Posts filed under ‘Rwanda’

Same Continent, Different Worlds: Part 2

By Kiva Fellows in Africa, KF16
Compiled by Tejal Desai

Ow de body! Are Sierra Leone and Rwanda still danger zones? What challenges do Ugandans most commonly face? Kiva Fellows from KF16 bring you another unique perspective from the diverse and vast continent of Africa! We patched together an overview of each of our placement countries that includes: basic socioeconomic stats, common stereotypes (and to what extent they are true or false), greatest challenges, most common loan products at our respective field partners, and the borrowers’ most common use of their profits. Our part 2 series follows the Kiva Fellows through Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda. We hope our summaries give you a new perspective on the continent and its distinct countries that we’ve been fortunate to explore, thanks to the Kiva fellowship!

Continue Reading 2 January 2012 at 13:00

Update from the Field: Expanding the Reach of Microfinance, Downsizing Development + Why We Kiva

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

This week, you have no fewer than 14 new articles to choose from on the Kiva fellows blog: Let the fellows take you along on borrower visits across the world. Learn how Kiva field partners expand the reach of microfinance in Rwanda, fill the microfinance donut hole in Sierra Leone and improve social performance in Uganda. Find out what poverty is like in urban Tajikistan and rural Burkina Faso. Get inspired by one of the creative ways to bring renewable energy to the developing world in the form of a soccer ball. And finally, watch a video of “Why We Kiva” to get a glimpse of why Kiva fellows jump at the opportunity to be thrown half way around the world to work with Kiva’s many local field partners.

Continue Reading 31 October 2011 at 02:49 5 comments

Going the Distance: Expanding the Reach of Microfinance in Rwanda

By Whitney Webb, KF16, Rwanda

One of the biggest challenges of providing access to financial services to those living in poverty is the actual logistics of expanding the services into some of the most remote areas of the world. 92% of Rwandans live in rural areas. During my first field visit, I visited a small village near the border of Tanzania. After meeting several first time borrowers and hearing about their challenges and strong hopes for the future, we drove out onto the unpredictable mud roads.

Continue Reading 24 October 2011 at 08:49 6 comments

Update from the Field: Going Pilot to Active, Meeting Borrowers + Technology and Social Performance

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

It has been a busy week for bloggers. The 16th class of Kiva fellows (KF16) hits the ground running and invites you to share their first experiences in their host countries across the globe. Arrive in Georgia just in time for harvest season. Continue to Sierra Leone to watch a new Kiva field partner go from pilot to active. Jump out of a plane in Rwanda – but not without a few parachutes – and learn more about agricultural loans. Bump into a Kiva borrower in Ecuador. Travel to Burkina Faso – a poor country rich in culture. Study the effects of technology on social performance of microfinance institutions in Cambodia. And to top it all off, immerse yourself in the generosity and kindness of the people of Paraguay.

Continue Reading 19 September 2011 at 01:34 7 comments

Agriculture Loans: What Makes Them So Different?

Agriculture loans are considerably different products than most micro loans. Agriculture loans include unique risks and potentially higher costs of servicing. In this article, Adam Cohn explains those differences, and how Kiva and Kiva lenders like you can help out poor farmers in Rwanda.

Continue Reading 16 September 2011 at 12:00 2 comments

The Kiva Parachute: Landing in Rwanda

By Whitney Webb, KF16, Rwanda

Things became real when I stepped out of my NYC apartment for the last time and hailed a cab to the airport. It was one thing to say (repeatedly) “I’m moving to Rwanda to do a fellowship in microfinance. I’m so excited. And a little nervous.” It’s quite another to pack up your bags and actually board a plane to Rwanda, or Indonesia, or Paraguay, etc… I’m guessing more than one of us Kiva fellows had the inevitable panic attack prior to and during departure.

