Author Archive

Different Worlds: Two Perspectives on Borrower Privacy from Indonesia and Ukraine

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.

Ibu Masripah from Indonesia

Ibu Masripah, a VisionFund Indonesia client, was delighted to report on the success of her kiosk and participate in an impromptu photo shoot.


25 May 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Update from the Field: Poetry, Poverty + Truly Epic Amounts of Food

Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine

Michael Slattery memorializes one of the smaller Togolese meals he's eaten; perhaps he was not hungry that day.

Michael Slattery memorializes one of the smaller Togolese meals he's eaten; perhaps he was not hungry that day.

May has sprung, and the Kiva Fellows of KF17 will soon be returning home – hard as that is to believe at times. In our own ways, we are all trying to knit our experiences together and figure out the themes that underlie all we’ve done. This week, we have for you three very different approaches to that task. Read on for a representative photographic catalog of most of the food in Togo; a heartbreaking look at how poverty affects the lives of ordinary Cambodians; and a creative take on the ordinary Kiva blog post, as one of our Mexico fellows steps aside to let his MFI staff members talk with us directly.


30 April 2012 at 15:10 5 comments

Update from the Field: Group Loans, Barriers to Microfinance + How to Visit a Borrower

Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine

A Kiva borrower in Barranquilla - Alex Connelly, Colombia

A Kiva borrower in Barranquilla with his family - Alex Connelly, Colombia

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…)

9 April 2012 at 09:00 1 comment

Update from the Field: Non-Financial Services, Employment Discrimination + The Dark Side of Sustainable Tourism

Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Ukraine

The Quirimbas Archipelago from above - Micaela Browning, Mozambique

The Quirimbas Archipelago from above - Micaela Browning, Mozambique

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…)

2 April 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Update From The Field: Finding Epiphanies, Sharing Wisdom + Standing Up to Sassy Nigerian Mamas

Compiled by Chris Paci | KF16 & KF17 | Azerbaijan

Alex Connelly offers us a typically "light" Colombian "snack."

Alex Connelly offers us a typically "light" Colombian "snack."

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…)

19 March 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Glitz and Glamour, Oil Wealth, and the Left-Behind of Baku

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.

Continue Reading 13 March 2012 at 09:00 18 comments

Update From The Field: Inspiring Field Partners, Cultural Adjustments + Girl Scout Cookies (No Wait, That’s Not Right)

Compiled by Chris Paci, KF16 & KF17, Azerbaijan

A Béninois borrower - Allison Moomey, Benin

It’s the beginning of March, and by now, most of KF17 has been out in the field for several weeks. We’ve settled in at our field partners, gotten to know some of our new coworkers, and started to dig a little deeper into the societies of the countries we now call home. Many of us have already traveled out into the field to visit the borrowers at the heart of the Kiva model. Check out this week’s posts and join the fellows of KF17 as they discover the quirks of Samoa, reflect on Benin’s distinctive culture, and observe extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. Then keep on reading to learn about a devoted loan officer in Ecuador, the money management techniques of microfinance clients in Togo, and the surprising opportunities that Liberian microfinance institutions can create.

Continue Reading 5 March 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

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