Author Archive

West Timor Research Insights from a Boren Fellow

Yvonne Chen, a Boren Fellow in Indonesia (2010-2011) and a graduate student at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, contacted me after reading about my experience here at TLM on the Kiva Fellows blog. She was interested in conducting her research study in West Timor with TLM to collect data for her thesis on youth financial inclusion in East Indonesia. Despite her busy schedule, Yvonne was able to share some findings from her West Timor research as well as thoughts on Indonesian microfinance and Kiva’s work. Enjoy reading the interview below!

Continue Reading 1 May 2011 at 07:00 3 comments

A Different Spin on “Mobile Savings”

When I first arrived at TLM in January I read their 2011 business plan and was thrilled to see that the MFI was planning to launch mobile savings by mid-year! I proceeded to read the text under the “mobile savings” heading and quickly realized that (1) I have an active imagination and (2) TLM’s mobile savings was a different spin on words than what my mind had quickly conjured up.
TLM Mobile Van Sketch

Continue Reading 15 April 2011 at 07:00 4 comments

Hear that?? It’s Kupang Bemo Rap!!

By Lisa Skowron, KF14, Indonesia

My experience with public transport in Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia! Also, please vote for your favorite Kupang Bemo at the end of the post! 🙂

Continue Reading 24 March 2011 at 07:00 10 comments

Huh, There’s a West Timor?

When I first told friends and family that I was headed to West Timor for several months for my Kiva Fellowship, I often heard the response, “Huh, there’s a West Timor?”

Most people are more familiar with Indonesia’s neighbor, East Timor, due to its 25-year struggle for independence, which often splashed in the headlines of Western papers.  This long and violent battle for independence has resulted a strong UN presence and continuous aid relief efforts in East Timor.  In strict contrast, West Timor of Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) province was left out of the limelight.

Today NTT province still has the least favorable social and economic statistics of all 33 Indonesian provinces.  Many of the statistics in the table below are shocking, especially the fact that 65% of the 4.6 million population is living below the poverty line and earning less than 1.00 USD per day.

Tanaoba Lais Manekat (TLM), the MFI, which Kiva is partnered with in NTT province, has a dedicated mission to alleviate poverty in West Timor and its surrounding islands.   Currently TLM has 19 branch offices throughout NTT and has reached 26,985 clients through its loan and savings programs.

I’m thrilled that my Kiva Fellowship has granted me the opportunity to work with such a committed institution.  With my Kiva experience out in Indonesia, I am also able to report back home to everyone that YES, there indeed is a West Timor, and it is filled with genuine, hard-working, and optimistic people.  Since pictures of the remote island are far and few between, please enjoy the photostream of some of my favorites!

Lisa Skowron is a Kiva Fellow serving in Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia as part of the Kiva Fellows’ 14th class.

3 March 2011 at 07:00 5 comments

Video Blog: Trek to Kanaan Village

Are microfinance institutions (MFIs) exploiting poor borrowers by charging the excessive interest rates?  Some people think so, especially after the publicity around Andhra Pradesh in India.  Despite recent events, there has always been a widespread agreement that most MFIs should operate sustainably, keeping costs as low as possible, and charging interest rates high enough to cover these costs.  However, even in these instances, rates hover much higher than your typical commercial bank.

One of the leading factors attributing to high MFI interest rates is administration expense.  The cost to process numerous tiny loans requires a lot more legwork that cannot sustainably offset by economies of scale.  Also, MFIs often operate in remote or low population density areas, were simple contact with the borrower can turn into long journey.   The video below depicts this through my trek out to Kanaan Village in West Timor, Indonesia.  Enjoy!

Lisa Skowron is part of the Kiva Fellow’s 14th Class and is currently working with TLM in Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia.

16 February 2011 at 07:00 11 comments


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