Continue Reading 14 September 2011 at 02:53 8 comments

Updates from the Field: Costs of Kiva, Donkey Shares + the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns

Over the course of their fellowship, each Kiva Fellows class gleans a better understanding of innerworkings of microfinance and how a microfinance institution (MFI) can tip the scales of success. We begin to glimpse behind the scenes costs of Kiva to our Field Partners and to comprehend the reasoning behind “high” interest rates across the entire field of microfinance. We’re let in on the secrets to success which keep an organization running and financially viable for five years, and we learn about innovative development of programs- be they microfinance or donkey-shares- in a niche market. Over the course of our fellowships, we obtain these invaluable and instructive lessons piecemeal, and together can contribute to the conversation on a whole. Thus, as one class of fellows departs and another begins, this week our fellows share our insights with you!

Continue Reading 5 September 2011 at 08:00 7 comments

Isabukuru Nziza, ACB! A Kiva Field Partner in Rwanda Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary

By Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

Birthdays are celebrated around the world, and Rwanda – the tiny East African country of 1000 hills wedged between the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi – is no exception.

For its 5-year anniversary, the staff of Kiva’s field partner Amasezerano Community Bank (ACB) left its offices in Kigali for the shores of beautiful lake Kivu (unfortunately not named after Kiva) at the Congolese boarder. The trip was an occasion to remember key events in ACB’s history – mostly joyous, sometimes somber – but above all to celebrate.

Continue Reading 31 August 2011 at 08:19 11 comments

Kigali Life

Hi Everyone! Decided to make a Video blog post to show you a little bit what life is like as a Kiva Fellow in Kigali!

5 August 2011 at 06:00 1 comment

Update from the Field: Zulu Weddings, More Country-Specific Microfinance + Fighting Crime

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF15, Togo

Learn about the tradition of Zulu weddings in South Africa. Find out how Kiva’s partners adapt the concept of microfinance to fit their country’s specific needs: from loans targeting borrowers affected by emigration in Ecuador, over a preference for group loans in El Salvador, to lending coupled with various training programs in Rwanda. Finish off your weekly reading by learning about crime-fighting Kivans in Nicaragua.

Continue Reading 4 July 2011 at 02:30 8 comments

More Than Just Money

One of the MFIs I am working with in Kigali is Urwego Opportunity Bank. In Kinyarwanda, Urwego literally means “to provide someone a ladder up”.  Urwego does this not only by providing special loan products for those without access to traditional credit, but also by offering special training to its clients.

When asked to comment on these trainings, the Director of Transformational Impact at UOB said, “people often think that poverty is just financial deficit. However, it also means disempowerment.  Training in household financial, business, and health management empowers people.  Additionally, training clients helps them understand what will happen to their business if they get sick or mismanage their money.” The Director also noted that training client in these areas reduces risk for UOB, because the better the run the businesses are, the more steady the repayments of the loans.


1 July 2011 at 02:00 1 comment

Update from the Field: Instability, Trust + A New Home

Compiled by Kathrin Gerner, KF15, Togo

This week, the fellows continue to get their bearings in the field. Learn about the importance of trust in Cameroon, find out how political instability affects businesses and microfinance in Uganda, and take a trip to a fellow’s country mountain home in Cameroon.

Continue Reading 6 June 2011 at 02:00 3 comments

A Little Trust Goes a Long Way

It’s my first two weeks in Kigali, Rwanda and in addition to the amazing Rwandan buffets, I have found myself tasting the many recipes in life that use trust as the secret ingredient.

When I discovered that I would be traveling to Rwanda, I knew life was about to get awesome.  However, admittedly upon preparation for my departure to Rwanda, I couldn’t help but have the occasional “gulp” as I thought about moving to a new country and starting a new role at institutions I feel privileged to be exposed to. I therefore adopted the commonly known phrase “Luck favors the traveler” as my mantra and complacently resigned myself to the assumption that I would have to place trust not only in my own abilities, but more importantly in the people that I had yet to meet.

My initial impressions of Rwandan society have reaffirmed the trust I established at the onset of my journey.  Not one person has refused to assist me, whether it is asking for directions or handing me my shopping bag that I left on the back of my chair. Unlike other places I have traveled, one will find in Rwanda that people are unequivocally proud of their country.  Therefore, they treat visitors to their country with the same hospitality that I would imagine most provide to a guest in their home.

