Finance in Freetown

12 August 2010 at 07:33 7 comments

By Becky Myers, KF12, Sierra Leone

Shuttling around Freetown, Sierra Leone, provides an immediate sense of the city’s vibe.  The west side of town houses a cluster of NGO’s, government aid organizations and UN offices.  The east side of town is home to row after row of tightly packed residential buildings and is by far the most populated area of the city.  The downtown area consists of The Bank of Sierra Leone, The Houses of Parliament and various other government offices.  This busy central district is also where most Sierra Leonean businesses operate, including ARD, a microfinance institution that is one of Kiva’s many lending partners.

Overlooking the bay in Freetown

As a Kiva Fellow, I find myself in the midst of the hustle and bustle of city streets.  Women sell fruit and fabric from large baskets on their heads, children play soccer on the sidewalk, and men in suits go in and out of government offices.  For lunch, I pop into a hut and sit down among other locals to enjoy a plate of rice and groundnut soup and chat with those at my table.

Working with borrowers at ARD

While this is a highlight of being a Kiva Fellow, the opportunity to witness Kiva’s partnership with ARD and expand ARD’s reach is the real treat.  Most people who are familiar with Kiva know that its biggest asset is the ability to connect lenders and borrowers.  But ARD, which was established over 20 years ago in Sierra Leone, demonstrates just how close Kiva’s connection really is.  With 4 additional branches, ARD’s antennas largely span the country.  Employees not only have many years of experience working at ARD but also grew up in the area and know many of the borrowers well.  The Executive Director, who was born in Sierra Leone as 1 of 18 children, is clearly very dedicated to his thousands of clients.  In addition to microfinance services, ARD provides HIV information sessions to borrowers and encourages clients to sell condoms side-by-side their regular goods.  The institution’s goal of establishing a profitable and professional microfinance institution is clearly well on its way.

Time and time again, many organizations have proven that some of the most successful ways to alleviate poverty come from on the ground experience and a thorough understanding of local culture and customs.  Witnessing the depth of this relationship and the breadth of ARD has definitely encouraged me to lend more.  If you are also encouraged to lend click here:ARD’s Fundraising Page

Becky Myers is currently a fellow serving in Sierra Leone.

Entry filed under: ARD Sierra Leone, KF12 (Kiva Fellows 12th Class), Sierra Leone. Tags: , , , , , .

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  • 1. Nader  |  3 September 2010 at 08:16

    Thumbs up!!! good stuff!!

  • 2. Aaron  |  13 August 2010 at 13:23

    Great to hear about some “behind the scenes” details regarding ARD and to see the staff in action!

  • 3. Lorena  |  13 August 2010 at 05:12

    Enjoyed getting a sense of Sierra Leone and knowing that ARD maintains a connection with its borrowers. And as others have said Great Pics!!!

  • 4. david oglaza  |  13 August 2010 at 01:10

    I have made a number of loans of SL and these have already been paid back on time. I follow the fortunes of President Koroma and the country as I have a friend working out there. He seems to be making good progress in alleviating the poverty although it will take a long long time due to the civil war. I just hope they bang up Charles Taylor or move him from Africa to stop him causing trouble!

  • 5. Vanick  |  12 August 2010 at 23:04

    Becky-you’ve made me hungry for some groundnut stew!

  • 6. donaldhart  |  12 August 2010 at 08:17

    Great photos Becky — it’s cool to hear that ARD has been around for 20 years serving clients.

  • 7. johnfmurphy  |  12 August 2010 at 07:41

    What a view! Great pics, and how interesting about the HIV prevention measures. Keep up the good work.

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