the organization. This field partner only became a Micro Deposit Taking Institution (MDI) on September 23, 2011, but they are moving quickly to utilize this capacity in the products they offer to their clients.
Now, back to the training we received on Savings Mobilization. I was impressed that the first half of the training was dedicated to training all ~135 employees in personal savings practices and recommendations. The reason being, “How can you tell a client to save when you yourself don’t know how?” Although, some of the tips were quite basic they were good reminders of how and why we save.
Next, we split into groups to discuss the different forms of savings that clients utilize and why they do this. I knew that micro business clients use often unorthodox forms of savings, but this really opened my eyes to other barriers that institutions have to encourage and educate people toward savings. Although, saving in a bank is not always the best option, many times it is a far better option then the alternative. In Uganda, with an economic history of bank closures and untrustworthy institutions, many people are hesitant to trust their money with an organization. One of the facilitators shared a story that he had a group of woman that he was helping open savings accounts for. When he filled out the paper work and took their cumulatively substantial amount of $6,000 he brought back passbooks (small ledgers recording account activity) that were worth $0.25. The women were confused and angry that they gave him all that money and they only got a cheap book to replace it.
I have learned that this is the kind of context that many of the rural branches of UGAFODE deal with on a daily basis. When improving the financial literacy of low-income clients it is not telling them that saving is a good habit, but rather how will they directly benefit from savings. The credit officers’ job is to not only to disburse loans and savings accounts, but to educate clients on the benefits of savings. What they call customer sensitization was heavily emphasized in training, to not only explain the benefits, but also the step-by-step deposit and withdrawal terms of any given account.
I was somewhat unaware of the marketing aspect of savings accounts, but now totally understand that savings accounts not only benefit the borrower with safe and secure savings but also with interest. And while this is a great social mission for UGAFODE, it makes sense for them to increase their clients’ savings portfolio, so that they have access to this cheaper form of capital that they can then lend to other borrowers.
I love these win-win situations for all parties involved! Now, I’m currently compiling a report to propose to UGAFODE to give back to their Kiva borrowers by opening a fixed deposit savings account for 3-6 months that would be given to Kiva clients who make all their repayments on time. Therefore, only clients with good repayment histories would receive a reward by a portion of the interest charged by UGAFODE deposited into this account at the loan-end date. The fixed term of 3-6 months would inherently teach clients the benefits of savings and hopefully encourage continued utilization.
Please share with me any ideas or recommendations for this!
Jon is a second-term Kiva fellow volunteering in Kampala, Uganda with UGAFODE. From the desolate plains of Mongolia to the lush jungle and mountains of Uganda, Jon has been experiencing much of the amazing world of Micofinance. If you like what he has said about UGAFODE, make a loan to any of their clients here.
Luan Nio and Olivia Hanrahan-Soar | KF18 | Nicaragua and Zambia
Kiva works hard to facilitate a connection between lenders and borrowers, through photographs, video interviews, and email updates from the borrowers themselves. Nothing compares, though, to the experience of being able to meet that borrower in person and see how your funds and the funds of others have had a tangible impact on his or her life.
Two Kiva fellows recently got the extraordinary opportunity to visit a borrower they had personally lent money to.
Luan from Rotterdam, The Netherlands <-> Alejandro Jose from El Sauce, Nicaragua
By Olivia Hanrahan-Soar | KF18 | Zambia and South Africa
Right now, I’m in the middle of a Zambian road trip. I’m working with one of Kiva’s newest non-traditional partners, Mobile Transactions Zambia (MTZ): a business which provides funds to entrepreneurs who want to own mobile money kiosks all over Zambia. This is Kiva’s first foray into mobile money, and it’s proving to be extremely valuable for the borrowers as well as their communities. Msanide, for instance, wants to become an MTZ agent: instead of transporting cold, hard cash, people will be able to use Msanide’s shop to send money quickly, safely and cheaply all over the country.
Check out Mundia and Muyoyeta for more : I’ve visited both of them this week, via a small odyssey involving a two-day drive through a nature reserve, home to the Zambian cheetah, and a mosquito-infested swamp crossing. These guys are great examples of how mobile money technology is connecting rural communities to the rest of the economy: like M-PESA in Kenya, MTZ has the potential to be a real catalyst for change in Zambia. (more…)
By Anya Raza | KF18 | Pakistan
Secretly, every fellow really just wants to be in the field.