Perhaps there is no higher level of trust than that I instill in the moto-taxi driver every morning and evening as I commute to and from my MFIs. I had never been on a motorcycle prior to coming to Rwanda, and I empathize with the driver of my first ride.  As he dodged through traffic, I shamelessly held onto him for balance (and my life I suppose).  It was only after I peaked from under my over-sized helmet that I realized that no one else holds onto the driver.  My awkwardness with the moto-taxis is gradually fading as I place trust in these drivers to deliver me in tact. In fact, I already anticipate missing my morning commute once I have returned back to the states.

Another kind of livelihood that relies on trust is that of the members of the lending groups of microfinance institutions.  During the first week at one of my MFIs, I was invited to witness a loan disbursement for a lending trust group.  The group consisted of 45 members, and the meeting began with the discussion of whether or not a person should be allowed to join the group.  In order to be permitted, a person must be vouched for by another member and trusted by all members through a vote.  The person had been accused of stealing a bicycle and therefore it was decided that he must wait to prove his trustworthiness before joining.

On my visit to the lending group there was also a batch of American exchange students observing the disbursement process. In their honor, a few of the borrowers within the group were asked to stand up and describe their businesses and how the loans via their “little trust” have helped them expand their enterprises.  One woman described how within only 4 loan cycles, she has been able to increase her loans from 100,000 Rwandan Francs to 1 million.  She described how her tailoring business is expanding so that now she will offer training services to those who wish to acquire sewing skills.  As I listened to the members of the lending group describe their successes, I realized how vital these loans, and the trust needed to facilitate them, are to their businesses.

After the students had the opportunity to ask questions,  members of the lending group were given a chance to ask questions of us as well.  The most obvious yet profound question was, “Why are you all here?”.  These individuals could not imagine why over 20 mzungus(foreigners) would be interested in their businesses.  The Kiva coordinator answered that in addition to the innovation and aptitude they have displayed as entrepreneurs, it is quite extraordinary to those not regularly exposed to microfinance that trust and community relationships are just as (if not more) effective than the traditional physical sources of collateral.

Members of trust group wait for their loan together

Therefore in my inaugural weeks I have witnessed the feats that can be achieved with trust.  Trust ultimately inspired my decision to journey to this place and have an amazing introduction to Rwandan society. Trust is what allows borrowers with no other means of collateral to acquire loans that will enable them to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families.  Having a little trust can take you a long way.

31 May 2011 at 00:01 5 comments

Update from the Field: Farewells, Mistaken Identities + Micro-Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

We’ve officially hit the point in the Kiva Fellows cycle where the current batch says goodbye just as the latest group is getting their bearings at Kiva HQ. Fortunately, there are a number of posts this week to help us through the transition and cheer us up. If you’re interested in a comprehensive image gallery of the hot designs for share taxis in Rwanda, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also got stories about micro-micro-businesses in Sierra Leone, visiting research fellows in West Timor, and the intersection of medicine and microfinance in Bolivia. Plus, take long trips to the field in Armenia and Peru, and catch up on the impact of microloans in South Africa.

Sierra Leone Poda-Poda

Continue Reading 2 May 2011 at 00:38 4 comments

Share Taxis Around The World: The How, Why & Design

By Adam Cohn, Kiva Fellow KF14, Kigali, Rwanda

Share taxis around the world exhibit a variety of names, including Poda-Poda, Tro-Tro, Marshrutka, Jitney, Bemo, and Bush Taxi. Similarly, the colors and designs of the share taxis vary wildly, right down to this Justin Bieber minibus in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kiva Fellow Adam Cohn takes a look at how share taxis work, and shows photos of these colorful carpools from around the world.

Rwanda: That Bieber Fever

Continue Reading 26 April 2011 at 11:00 7 comments

Update from the Field: Earth Day, Celebrations + Exceeding Expectations

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky

Kiva Fellows observed Earth Day by sharing projects initiated by their partner microfinance institutions and host countries and by celebrating’s first batch of “Green Loans”. The upbeat mood also extended to anniversary parties at MFIs in Jordan and Armenia, enthusiastic endorsements to travel to Colombia, and reporting on a great opportunity for Kiva clients in Mongolia. Fellows also visited with borrowers in the Philippines, South Africa, and Armenia, and took us on a typical commute in Mexico City. All in all, a very busy week as members of KF14 wind down their time in the field.

