Posts tagged ‘Benin’

Giving Thanks for New Opportunities in Benin and Togo

The Kouroumlakiwe Group in Togo received a loan from WAGES to fund their farming activities

The Kouroumlakiwe Group in Togo received a special credit loan from WAGES. This loan does not have to repaid until after their crop has been harvested.

This Thanksgiving I may not be eating turkey and pumpkin pie, but I have many reasons to be thankful. I am grateful to work with two Kiva Partners in Togo and Benin who go above and beyond to provide services to poor clients who previously had no access to formal credit.

Reaching the Poorest of the Poor

In December, 2011, Kiva launched social performance badges as a way to measure and maximize the good created by Kiva partners.  Alidé, a Kiva partner based in Cotonou, Benin, has already earned 5 of the 7 Kiva Social Performance badges, making it one of Kiva’s most socially conscious partners.  For partners to merit Kiva’s “Anti-Poverty focus” badge, they must target poorer populations despite additional costs and difficulties. This week I saw firsthand how Alidé credit agents are driving long distances, in the pouring rain, to do just that.

Visiting Ze, Benin’s Poorest Community 

The Partnership with Alidé is a BIG DEAL for the Ze Community.

Monday morning, it was time to make my last visit to verify client information for Kiva. I headed off to Alidé’s most distant agency in Allada, Benin (a two and a half hour moto ride away from Alidé’s main office in Cotonou). Once I arrived in Allada, I set off with loan officer Aubin to visit the group Titomagba.

During the hour long ride there, Aubin explained to me that the group is located very far from the office in Ze, the poorest community in Benin. The community has no banks (the closest is in Allada) making it very challenging to access financial services.

Aubin uses the red moto in the background of this photo to visit Alidé’s clients. He works with clients in Ze, one of Benin’s most isolated and under-served regions.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the 16 members of the Titomagba group along with various children, family members, friends, including the Chef of the community.

After everyone introduced themselves and I explained why this Yovo (white person in Fon, the local language) was visiting their neighborhood, I began my line of questions to verify information for Kiva.  I asked the group members to rate their satisfaction with their loan on a scale of 1 to 10. One indicates that they are not at all satisfied and ten indicates that they are extremely satisfied. Aubin translated this question into Fon and each group member’s response included the word “DIX” or “OWO” (TEN in French and Fon, respectively).

The Chef explained that before Alidé started working in Ze in April, there had been no way to access loans with affordable interest rates. The women in the Titomagba group are the first members of the community to have the opportunity to receive an affordable loan.

The group members used their Kiva loans to buy food products such as bananas, rice, and palm oil.  The women prepare and re-sell these items for a higher price, increasing their income and earning potential. The group members have paid back 71% of their loan and plan to begin a second loan immediately after the first has been repaid. The women of the Titomagba Group hope to use their increased income to contribute the expenses of their family and provide food and schooling for their children.

Some of the children of the Titomagba Group.

Improving the Lives of Farmers in Togo 

Back in Togo, Kiva’s Partner Women and Associations for Gain both Economic and Social (WAGES) has been increasing its offerings of high-impact loans tailored to support under-served farmers. These agriculture loans offer a flexible repayment cycle which allows farmers to start repaying their loans AFTER their crops have been harvested and they have begun generating income from the sale of their produce. This initial grace period permits farmers to focus on the production of their harvests instead of worrying about their loan repayments.

Adjoa received a loan from WAGES in April to buy fertilizer and seeds.

Learn more about Adjoa and the lives of other farmers in Togo here.

THANK YOU from the Kiva Family! 

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the Kiva lenders who are helping to alleviate poverty in Togo, Benin, and all over the world.

Give a Kiva Borrower a reason to be THANKFUL:

Click here to make a loan through Alidé in Benin

Or help a borrower through WAGES in Togo

From Kiva, WAGES, Alidé and our family of borrowers, I thank you for your continued support.

On est ensemble!