The thrill-seekers in us wish to go to obscure far-flung places, desperate and desolate, yet magical in our minds.
In my case, not even our car breaking down could hold me back. So off we went, three women on a dusty road. Sometimes we need life to slow down around us, to match the pace of our surroundings. As we moseyed our way through the village, we passed a local mela (fair), complete with food stands, game stalls and a theme park.
The sight of a Ferris wheel halted my breath – my daytime reverie saw me floating above this tiny village less than two hours from Lahore, thrust into a utopian state of oblivion. Upon close inspection I realised there was no one in it, and I was told tearfully that these operate on generators, therefore the chances of dangling above my dreams were high. Ah, it’s just as well. (more…)
Julie Kriegshaber | KF 18 | Uganda
Ahh, Kampala. So charming, so dusty, so chaotic.
Due to a bit of poor planning on my part, I had about 32 hours between landing in Kampala and starting my Fellowship, so my first week here was a bit of a blur. Somewhere within the disorder of my first days, I met two Ugandans with inspiring stories that stuck out to me, and I want to share their stories here.
So, meet Walter and Destreet. They don’t know each other and their only common link (aside from meeting me!) is that they both had a vision and decided to make it a reality. Oh, and they are both young – Walter is 25 and Destreet is only 24!
By Kimberly Strathearn, KF 16/17, Turkey
Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” Anonymous
National Volunteer Week 2012 (April 15-21) has come and gone and despite my best intentions to post this blog during that week–it didn’t happen. But that does not mean I appreciate our SUPER Maya volunteers any less, in fact, I am going to use this blog as the perfect chance to brag about some of the individuals and schools that volunteer for Maya. Some translate Maya Entrepreneur Profiles and Journal Updates from Turkish to English while others help out with more technical translations or other projects.
When I first started my Fellowship back in September 2011 with KF 16, I immediately recognized that since Maya is such a small program, the Kiva Coordinator is out in the field 3-4 days a week, and none of the loan officers speak English, we were going to need some help getting the profiles and journal updates translated.
Through some groups I belong to here in Istanbul, I sent out some notices seeking volunteers. I was blown away by the response but shouldn’t have been because I know that volunteer opportunities can be hard to find and a logistical nightmare (traffic and Istanbul is a large city).
So without further delay, let’s see who are some of the volunteers that are vital to helping Maya and what they do:
Heather Sullivan | KF17 | Indonesia
Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine
When not sampling local delicacies or fording swollen rivers to visit borrowers, Kiva Fellows occasionally find themselves stuck in the office, chatting on Skype and sharing experiences (both raucous and ruminative) from the field. In one recent conversation, the two of us, Heather and Chris, discovered that we were facing nearly opposite sets of problems surrounding the issue of borrower privacy. While Chris’s field partner in Ukraine was finding it hard to convince suspicious borrowers that sharing their photos and stories on Kiva would cause them no harm, Heather was struggling to convey to her Indonesian MFI’s clients that perhaps they shouldn’t be so nonchalant about how their information might be shared. What follows is a joint blog exploring some of the roots of those cultural differences—and their consequences for Kiva and its partner MFIs.
Ever wonder what a day “in the field” actually looks like for a Kiva Fellow? I know I had so many questions before I touched down in Kenya, as did my friends and family back home. To answer these questions about where I’m working and what I’m doing all the way in Mombasa, I made a short video about a typical day in the life of a Kiva Fellow.
While my day-to-day activities vary by week, most of my time recently has been filled with a combination of borrower visits, website design, loan officer training, and filming what I see. Then of course, there’s all the patient waiting around when the office’s electricity takes it daily hiatus.
Check out the video to get a peek at a day’s work at Kiva Field Partner Milango Financial Services in Mombasa, Kenya.
Many thanks to Kiva’s video editor Jenny McAllister for all her help!
Devon Fisher is a Kiva Fellow working with Milango Financial Services in Mombasa, Kenya. You can find and fund Milango borrowers here.
Compiled by Kiyomi Beach | KF17 | Mexico
Whether shaking off the chill of winter, welcoming the rainy season, or experiencing any other climate change, the spring can definitely be a time to celebrate. Some countries celebrate big which can mean local business owners have a surge in income from selling items related to the festivities. Sales for new clothes, fabrics for costumes, candies, and specialty foods increase, which give some Kiva borrowers an extra reason to celebrate.