Continue Reading 25 April 2011 at 02:45 4 comments

Happy Earth Day from Kiva Fellows around the Globe!

Compiled by Caree Edson, KF 14, Armenia

One of the unfortunate sight-seeing adventures that you never sign up for when you travel (especially in developing countries) is the unseemly amount of trash cluttering the otherwise beautiful landscapes. In Armenia, it isn’t possible to see the horizon through the smog most days and the streets are covered in cigarette butts and litter. I found no exceptions to this as I inquired from other Kiva Fellows about the dire situation in their countries. Environmental education and reform are simply not a top priority in many countries. But the future of climate change initiatives are not entirely hopeless…

Continue Reading 22 April 2011 at 11:06 3 comments

Update from the Field: April Fools, Terrible Coffee + Getting Attached

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

We hope you enjoyed our April Fools post on Friday! While we were entertaining ourselves pulling it all together, we also found the time to attend to some serious matters: coffee in Colombia is no joke (in a bad way), some borrowers are easier to locate than others, and oftentimes Fellows must say goodbye to people and places before they’re ready to. We also learned about the “No Pago” movement in Nicaragua, the elections in Peru, what daily life is like for a Fellow in Bolivia, and how to sensibly and respectfully collect past-due payments in Ghana. Somehow there was even time to host a previous Fellow and a documentary film student in Colombia and to visit borrowers, eat chocolate, and stop for the view in Armenia.

Continue Reading 4 April 2011 at 00:46 8 comments

Special Update from the Field: Beaches, Safaris + Cambodian Glamour Shots

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Kiva Fellows are nothing if not creative. We’ve gone to elaborate lengths to convince you that it can be hard to visit borrowers and that when we’re not trekking for miles, we’re doing elaborate calculations or dealing with databases and reporting. In truth, it’s all a front for an extended holiday from our regular lives. You thought our recent Carnival coverage represented a change of pace? Think again!

Continue Reading 1 April 2011 at 00:13 7 comments

Update from the Field: Social Quirks, Justin Bieber + Lots of Carbs

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

While it may have been a slower “official” news week than usual, I can assure you that the Fellows are keeping busy. One Fellow spent hours searching fruitlessly for borrowers in the jungle, another has been suffering from serious gastrointestinal issues (aren’t you glad he didn’t post about that?), and the rest of us have been plotting something very special for the end of the week. In the meantime, you can catch up on social quirks in Rwanda, transportation in West Timor, the importance of corn in Guatemala, and the latest from Mongolia all while taking a look at photos from South Africa. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 28 March 2011 at 03:58 6 comments

Hissing, High Fives & Apologies; Some Habits I Have Acquired In Rwanda

Caitlin Ross, KF14 Rwanda – During my 5+ months here in Rwanda, I’ve made myself at home in Kigali, and adapted to the Rwandese lifestyle. I have also picked up some…interesting habits, many of which will not translate when I return home to the US in June. Below are a handful of quirks that I have acquired during my crash-course in Rwandese culture…

Continue Reading 22 March 2011 at 03:21 5 comments

Update from the Field: Carnival, Collaboration + Cheese-Making

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

This past week was all about collaboration: Fellows coordinating across continents to profile entrepreneurs and organizations who believe International Women’s Day should be every day and community members coming together to celebrate Carnival in all of its elaborate glory. We learned about public health in Peru, making cheese and cigars in Nicaragua, the impact of climate change in Bolivia, and the challenges faced by a microcredit saleswoman in Guatemala. Life as a Kiva Fellow is busy as always!

Continue Reading 14 March 2011 at 00:45 8 comments

Celebrating Women around the World!

Contributions from Kiva Fellows around the globe, compiled by Mei-ing Cheok.