(We are together)

Holly Sarkissian (KF19) is a Kiva Fellow, working with WAGES in Lomé, Togo and Alidé in Cotonou, Benin.

22 November 2012 at 06:57

Update From The Field: a New Perspective from Mexico, Second Chances for Borrowers + a Microfinance Medical Mission

Compiled by Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Bénin

Deep into the world of profile posting, repayment reporting, and borrower verifications, Kiva Fellows have been reflecting on the contrasts between their previous lives and their lives in the field. Kiyomi discovers a new side to neighboring Mexico, Micaela humorously presents the her differing reactions to office problems in Mozambique vs. New York, and Allison learns that directions are not the same where streets have no names. Jamie discovers that medical missions don’t look quite like Grey’s anatomy, and DJ discusses the more limited options for rejected borrowers in Georgia.

Continue Reading 12 March 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

My Favorite Kind of Scavenger Hunt… The Borrower Verification

Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Bénin

Remember those scavenger hunts with friends in middle school? I have fond memories of running around the mall following cyptic directions and taking crazy pictures at each newfound location. The goal was to visit all of the locations as quickly as possible while earning points for the most exciting polaroid shots. Oh polaroids, that’s a nostalgic post for another time.

I spent the past Monday and Tuesday feeling like I was back to my 12 year old self, except I’ve aged quite a few years, the mall is now a West African city, and the destination is a client’s grain storage shed instead of American Eagle. I met Finadev’s driver Monday morning to start my borrower verification (BV), the process of meeting borrowers and documenting field data to ensure that profiles posted on are entirely accurate. I really enjoyed my first BV with Micro Start, so I was excited to start the second with Finadev. We learned just before leaving that the driver and I would be searching for clients using the directions written in each client’s folder at headquarters, as the employee who was familiar with the route was unable to come. Let the adventure begin.

Continue Reading 7 March 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Same Same but Different

Allison Moomey | KF 16 & KF17 | Bénin

One of my favorite aspects of Kiva is the autonomy it gives to partners. While Kiva has strict due diligence standards, the microfinance institution (MFI) partners are the ones who decide what products to offer, what social performance steps to take, and how to execute their plans. This results in a wide range of partners, each with its own unique culture and take on how to best serve the microfinance market in their respective areas of operation.

Having started my second Kiva fellowship a month ago, it has been fascinating to compare and contrast the work culture at each MFI. During KF16, I served as a fellow at Micro Start in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I am currently in Cotonou, Bénin working with Finadev. Although the countries share a border, the people, language, and culture are very unique.

Continue Reading 28 February 2012 at 09:06 11 comments

Realities Of Microfinance In Benin. (Part 1, The White Man)


Just to clarify, this is the sound of a small child bursting into tears at the first site of me. And once again it’s the sound that welcomes me as I enter a Beninese village, accompanying the loan agent to make sure my training has stuck.

“Ha ha. Yovo yovo yovo yovo”, exclaims the mother (Haha. White man white man white man). And picks up the child to force her closer to me.


Continue Reading 16 March 2011 at 12:47 4 comments

Update from the Field: Videos, Epic Commutes + Going Beyond Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Another week, another incredible range of dispatches from around the world. Several Fellows told their stories with video and pictures while others took time to reflect on the state of microfinance as a global industry and in their respective countries. And what would a week in the field be without getting to know a few borrowers? Plus, scroll to the end of the post for pictures you may have missed the first time around.

Continue Reading 28 February 2011 at 00:38 10 comments

Money, Money, Everywhere

And so it was that, clinging desperately to the back of a moto taxi dodging its way to work on my first day, two thoughts struck me:

Great, there’s an economy up and coming, this really is encouraging
But hold on, in a country with such an active micro-enterprise economy, where is the need for Kiva funding? Aren’t our borrowers trying to help the poor?
Well, as I sit here at ALIDe (Kiva’s partner MFI here in Benin) three weeks later I begin to glean some understanding…

Continue Reading 25 February 2011 at 06:00 4 comments

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