While we may all be familiar with some holidays or festivals, each culture celebrates what may seam like a familiar holiday differently. Some countries have celebrations that are uniquely their own, with the common threads being are family and fun. Lets see how a few of the fellows celebrated.
Ryan Cummings | KF 17 | Liberia
It’s no secret that microfinance institutions provide a variety of beneficial services to communities beyond just loans. In addition to micro-credit services, BRAC Liberia also runs a community health program and an agricultural program to improve the quality of life for its borrowers and the community as a whole.
The agriculture program provides entrepreneurial farmers with both technical assistance and funding for seeds and other inputs. Having a background in agricultural business, I am always fascinated by international agriculture and its relationship to development. One of my first observations in Liberia was the notable lack of small farms. In my past experience and travels in the developing world, small farms have always been a mainstay of family income and subsistence. (more…)
Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine
As regular readers of Kiva Stories from the Field will know, it’s not always easy to extend microfinance services to the people who need them most. Aside from the usual barriers - poor infrastructure that makes it difficult to connect borrowers with an MFI, the difficulty of disseminating information about available services, and the danger of over-indebtedness among those in greatest need - there are sometimes even more intractable political and regulatory challenges that make it very difficult for microfinance to be viable. This week, our fellows have investigated a few of these problems. Read on to learn about the unique challenges that come with owning a farm in the West Bank and the barriers that Turkish microfinance institutions face in trying to expand their services; then, get another window into the Kiva borrower verification process and learn how Kiva Fellows forge connections with the entrepreneurs they visit. (more…)
By Kimberly Strathearn, KF 16/17, Turkey
Maya has been a Kiva Field partner for 8 months. Maya is a small program that was established under the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work in 2002. Maya’s target clients are low-income women with a primary school education that have limited chances of finding a job in the formal economy. Turkey has a large informal economy, so most of Maya’s clients want to set up a small-scale business or enhance their existing small-scale business. Many of their clients work from home but some have small shops, or work in market stalls. Most of these businesses are in the trade sector but some are in the manufacturing and service sectors. Since most of the businesses are unregistered, the women are unable to access regular financial services.
Have you been wondering why Maya has only posted 35 entrepreneur profiles on the Kiva website? And that they all have been individuals? You may know from my first post about Maya or Maya Field Partner Page, that Maya offers group loans—so why isn’t Maya posting any?
Update from the Field: Non-Financial Services, Employment Discrimination + The Dark Side of Sustainable Tourism
Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine
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…)
Michael Slattery | KF17 | Togo
For the past number of weeks I’ve been training with my microfinance institution’s football club, WAGES FC. Early on in my stay, I found out that most of the male loan officers I was spending my days with were members of the team. This didn’t surprise me after a certain point: the MFI was interested in placing me with their best agents. Well-rounded people are generally active in various areas of their lives, and this includes sports. When I expressed some interest in the team, I was invited out to train with them, for fun, as they said, at 6:30 am, every Saturday.
Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Azerbaijan
The 17th class of Kiva Fellows was turned loose into the field on January 27th, nearly two months ago – and how long ago it seems! By this point, our intrepid fellows are really starting to get the hang of their placements, forming routines, powering through their workplans, and learning the ins and outs of the national cuisine. But a few members of KF17 have been living in their host countries for even longer, collecting wisdom and digging deeply into local life, and this week we’ve heard from several of them. Read on to gain insight into microfinance, poverty, and everyday life from our fellows in Colombia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. Once you’re back, come sail around Samoa to discover the difficulties of life in the South Pacific, then jump on the back of a Togolese motorbike to learn about the complexities and challenges that loan officers deal with every day. (more…)
By Kimberly Strathearn | KF 16/17 | Turkey
In previous blog posts, I have introduced the Maya Istanbul office, the Sakarya branch office, and the Izmit branch office. This blog will highlight the Eskişehir branch office, introduce Nermin Akar and Serpil Altıntaş and provide an update on three entrepreneurs.
Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Azerbaijan
We Kiva Fellows are a lucky bunch. Not only do we do truly consequential work in the field to turn Kiva’s social mission into reality – we also get to travel to places we never could have imagined, experience brilliant flashes of cross-cultural connection, and come back with stories our friends in the developed world can’t match. But here in Baku, Azerbaijan, I’m having an experience few other Kiva Fellows have: I am working to alleviate poverty while surrounded by wealth as far as the eye can see.