Posts tagged ‘FRAC’

Update from the Field: Client training in Mexico, saying “hello!” to Burkina Faso, + learn a little bit about Albania!

Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18 | Bolivia

The road to work

The road to fellow DIana Biggs’ job in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

This week our intrepid team of KF-18 fellows brings us an interesting mix of stories from a wide variety of countries. From taking a lesson on how to raise and care for sheep in Mexico, to learning more about little-known countries such as Burkina Faso and Albania, this week’s posts are sure to keep your interest. Read on for a fellow’s take on what it is that’s keeping Africa from achieving unity and to catch a glimpse of what a fellow’s first few days at work are like in a new and challenging environment.

Bonne Arrivée: Welcome to Ouagadougou
Diana Biggs | KF18 | Burkina Faso
Freshly arrived to our favorite city to pronounce, Diana tells us a little bit about the challenges, and the joys, of living and working in her hot and humid new environment.

A United Africa Part One: What is standing in the way?
Carissa Look | KF18 | Ghana
Here, Carissa brings us Part One of a two-part blog about the political and communication barriers that face the countries of Africa throughout their quest to become a more united continent. In this first installment Carissa explains how Africa’s sheer size is a great impediment to its countries working together.

 Mexican Tale of Women and Sheep
Emmanuel M. von Arx | KF 16+17 | Mexico
In his last post, Emmanuel covered FRAC’s involvement with “Mexico’s greatest artisan fair” and thus made us aware of some of the non-financial services that this partner MFI provides its clients. In this post, Emmanuel stays on this topic by telling us about another non-financial service provided by FRAC: Sheep-rearing courses provided by a UNAM-educated veterinarian. Read on to learn a little more about the benefits of this service, and also if you’ve always been curious as to why sheep have four stomach compartments.

A United Africa Part Two: Why is my internet so slow, why are my phone calls so expensive and what can be done about it to unite Africa, enhance Kiva, and speed development?
Carissa Look | KF18 | Ghana
After reading this first installment about some of the possible geopolitical causes for a lack of unity in the African continent, Carissa moves on to analyze the high cost of telecommunications as a culprit for some African nation’s lack of cooperation with its neighbors and the rest of the world. In this post, Carissa also explains how these challenges affect Kiva’s work in Ghana.

Spotlight on Europe’s most mysterious country
Alice Reeves | KF18 | Kosovo & Albania
As you might remember, on her last post Alice enlightened us on one of her two assigned destinations: Pristina, Kosovo. This time around we are taken on a brief historical and geographical tour of Albania, her second destination, and she also introduces us to VisionFund Albania (VFA), the partner MFI she will also be working with.

Updates from the Past Month:

Update from the Field
Life as a Fellow in San Francisco, a walk through an art fair + becoming part of a winning soccer team
Appreciating Volunteers & Poetry from a Newly Arrived Fellow
Introducing joinFITE.org, a new platform designed to empower women in entrepreneurship

Plus, more pictures from the past week:

Diana’s sweltering office in Ouagadougou

Diana Biggs’ adorable alarm clock

Veterinarian Linda Velázquez giving FRAC clients and fellow Emmanuel a presentation on how to properly care for sheep

9 July 2012 at 08:00 4 comments

A Mexican Tale of Women and Sheep

Emmanuel M. von Arx | KF 16+17 | Mexico

Who would have thought that my second Kiva Fellowship would teach me just as much about microfinance as about the rearing of sheep? Seriously, ask me anything you want: How do you best hold a lamb? How do you wrestle with a grown-up mutton? How do you treat sheep for worms? Where and how often do you set them a vaccine? How do you determine a sheep’s age? Why does a sheep bite normally neither hurt nor bleed? For what reason does a sheep have four stomach compartments? And how do you compel a lamb’s reluctant mother to accept her kid after birth? I owe this knowledge to UNAM-educated veterinarian Linda Velázquez Rosas, who made a sheep-expert not just out of me, but also out of 200 amateur sheep-owners in and around the little town of San Felipe del Progreso, two hours west of Mexico City. This training was made possible by Vision Fund Mexico (also known as Fundación Realidad or FRAC), a Kiva field partner that excels both at financial and non-financial services (in a previous blog post I documented an artisan fair in Mexico City that was co-organized by FRAC).

Continue Reading 6 July 2012 at 08:00 6 comments

Update from the Field: Life as a Fellow in San Francisco, a walk through an art fair + becoming part of a winning soccer team

Compiled by Isabel Balderrama | KF17 + KF18 | Bolivia

On this week’s update we have a great collection of posts describing some of our Kiva Fellows’ Class 18 arrival to their new and exciting field assignments. But first, we are treated to an article from an out-going fellow who takes us on a visually-pleasing journey through Mexico’s largest artisan fair. This week’s journey also takes us to Kosovo and to its capital Pristina, where we will learn more about this small new state in the Balkans. Then its off to Peru, where we are given the opportunity to learn more about Kiva’s goal of creating a global link between lenders and borrowers by examining one example: promoting community development through team sports. Yey for soccer! Finally, the narrative wouldn’t be complete without a Kiva’d up take on The Real World which you should read if you have always wondered what the famed week of fellows’ training in Kiva Headquarters, San Francisco is like. Enjoy!

