When I first landed in Freetown International Airport, I had the honor of being welcomed by Mr. Donald Ola Smart, who's position at Mountain Lion Agriculture (MLA) I was not sure of at that time. However, while we were driving back to Makeni, the capital of the northern province and where MLA's headquarters are, he talked at length about Sierra Leone’s past history and his commitment to the reintegration into society of the civil war’s ex-combatants (a deadly conflict that Sierra Leone suffered from 1991 to 2001). I also soon grasped that he is actually the CEO of MLA...Continue Reading >>
Normally, when I go on borrower verification visits I am accompanied by someone from the Field Partner office, both to serve as a translator and (I suspect) to ensure I don’t get lost forever somewhere out there. This story began with an unchaperoned borrower verification trip and ended up with a deep dive into the exciting social enterprise scene in Armenia. The last client I had to visit from my borrower verification list for Nor Horizon, one of the Armenian Field Partners I am working with, was also the client located farthest away in Kapan, a city approximately 7 hours south of...Continue Reading >>
Growing up in Lagos as an Indian immigrant for nearly 15 years, I thought I had seen it all. From the traffic (affectionately known as go-slow), to the haggling with local vegetable sellers and prolonged power outages, there is a controlled chaos that binds together the residents of the world’s sixth largest city.
Agriculture is a key component of the Nigerian economy, making up 24% of its total GDP. However, the agricultural sector has not kept up with rapid population growth, and...Continue Reading >>
In a recent report from the Oxford Business School, it was estimated that 66% of Ghana’s rice consumption was supported by imports. This figure might sound almost absurd when one considers the availability and fertility of soil suitable for rice crops or the dedication to hard work of Ghanaian farmers. Part of the endeavour to restore better levels of local rice production - the government-driven irrigation project in the Volta region (East Ghana) - started around 4 years ago on an area extending over more than 5,000 hectares. With a willingness to provide land to a maximum number of...Continue Reading >>
During my fellowship in Nicaragua I have come across some incredible borrowers, and their stories have touched me profoundly. I already knew this was going to happen, and it was one of the reasons why I wanted to become a Kiva fellow. What I did not know, however, was that these borrowers – and especially the women borrowers I met – would teach me some invaluable life lessons that I will take back to Europe with me.
Here I want to share...
It’s been almost 1 year now since I joined Kiva as a partner impact fellow. It has been quite an exciting experience seeing what I have achieved throughout my project and how I've developed various skills in research and project management. My first assignment involved working with 2 partners - 1 in Kenya and 1 in Rwanda - to identify opportunities in their product portfolio to introduce new products or tweak existing products for the impact evaluation project. In Kenya, I worked closely with the head of marketing and business development to identify the product and service in...Continue Reading >>
Georgia has one of the oldest histories of any country on Earth. In fact, the recent discovery of 8,000-year-old storage containers show that Georgians may be the first inventors of wine. For that alone, we thank them. Despite neighbors that have tried to conquer them for centuries, they have maintained a unique culture. Situated in the Caucuses right where Europe meets Asia, Georgians have borrowed from many cultures that have traveled through their land along the Silk Road. Here’s Georgia’s location: Their impressive history lasts for thousands of years. As a Kiva Fellow, I was lucky... Continue Reading >>
Go to any home in El Salvador and you are sure to encounter one thing: A working sink? No. Air conditioning? No. A flushing toilet? Maybe. The one thing you’re guaranteed to see is a hammock. They’re as much of a Salvadorian staple as the pupusa, and they’re woven ubiquitously throughout the culture. I’ve conducted many a borrower verification sitting on a hammock, across from the interviewee on the hammock parallel. I’ve eaten dinner on a hammock. I’ve fallen asleep on many hammocks.Continue Reading >>
As many readers of this blog likely know, Kiva lends zero-interest capital to microfinance institutions (MFIs) all over the world. Perhaps fewer of you know that the majority of those MFIs charge their clients interest on the loans they receive through Kiva - sometimes as high as 35% to 40% in my regions. I’ll admit, I was disappointed when I learned that peculiar detail of the Kiva model. However, the fact that I’m writing this post should be proof enough that my on-the-ground work with Kiva’s Field Partners has changed me from a skeptic to a believer. Care to know how I got there...Continue Reading >>