Solidarity - A group of Ghanaian women after their weekly meeting with their loan officer

The beauty of microfinance is that it gives people at the wrong end of the income spectrum opportunities to step out of the poverty trap. It also provides women the confidence and security that comes from earning their own income, leading to greater gender equality.

Financially and economically empowering women, studies have shown, has a greater ‘trickle-down’ effect, as they tend to spend more of their earnings on the household expenses such as school fees and healthcare. Thus, it benefits not only themselves, but also their families and even their communities.

This International Women’s Day, Kiva Fellows celebrate individuals and organisations around the world who have contributed to the advancement of women in their communities. We salute you.

Cambodia: From Housewife to Entrepreneur

By Stephanie Sibal

Norn, entrepreneur from Cambodia

Norn, a petite 28-year-old former housewife with two young children, used to rely solely on her husband’s US$5 per day income as a blacksmith. With her loan, Norn braved her first ever trip outside her tiny neighborhood to buy groceries and opened up a store in front of her home. She can now make up to US$15 in gross income per day. While the ins and outs of running her own business are an ongoing learning process, Norn is thankful. She now has regular customers who have also become her friends. 

Ghana:  Freedom from Hunger

By Mei-ing Cheok

The Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN) provides thousands of micro loans to women in rural and semi-urban areas through its Freedom from Hunger programme. George Tokpo, Director of Operations, says, “When we empower women, they are able to provide their families. We acknowledge that women are more responsible when it comes to the upbringing of their children.” Mr Tokpo added that women make better clients, “Women are able to find jobs much more easily than men. They’re a lot more adaptable. If one business fails, they will pick something else up very quickly. This lowers the likelihood of defaults.” (read more about how microfinance is empowering women in Ghana here)

CRAN team: Gifty (in charge of borrower profiles), George (Director of Operations) and Cecilia (journal updates)

Rwanda: Francoise’s Fabulous Story

By Adam Cohn

In the video blog, meet Francoise, who started selling bananas with her first loan and today, owns a provision shop, land and is on her way to starting a farm. This goal-driven woman is providing for her family of eight and doing a great job of it.

Armenia: A tale of two women

By Caree Edson

Hripsik in her hair salon

Women’s Day is also celebrated in Armenia and because the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, the government has declared Monday a holiday as well ensuring a nice long weekend for everyone.  While inquiring about women borrowers who stand out in SEF’s history of lending, I was immediately directed to Hripsik Movsisyan and Raya Martirosyan. These women lead vastly different lives -one owns a salon in the city, while the other works on her family’s farm in the countryside- but both represent the warmth and strength that I have come to appreciate in the Armenian people.

Hripsik is a hardworking widow with two children. She opened a salon in 2009 and applied for a loan from SEF for an air-conditioner to make her salon more comfortable during the hot summer months in Yerevan. This was a great move for the business and Hripsik was able to pay off the loan years before it was due in full.

Raya with her family and their cattle

Raya Martirosyan has been teaching math in a school in a tiny town named Agarak for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, her family cannot survive on her low wages and her farm is necessary for additional income and stability. She applied for a loan to buy cattle and has been paying her loan back consistently since September.

These women represent the struggles that many Armenian families face and the risks and hard work involved in making ends meet.  This coming women’s day should be a celebration of all the women making sacrifices everyday to better the quality of life for themselves and their families.

Bolivia: Guadalupe Cárdenas, a Remarkable Woman

By Klaartje Vreeken

Guadalupe (in blue) and women from Comité Cívico Popular de la Ciudad de El Alto

Guadalupe Cárdenas was beaten up by a policeman and lost her child in 2002. Three years ago, she started a new institution called Comité Cívico Popular de la Ciudad de El Alto, which fights for women’s and their children’s rights in El Alto, the city above La Paz where many poor Bolivians live.

The first campaign Guadalupe started was helping poor mothers to baptize their babies and to get their legal papers. Her institution provides the dresses for the babies and has so far, baptized around 10,000 babies.

In 2010 Guadalupe also campaigned against cervical cancer. Using an ambulance, they screened around 3,500 women for cervical cancer For 400 women, the cancer had already reached an advanced stage. However, Guadalupe’s group also managed to detect early stages of cancer in around 1,000 women.

