Posts tagged ‘sustainability’
By Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone
Aid: What does it mean for a country recovering from a devastating decade-long civil war that killed over 50,000 of its people? And what does it mean for microfinance organizations that aim to loosen the leash from dependency and push for sustainability? After taking an okada ride through Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, one may find the presence of international aid ubiquitous, and acting as a double-edged sword in the fight against poverty.
In our first week as Kiva trainees we were taught that microloans are not intended for the very poorest of the poor. Microfinance institutions target the unbankable poor, those who can benefit from a loan for an income-generating activity. There is another level of poverty below that, those who need emergency help for basic human needs. Many MFIs develop alternative services for this segment of the population. At CCT, one of Kiva’s partners in the Philippines, they have started a sustainable farm for street dwellers: Kaibigan (“Friend”) Village. (more…)
That’s a question I’d never considered before serving as a Kiva Fellow. I figured that charcoal is a dirty and unsustainable source of fuel, and not one that I want to support. Charcoal production causes massive deforestation and produces considerable emissions of carbon dioxide. So when presented with the option of lending to a charcoal seller on Kiva’s website, I always selected an entrepreneur in a different sector to support.
Flash forward a few months – I have now enjoyed hundreds of meals cooked on charcoal stoves and grills, first in Rwanda and now in Tanzania. I’ve also met about a dozen Kiva clients who make their living producing and selling charcoal. These experiences haven’t made me a full advocate for continued use of charcoal fuel. They have, however, made me realize that the issues surrounding sustainable energy are not white and black, but closer to charcoal grey. So here’s why I would now consider lending to a charcoal seller and supporting them through Kiva…
By Jessica Chervin, KF7 Mali
Save for the high beams of the Land Cruiser and a few fluorescent lamps, I couldn’t see much as we drove off the paved road and onto a bumpy street, nestled deep within the quartier Cité UNICEF, a relatively poor neighborhood of Bamako (the capital of Mali) and my home base for the next few months. Then, from the darkness and dust, it rose: a glistening yellow building that, against the local backdrop, appeared rather like Oz…
I am Jessica Chervin, age 24, from New York, New York, and a proud member of the seventh class of Kiva Fellows. I have had the tremendous fortune to be placed with Soro Yiriwaso (which means “fructify the revenues of the home” in Bambara), Kiva’s first and only field partner MFI in Mali. As the first Kiva Fellow ever to work with Soro, I am charged with getting to know their organization deeply in the spirit of strengthening its partnership with Kiva. So, what of this “Oz”?
Soro, which is currently headquartered in small town called Bougouni, has just constructed its first facility in Bamako. On my third day there, Soro’s director invited me to attend their direction’s official walk-through and reception, at which the architect and several members of the board were also present. The mood in the conference room was solemn. This building, for them, is a dream realized. Soro’s arrival in the capital heralds the organization’s coming of age. But as I listened to each of them reflect on the project, a deeper and greater symbolic power of the building emerged.
I thought of Soro’s mission, “To increase economic opportunities of disadvantaged Malian entrepreneurs, particularly women, in offering them enduring access to financial services”. And of Soro’s vision for itself: “A solid, autonomous, and perennial microfinance institution”. In every way, this building is the physical embodiment of each of Soro’s values. The idea of accessibility, for example, cannot be overstated. Soro’s choice to erect its magnificent headquarters in a poor neighborhood of the capital sends a bold message to its target population: we are HERE, for YOU, and we are not going anywhere. It beckons. It inspires.
We members of the Kiva community, Kiva Fellows and lenders alike, see everyday that the basic and empowering principles of microlending work. But the consistent and enduring provision of financial services by microfinance institutions, the superstructure over a world of people ready to put their dreams into motion, is what makes the system run. Soro’s monument to sustainability is bona fide proof that, at the institutional level, microfinance can, does, and will work. And, as Kiva lenders, each of us has the special privilege of partnering in this industry-building effort.
I look forward to sharing stories of Soro in action with you in the months to come!