Posts tagged ‘Togo’

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

Updates from the Field: Past and Present, Last-Minute Contemplation and General Appreciation

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 | Dominican Republic

The KF17 Fellows are heading home. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, many of KF17’s Fellows have already ended their service and many more will be ending theirs within the next few days. Through retrospective contemplation on what we have and haven’t accomplished in the past four months, through appreciation for what we have loved most in our time as Fellows, and through last-minute insight on the economy and culture of our second homes, this week’s Updates from the Field expresses KF17’s common sentiment of closure.

Continue Reading 4 June 2012 at 09:00 3 comments

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same)

Michael Slattery | KF17 | Togo

Is Togo much different from what the 1969 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has to say?  Agriculture still dominates the economy, people still haul in the fishing nets by hand on the beach in the morning, pagnes are still sold in the markets, and animism is still practiced — though not as much as before.  Pictures don’t define a nation, so read on.

Dusk in Lomé is a special time when people leave their offices and head home for the evening. On street corners and along avenues, evening vendors lay out their wares. Charcoal fires are stoked in old oil drums or large metal basins to cook chicken and beef brochettes — thin skewers of heavily spiced meats — tempting passersby. In these moments when the roar of traffic momentarily silences, a faint muezzin’s call can be heard, reflecting Islam’s lesser presence in these parts.

Sitting on a patio along the boulevard circulaire — the ring of road that girds the city center — I can both see the ocean and admire the rush of speeding motorcycle taxis as they carry their passengers to and from destinations unknown. In the time I have been here, nearly all road and storm sewer work in the core has been finished: the paving stones that make up the sidewalks are falling into place, and even young palm trees have been planted along the medians. The sense of well-being that comes from well-paved roads and proper sidewalks is palpable. And so Lomé la Belle moves further away from the denizen’s local moniker of Lomé la Poubelle (the garbage bin). (more…)

29 May 2012 at 11:52 5 comments

Update from the Field: Translation Follies, Contemplating Kindness and Comfort and KF Cribs

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 | Dominican Republic

This week’s stories from the field span topics ranging from ill-equipped law enforcement to the “luxurious” living places of Kiva Fellows. Two of this week’s posts – “Lost in Translation” and “Home is Where the Fellow Is” – compile material from Fellows around the world to give some insight to the similarities and the differences in typical Fellow experiences, while the other two – “Clean Water and Safe Streets: What do we take for Granted?” and “More than Just Fun in the Philippines” offer end-of-Fellowship level insight about the many opportunities for growth and learning that this amazing experience has presented.

Continue Reading 21 May 2012 at 09:00 4 comments

Update from the Field: Thoughts on Wealth, Religion and History, Foods from the Field, and a Day in the Life of a Fellow

Compiled by David Gorgani | KF17 | Dominican Republic

As our fellowships wind down and as the first batch of KF17 fellows packs up to head home, the time has arrived to reflect on our experiences in the field and on the realities faced on a daily basis by the people living in the countries in which we’ve spent the past 3-4 months.  Whether discussing religious beliefs, economic circumstances, history, or simply what’s for lunch tomorrow, our time in the field has finally given us the ability to analyze these realities with something resembling authority.  Furthermore, after almost 4 months in the field we can finally contemplate the idea of showing our readers what the elusive “typical day” in the field is like.  Enjoy!

Continue Reading 7 May 2012 at 09:00 6 comments

Down the Hatch

Michael Slattery | KF17 | Togo

My favourite breakfast at the commonplace street-side caféteria. A three-egg omelette made with shallots, tomatoes and spicy green peppers stuffed into a baguette. The café au lait is prepared using instant coffee and sweetened condensed milk. French influenced and yet distinctly West African. Price, 450 FCFA for the sandwich and 150 FCFA for the coffee, or total USD $1.20.

For those who love to eat as much as I do, I salute you and call you henceforth my brothers, my sisters, my true fellow companions in life.  Eating is a passion of mine; I’ve had a good run thus far and hope to have many more good days ahead of me. When I worked planting trees in the aftermath of Canada’s logged bush, I would consume absurd amounts of food every day, and find myself hungry only half an hour after having eaten an amount of food that, verily, makes me now a bit uneasy.  Subsequent to that uniquely terrible and beautiful occupation, my metabolism has never been quite the same, and eating has consequently taken on a different, more epic quality that — like the tide — rises and falls relative to my phases of activity.

An average lunch: veilli (black eyed peas), moulu (rice), pasta, amadan (fried plantain), a boiled egg, some diced carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, and all lathered with a beef desi (sauce), a spoonful of mayonnaise (thank you, France) and, again, a dollop of hot pepper paste. Price, 500 FCFA, or USD $1.

Growing up with a Chinese mother, you luck out in the food department: a lot of spices and varied ingredients result in a large number of dishes. Food preparation is diverse, eating style is communal, your olfactory system gets used to a range of tastes and, especially, many food textures. Fufu is a West African staple, made of cassava that has first been peeled, cut into chunks, boiled, and then is pounded in a wooden mortar with long, thick, and heavy shaped wooden staffs only somewhat shorter than the holder. Small amounts of water are added during the pounding process to lubricate and add moisture to the product. After a few minutes, what’s left is a velvety, moist, gelatinous and tacky substance that gets eaten all the time at any time of day. (more…)

25 April 2012 at 10:00 12 comments

Update from the Field: World Happiness, Food Aid + When Beauty and Poverty Collide

Compiled by Allison Moomey | KF16 & KF17 | Bénin

Now there comes a time in every Kiva fellow’s life when… he or she begins contemplating, analyzing, and trying to make sense of the past few months’ experiences. We’ve learned how to navigate busy streets, seen joyful faces, and witnessed trials in the lives of clients. From transportation to foreign aid, we’ve gained a little insight, and many of us now have deeper poverty alleviation thoughts rolling around in our heads. While our fellowships may not have given us an answer as to how to sustainably develop a country’s economy, they have raised a lot of valuable questions for us to contemplate. Read this week’s posts to check out perspectives on the World Happiness Report from the country ranked lowest, reflections on aid, development and agriculture, creative transportation, and the reality of poverty amidst beautiful beach landscapes.

Continue Reading 17 April 2012 at 02:00 4 comments

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