Posts filed under ‘Cooperativa San Jose’

Cooperative Karaoke; Celebrating 47 Years of Savings and Loans

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

Institutional birthdays in the US can be fairly stuffy affairs. Seating is often arranged to maximize contact with those in the institution with whom one has never spoken (perhaps for good reason, argue some guests) and they tend to be remembered more for inappropriate comments inserted into otherwise boring speeches rather than for the celebrations that they hope to be but rarely are.

Not so at the Cooperativa San Jose de Chimbo (CSJ). Instead of standing around awkwardly, everyone secretly wishing they were somewhere else, the 47th birthday of CSJ (conveniently combined with the office Xmas party) was a chaotic and energetic no-holds-barred inter-office Karaoke war. This post includes video evidence…

Continue Reading 23 December 2011 at 05:18

All Loans Lead to Home; When an Agricultural Loan is also a Housing (or Student) Loan

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

“We built a little house” she replied happily, when I asked how she had used the loan. I looked down at my sheet. Oops. This loan, according to its Kiva description, was for corn seeds and fertilizers.

Of course, we have no right to insist on any particular loan use. That’s not the point. But of the first three borrowers with whom I had spoken as part of Kiva’s Borrower Verification process, not a single one had used the loan for the purpose listed on Kiva. And two of three had built houses with their loans. What gives?

Continue Reading 15 December 2011 at 05:38 3 comments

Necessary “No”

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

When I was a kid and I asked for something I wasn’t going to get, my mother would start snidely singing, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Unfortunately for borrowers with a lot of outstanding debt, nobody is there to sing to them if they don’t get the loan they are looking for.

My first experience meeting borrowers was thus a complicated one. First, a little background…

Continue Reading 10 November 2011 at 05:32 10 comments

Wrap your arms around me

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

Imagine yourself stepping outside of your tomato-colored house and onto a peaceful street, steeply hung over a mid-sized Ecuadorian town nestled in a lush valley. It’s nearly silent as you walk to the bus stop. You can see the center of town bustling below you. The giant Mt. Chimborazo in the distance and the smaller range just in front of it block the harshness of the early morning sun, casting a soft light on the quiet countryside.

This peace lasts no more than a couple of minutes before it is loudly shattered by the shouting of the fare official of the bright red bus screaming towards you with no intention to stop, loudly blaring from its many loudspeakers the same song as yesterday (indeed, as every day). So it begins!

Continue Reading 12 October 2011 at 08:12 3 comments

Tough Crowd; Pitfalls and Progress in Agriculture Loans

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

Farmers are tough cookies. As it turns out, they’re even tougher to finance effectively. Those who work in agriculture are faced with a unique set of conditions that make most traditional microfinance methods unfeasible for them. This post examines some of the reasons why farmers stand apart from other borrowers, and explores the clever efforts of an Ecuadorian Kiva partner to craft a loan product that is appropriate to their needs.

Continue Reading 4 October 2011 at 14:01 2 comments

Motorcycle Madness

By Marcus Berkowitz, KF16, Ecuador

“Do you know how to ride a motorcycle?” asked the stranger seated directly in front of me, his voice muffled by his helmet.

I thought it a little late to ask, seeing as I was currently gripping his belly from behind as we flew, several mph faster than strict necessity would dictate, around a precipitously tight corner on the edge of the western cordillera of the Andes.

“No,” I said, “I’m supposed to put my hands over your eyes, right?”

Continue Reading 30 September 2011 at 08:36 3 comments

Loan Sharks, Microloans and the Highest Interest Rates Around (they aren’t on Kiva)

Small business owners like Marcia Suqui in Cuenca, Ecuador use their microloans to move forward with their businesses and improve their quality of life. Which is terrific news, because afterall this is the idea driving Kiva: small loans can change lives. But not all small loans can improve a business owner’s standing, because the darker side of the “little loan” market in Ecuador is dominated by loan sharks. Taking a loan out from a chulco, Marcia explains, is actually taking few steps backward…

Continue Reading 24 August 2011 at 08:51 7 comments

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