Bodas and Borrowers

1 September 2010 at 01:00 17 comments

By Sarah Curl, KF12 Uganda

Prior to finding myself in the middle of Uganda,  I had the opportunity to be an intern at Kiva Headquarters in San Francisco working in the Customer Service Department for the past seven months.  I talked and emailed with lenders daily about everything from their excitement and sometimes disappointment with microfinance to needing their password changed on their Kiva account.  If you emailed between the months of November through May, most likely I communicated with you.  Talking to thousands of lenders during my time at Kiva made me wonder and be intrigued about the other side of the Kiva model, the borrowers.  I wanted to see and talk with the entrepreneurs, to hear their stories, struggles, hopes and dreams.  The idea of being able to visit borrowers was a big draw for me when applying to be a Kiva Fellow.  Like every Kiva Lender, you have the opportunity to read about the entrepreneur’s story and see their pictures, but I wanted to experience a little more.

My first experience visiting borrowers came about when I had to complete my first task on my workplan.   All Kiva Fellows have a workplan with various deliverables that must be completed. My first task was to complete a Borrower Verification (BV).  This entailed finding ten randomly selected borrowers in seven branches, located all over the country.  This adventure would take me throughout Western Uganda and areas North and West of Kampala.  When I started my BV I had only been in the country for fourteen days.  I battled dust, dirt, unpaved roads and many boda-boda rides to reach those important borrowers.  A boda-boda is a form of transportation used very often in Uganda.  It is a motorcycle that you can jump on to get you through the congested traffic in Kampala or take to go down very long, unpaved, dusty roads.

View from the Boda-Boda in Ibanda, Uganda

One of the branches that I visited was very concerned with my safety when I was to ride a boda-boda.  The branch insisted that I take a few safety precautions.  It was 90 plus degrees and I had a fleece jacked for padding, a motorcycle helmet and if that was not enough the reflective strips on my jacket where an added precaution.  If you add in neon blue pants, I think I basically became indestructible.

Me with all my protective boda gear

Traveling throughout Uganda on my own, allowed me to meet and depend upon many different Ugandan people along the way.  I discovered that every time I found myself lost or very confused, someone was there helping me get into a taxi, a bus or waving down a car that might have extra room.  Through all of this, I have found that people in Uganda are nothing but generous, kind and helpful.  If it was meeting a borrower or a taxi driver, I have learned to have a deep appreciation and affection for the people of Uganda.

Entrepreneur Lydia Tushemereirwe and I in her hair salon

Sarah Curl is a Kiva Fellow serving in Kampala, Uganda.  She is working at Pearl Microfinance, enjoying eating traditional Ugandan food everyday and using boda-bodas as her main form of transportation around the capital.

Join Pearl Microfinance’s Lending Team here!

Find Kiva loans from Pearl Microfinance here!

Entry filed under: KF12 (Kiva Fellows 12th Class), PEARL Microfinance, Uganda. Tags: , , , , , .

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  • […] adventure and a few days of work in Kampala, Sarah and I took off for the Rwanda-Uganda border by boda.We soon found ourselves in a futuristic world marked by aliens in green helmets, stoplights, and […]

  • […] been on the go since the end of KFP Training Week and have traveled via: boda boda, bus, matatu, car, dala dala, ferry, tuk tuk, airplane, dhow, sailboat, and my legs. While all […]

  • […] by boda to the shore and board a local hotel’s ferry to Funzi […]

  • 4. pamela  |  28 September 2010 at 00:38

    hey that is great glad You can go that far to perform ur duties…. u look great!!!!! Sarah

  • 5. Mary  |  17 September 2010 at 07:00

    Sarah you are the best…all I can say is I hope Kiva appreciates you and all the other dedicated fellows who volunteer daily to go above and beyond the call of duty in unfamiliar territory..keep up the good work.

  • 6. Ashley H.  |  15 September 2010 at 22:25

    Customer Service….Unite!

    We’re proud of you back here. You look happy and sound confident. Thanks for sharing this!!

  • […] roads into the rural agricultural land of the Kinango coastal province. This was my first true pikipiki (motorbike) experience, second week into the fellowship, and third meeting with a Kiva borrower. […]

  • 8. Annabel  |  8 September 2010 at 10:40

    you go girlllll….I think you should bring back the boda boda protective gear:)

  • 9. Christine  |  7 September 2010 at 02:49

    I would have never thought you would be doing this but I am so so so proud of you. You have such a kind heart Crackie! I cant wait to see you. Be safe and come home soon!

  • 10. annhingst  |  6 September 2010 at 02:55

    Sarah, you manage to make your protective suit look fashionable. Totally hot! 🙂

  • 11. Sherry B.  |  5 September 2010 at 22:43


  • 12. Georgi Hagerty  |  4 September 2010 at 12:08

    Sarah, you are so brave and independant ! …What an amazing journey you are on. I hope you are keeping a daily journal…love the updates and the pics!

  • 13. Samantha  |  1 September 2010 at 11:37

    Love the post… especially the Photos!

  • 14. Spain S.  |  1 September 2010 at 10:35

    Youre the best !

  • 15. Caty O.  |  1 September 2010 at 10:17

    Love the blog, keep it up! I just showed my dad and he said “tell Sarah I’m worried about her hypoglycemia.”

  • 16. Lindsay  |  1 September 2010 at 09:09

    Baby, I’m amazed!

  • 17. Katie M.  |  1 September 2010 at 05:17

    Sarah– I’m so glad you figured out how to upload photos to the blog. Incredible outfit.

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