Posts tagged ‘blogsherpa Ecuador’

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

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

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

Ana’s Kitchen: How to Make a Tamale (or a Hundred)

“The stove, the gas, the vegetables, the meat, the pots, and tools, clean water… I have a lot of expenses in my business.” Not to mention the considerable time and energy that Doña Ana Victoria expends making a batch of her delicious tamales. Though she has many costs, Ana makes a fairly steady stream of profits from her market stall. To cover certain start-up costs and her side-business raising pigs, Ana has been lending from Kiva’s Field Partner Fundación ESPOIR for years.

Like most women in Ecuador, Ana Victoria learned how to cook from her mother, who learned it from her mother, and so on. But from here, Ana Victoria is a departure from the norm…

Continue Reading 10 August 2011 at 08:57 1 comment


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