Posts tagged ‘crowdfunding’

The magic encounter of all Kiva loan participants in El Salvador.

Few days ago, an American couple that collaborate with Kiva translating loans sent me an email. The team of volunteers they belong to is one of the most important pieces in Kiva (there are nearly 400 volunteers around the world). They make possible all loans, no matter where they come from, are accessible in English.

This couple not only translate loans but also lend money to entrepreneurs through Kiva, especially to El Salvador.  Few years ago, they lived for two years in a little Salvadorean village working as volunteers. When they went back to the USA, they did not want to lose contact with this region and they were looking forward to keep helping in the distance. This is how they found in Kiva the best way to do it. They told me translating loans is easy to combine with their current jobs and you control how much you can do.

They told me they would stay for a week in El Salvador visiting some friends they left in the past and they asked me if it was possible to visit any of the borrowers they translated or invested in. The idea of an encounter between borrower and lender captivated me, and we started to work on it. (Not as easy as it may look: transport, communication and logistics is a different story in deep El Salvador).

After some steps we managed to make the challenge of putting borrowers, Mr and Mrs Luehm, and lender, Mrs Delfina, together. It was one of the best moments I have had in El Salvador. Seeing the encounter among these people and the conversation they had was wonderful.

Photo taken by Carlos, credit advisor from Padecomsm, on 23rd December 2011, when Mrs Delfina asked for a loan.

Photo taken on 22nd November 2012. The encounteer.

Nowadays, with initiatives like Kiva ´s, it is not possible to say either “ I want to help , but I don´t know how nor who” or “I dont want to help because I don´t know where my money goes to and the impact it creates”.

In Kiva, you can find more than 2400 stories and pictures of people/families in need, from every sector and from more than 60 countries. Every euro you lend through Kiva reaches the person you choose, and because it is a loan, not a donation, it bets on the sustainability of the project and consequently his life.

Your small amount, 25 dollars, it´s a lot for them.

Kiva, loans that change lives…

…And brings people´s lives together.

Here are all participants in the process of a Kiva loan: Borrower (Mrs Delfina in the center),Microfinance organization, Padecomsms (Rubidia, Kiva Coordinatos,  and Carlos, credit advisor, in the left) and Kiva (represented by KF19 Juan).

Thanks Lehm couple and Padecomsm for this magic encounter!

2 December 2012 at 09:00 1 comment

Rebuscándose in El Salvador. An obstacle race.

There is a famous song that defines Salvadoreans as people that eat everything, enjoy everything and do everything. I have checked these lyrics are right. There is a word usually used for referring to Salvadoreans, this is “rebuscados”. If someone is “rebuscado” it means he does the impossible to achieve what he needs: paying back a loan, help a relative or feed his family. As they say, they can even sell rocks to find a way to survive.

Like many countries in the American continent, poverty affects great part of the population and a job is extremely difficult to find. This is why many people decide to be entrepreneurs, because the only opportunities they find are the ones they create.

But even if they want to start a small business it is extremely difficult to do it. Most of the people don´t have enough money to begin and they have no access to banks. These institutions normally require having a job, presenting an electricity bill, having properties to set as guarantees, etc and the majority of these humble people do not satisfy these requirements. And even if they do, the high interest rates they have to pay makes the business unprofitable. The other day one woman told me she had a one-year loan with a well-known bank and she had to pay back the same amount of interests and capital. Crazy.

One more thing Salvadorean entrepreneurs face are maras, or also known in the USA as gangs. It is the cancer of El Salvador. They are groups of young people (10 years to 30) that control the areas where they live. They oblige businesses to pay a rent, arguing that they will protect them from other people. If they don’t pay the amount, they can end badly.

There are several options:

1. Paying the rent.

2. Not paying, close the business and move to another area.

3.Not paying and continue with the business. If they do this, there will probably be a death in their family.

And this is real live in El Salvador. Yesterday we were visiting a client that had one of the most successful businesses in “Puerto del Triunfo”. Gangs required her to pay a rent that was higher than the amount of the loan she received few months ago. She paid what she could (the same amount as the loan,1000$) , but this was not enough for the gangs. Her son started to receive serious threats to kill him. She had no option. She closed the business and moved to a different area. Now she and her family hardly live with a small pupusas business.

Not easy the life they have and the risks they face. But despite all these difficulties, they continue fighting for their families and dreaming in a better future. Thanks to organisations like Fundación Campo, Padecomsm and Apoyo Integral that collaborate with Kiva, they receive those opportunities they were looking for.

These are loans that change lives.

16 November 2012 at 07:35

A deadly trip and an unpredictable arrival to El Salvador

The Kiva fellowship starts.

With a backpack of 18 kg (half of them are the medicines my mother gave to me), a surfboard that cost me a lot of help and money taking with me, and a box of enthusiasm, doubts and hopes, I head El Salvador, as my father said, one of the most lethal countries in the world. But we always focus on the negative side these countries have. As one film says, lets see the bright side of life.

¿Did you know that El Salvador is considered in several studies as one of the five happiest countries in the world? It is also called as the “40 minutes country”, because it is strange to take more than that to get to your destination. Besides, San Salvador is the oldest capital-city in South America, having one the richest cultural and archaeological heritage in the continent Another strength it has are the virgin beaches and natural reserves, that, due to past insecurity problems, are not that popular as its neighbors’´. Finally, the country has figures than have marked history. For instance, Colonel José Arturo Castellanos saved more than 40.000 jewishs from being killed by Nazis, and Consuelo Suncin inspired the rose of Antoine Saint-Exupéry´s book “The little prince”.

Looking this way to El Salvador, it seems a great country despite its small size. And do not worry if you were not able to locate the country in the world map, I could not either.

After a dying  journey from Spain (15 hours at Washington DC airport + long discussions with the airline not to pay again for the luggage + a cryer baby behind me + out of order entertainment system), I arrived at 7:00 local time to the hot San Salvador airport.

The first thing we are told to do when we arrive to one of these countries is to register ourselves in the national embassy. After doing it, I was about to leave and walk around the city with all my luggage, but the people in the embassy immediately stopped me saying seriously: Are you crazy? You are an easy target in the streets of San Salvador! As I had no place to go before 18:00 PM, they advised me to go to a location where Spanish people meet, which is called “El Centro Español” and Spanish people don´t pay. ”Despite the tough crisis in Spain There are still places where we are welcome and it is free”, I thought for myself.  After their transmission of  insecurity, I had no chance to say no, so I went there.

I arrived to the place and what a fabulous surprise! This Centro Español was a social club where wealthy Salvadorians go. It had a nice swimming pool, tennis courts, trampolines, a gym and many more facilities. I was feeling in heaven. After my long (42 hours) and deadly journey it looked that El Salvador was winking at me.

Later El Salvador sent a crazy storm that caused floods in many regions of the country, but by then I was with one recent friend having choripanes and testing the Salvadorian beer Pilsener.

These were my last hours of occidental luxury before I met few hours later my great partners of adventure Fundacion Campo, Padecomsm and Apoyo Integral.

 

15 October 2012 at 07:00


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