Posts filed under ‘Rwanda’

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

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