Continue Reading 25 June 2012 at 09:00 6 comments

Beyond Financial Services: Mexico’s Greatest Artisan Fair

Emmanuel M. von Arx | KF 16+17 | Mexico

Shortly after arriving at my first Mexican microfinance organization, FRAC (or Fundación Realidad, soon to be called Vision Fund Mexico), I had the joyful task of presenting in the name of Kiva two Social Performance Badges to its enthusiastic staff: one for Vision Fund Mexico’s strong and persistent focus on poor people, and one for the organization’s success in empowering families and communities. The description of the Family and Community Empowerment Badge on Kiva’s homepage immediately piqued my interest: it states that recipients of this badge “implement innovative business practices and offer services in addition to their financial products to meet the needs of the people they serve.” Innovative business practices and additional services beyond financial products? At FRAC? I began to ask members of FRAC’s staff and was soon pointed to some great examples of non-financial services that Vision Fund Mexico has provided in past months and year: they include support in product marketing and distribution given to beekeepers and artisan villages, over 380 free financial literary workshops for well over 4,000 borrowers, and free expert veterinarian training and medical services provided to hundreds of borrowers who are raising cows and sheep in their backyard. While I hope that some of these topics will be addressed by future guest blog posts of FRAC staff members (continuing the series that was started by Rosa’s gorgeous post on her recent field visit), I will report here on FRAC’s selfless contribution to Mexico’s largest artisan fair, the Expo FONAES. In many ways, this is just another example to David Gorgani’s great piece on the wide range of non-financial services that Kiva field partner organizations provide.

Continue Reading 22 June 2012 at 08:00 4 comments

Recycling for Life and Family in the Mexican Countryside

Emmanuel M. von Arx | KF 16+17 | Mexico

I have a confession to make: I love to browse Kiva borrower profiles – even occasionally without any actual intention to make a loan. I believe that reading the stories of borrowers from all over the world and knowing their dreams tells me more about a country and the mentality of its people than even the best of all travel guidebooks. And knowing some of the challenges they are facing in their lives and how they are surmounting them, being aware of the long hours they work every day and their dedication to their families – all this inspires me deeply and on a very personal level: if people can thrive under difficult circumstances thanks to incredibly hard work and a dream, then I should and will be able to do something meaningful and lasting with my own life as well! My Kiva lender profile reads: “I loan because… Kiva borrowers never cease to inspire me with their courage, talent, and dedication!”

That strong sense of inspiration that speaks to me out of every Kiva borrower’s history has been multiplied during my time in the field as a Kiva Fellow in the course of many personal meetings with borrowers. I have met literally dozens of borrowers who have left an indelible mark in my heart and mind. But recently I have met a borrower who is so extraordinary and unusual that even I – one of the more seasoned Kiva Fellows – was blown away. Her name is Ma de los Angeles and this blog entry tells the story of her work and her success.

Continue Reading 1 June 2012 at 08:00 6 comments

The Heart of Kiva – A Guest Blog from Mexico

Emmanuel M. von Arx | KF 16+17 | Mexico

Kiva is all about stories – what draws us all in and inspires us to lend are the stories of courageous micro-entrepreneurs that speak of hard-ship and success, challenges and dreams, love and dedication. But Kiva is not just about borrowers and their stories. It is also about the people behind the scene on the ground – the staff of the close to 150 field partners of Kiva – who screen loan applicants, grant, administrate, and look after Kiva loans, and make sure that Kiva borrowers are treated respectfully and fairly. Their stories are almost never told. Yet, the local staff of Kiva´s Field Partners are those people who make the magic happen – they are the ones who make Kiva possible. If Kiva Fellows are called the “eyes and ears in the field”, I propose local MFI staff be called “the brain and heart of Kiva.” MFI staff has insights on the conditions on the ground, the local mentalities, and the practical aspects of microfinance that can rival (and – I have no doubt – normally exceed) those of Kiva staff and Fellows. Yet, their perspective is seldom heard and their stories are rarely told.

Just how much local field partner staff have to tell and to share with the world I learned during the brief three week period during which I had the pleasure to be the Kiva Fellow for FRAC or Fundación Realidad (soon to be known as Vision Fund Mexico) in Mexico City. FRAC, has over 200 employees – they encompass 200 breathtaking stories and lives from all over Mexico, coming together in FRAC’s vision of wanting to provide financial and non-financial services to those families who do not have access to formal banking services in order to improve their quality of life.

During my work in FRAC’s Mexico City Headquarter, the MFI’s staff turned out to be an endless source of inspiration for me. There was not one person I talked to whose story and motives wouldn’t be worth sharing. Within a few brief hours I felt not just surrounded by close friends, but soul-mates – I discovered that everybody around me was at least as passionate and enthusiastic about FRAC’s and Kiva’s work and the impact of micro-finance as I am.

As soon as I told FRAC’s staff about the Kiva Fellows Blog, I was bombarded with requests of staff members to publish their thoughts and their experiences on it. Many have a particular pet project they feel most passionate about; others have made an experience on the job they are keen to share. Thus grew the idea of creating a little guest blog within the Kiva Fellow Blog. I offered to all staff to publish their thoughts and words on the Fellows’ blog as a way to make readers aware that Kiva doesn’t just connect lenders with borrowers, but that it connects lenders with local staff with borrowers with friends with staff with borrowers with lenders with… stop! Let’s just say: Kiva connects people through lending!

Rosa Gonzalez is the first staff member of FRAC who agreed to share her experience. She was hired by FRAC as their English-Spanish translator a few days after I joined the organization as a Kiva Fellow. Rosa translates both borrower profiles and journals for FRAC borrowers before they are being published or sent to lenders. But let me introduce Rosa in her own words – you will immediately see that they are pure poetry.

Continue Reading 24 April 2012 at 08:58 5 comments


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