Mexico: Champion for the People

By John Farmer

Pily, she's no zombie

CrediComun’s Kiva Coordinator, Pily, is a strong young woman who took part in the UNAM (the largest university in Mexico) student demonstrations in 1999, when the university announced that tuition would rise from practically nothing to around $150 per semester.  “We were a generation that protested, that mobilized; we risked our lives for something more than selfish interests, and we refused to play the role of a zombie.”

Her resume further illustrates her activism: working with street children in Chiapas, building houses for (and with) the poor on the outskirts of Mexico City, and working in the organic food industry. She has served as Kiva Coordinator for six months, and is moving to a new position within the company — she’ll be developing the social projects that CrediComun undertakes.

Kyrgyzstan: Man’s Day

And finally, we do have a tribute to men. Check out Charlie Wood’s recent blog on how to be a manly man.

Happy International Women’s Day!

The contributors to this blog are part of KF 14 (the 14th class of Kiva Fellows) scattered around the world.

Find out how you can lend to a Kiva Entrepreneur or become a Kiva Fellow.

7 March 2011 at 15:38 8 comments

Update from the Field: Man’s Day, Singing Fellows + Learning How to Count

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

The Fellows will be covering International Women’s Day later this week but let’s take a moment to acknowledge its lesser-known cousin in Kyrgyzstan, “Man’s Day”. And while you’re appreciating culture and history in far-off places, take a trip to Peru and West Timor through photos, visit borrowers in Uganda and Rwanda through video, learn a little something about communicating in South Africa, and catch up on the latest from Liberia, Ghana, and Mexico (home to the “Singing Fellow”).

Continue Reading 7 March 2011 at 00:16 7 comments

Five things you may not know about Rwanda

By Michelle Curtis, KF13, Rwanda

Here are five things I would never have known if Kiva hadn’t provided me with the opportunity of living and working in Rwanda…..

Continue Reading 4 March 2011 at 08:00 7 comments

Video Blog: Francoise, A Kiva Borrower’s Story

Adam and Michelle went to Rwamagana, Rwanda to observe a borrowers’ group meeting. Each woman gave an update on their loan and the state of their business. One woman in the group really impressed us with her savvy and her long-term goals. Francoise took us to her shop and gave us the low-down on what she’s been up to. Take a look at the video to see her story.

Continue Reading 2 March 2011 at 12:54 6 comments

Part 3: Borrower protection practices at Kiva partners

About a month ago, it seemed like all I heard about was clients’ denied loans, or who got loans significantly smaller than what they needed. At the time, I was concerned about how many people weren’t getting the finances they asked for. Then I heard about the suicides in India and was glad to know that the Kiva partner where I’m stationed carefully considers how much to lend each client.

Continue Reading 13 February 2011 at 12:00 1 comment

Four days to make a difference?

By Michelle Curtis, KF13, Rwanda

If you are a lender on Kiva then you may have an inkling of how I’m feeling as I write this blog. Elated and…well…wondrous.

Thousands of individuals, sophisticated software, the internet and collective human will managed to pull it off in just four days.

Continue Reading 19 December 2010 at 08:00

Justice On The Grass: Restorative Justice In Rwanda

Today, for the first time since arriving in Rwanda, I saw a truckload of genocide perpetrators being taken back to prison after a day of roadwork. How does a country move on after experiencing such unspeakable atrocities? As a Kiva Fellow in Kigali, I’ve been learning a great deal about restorative justice in post-genocide Rwanda.

Continue Reading 7 December 2010 at 12:44 7 comments

Amasezerano Community Bank: Success Through Understanding

By Caitlin Ross
KF13, Kigali, Rwanda

During my first day at Amasezerano Community Bank (ACB), I learned that “Amasezerano” is the Kinyarwanda word for “Promise”. After being here for just about a month now, I have to say that this word is a good fit for Kiva’s new partner MFI in Kigali, Rwanda.

Continue Reading 5 December 2010 at 04:45

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