Apr 24, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Last Friday, I was invited to the community assembly in La Suiza, Costa Rica. This assembly takes place every two years to vote for the Credit Committee’s Board of Directors. A credit committee is similar to a village bank in that it is responsible for assessing and approving loan requests, disbursing loans to borrowers, collecting loan payments, documenting all credit requests and exchanges, and monitoring borrower progress.   When I walked into the community space, the President of the Committee, Doña Ethel called me over to sit next to her. Doña Ethel has been part of the Board of the... Continue Reading >>


Apr 24, 2015 KE Kenya

It was early Thursday morning, and I was in Kibera on a borrower visit with one of our trustees and two other Fellows. It was around 10AM when I take out my phone to check the time. I see a text from my sister asking if I know anyone in Garissa. Garissa? Why would she be asking me about a random city in Kenya? I shut my phone thinking I’ll respond later so I can focus on the visit. About two hours later I see a new messages, “Just tell me you’re okay.” That message certainly caught my attention.

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Apr 23, 2015 BF Burkina Faso

During one of my routine field visits, I had the pleasure of meeting an incredible woman.  Pascaline, a very confident and friendly woman, welcomed me with wide open arms and made me feel very comfortable. Shortly after my arrival, we got seated and she started narrating her story with overwhelming pride on her face.  She gave me a brief description of how she started her home-based enterprise and then walked me through the compound she shares with her husband, introducing me to her employees as we went along. I was very impressed to see all the men and women hard at work and to... Continue Reading >>


Apr 20, 2015 IN India

Who likes laundry day? Not me. Doing laundry can be a hassle, but eventually it becomes unavoidable. After wearing the same clothes for far too long, this week it was time for me to break out the buckets. 
Laundry supplies. Detergent not pictured.
Doing laundry in Imphal has taught me the value of something very basic, water. Here, water does not come to your sink through municipal pipes. When we turn on the faucet, the water that comes gushing out is simply rainwater that has been funneled into a barrel and... Continue Reading >>


Apr 17, 2015 KG Kyrgyzstan

As I walk through the lively and crowded central market in Osh city, soaking in the sound and smell, it is hard to believe that just five years ago many parts of this market were destroyed and burnt down during the ethnic conflict in June 2010. Osh city, located in southern Kyrgystan, is the second largest city in the country after Bishkek, the capital. The impact of the 2010 conflict is still visible in several parts of the city today. For example, along Alisher Navoi Street some buildings which were destroyed during the conflict still lay ruined. 

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Apr 15, 2015 TJ Tajikistan

“Start-ups” is currently a big buzz word all across the developed world – from San Francisco to Istanbul to Singapore, aspiring entrepreneurs are having a go at starting their next company hoping to make it big one day. Here in Tajikistan, there is also a wave of start-ups being created, driven by women who dream of creating a better life for their families.   In a small district outside the city of Khujand in Northern Tajikistan, I had the chance to meet with a very different kind of start-up business. The CEO/CTO/CFO of this one-man start-up is Mukaramjon, who is also a widowed mother... Continue Reading >>


Apr 14, 2015 PE Peru

Julia in her bakery
Meet Julia - a 46 year old woman with 4 children who lives in the Cupiche province of Peru. Growing up, she always loved eating her mother's cakes and helping her bake. When Julia worked as a domestic mother in the past, she started to practice her mother's craft by baking and reading cookbooks. As her passion for baking grew, she decided to study Bakery at a local institute, where she mastered her skills. Since 2010, her bakery, "Señor de... Continue Reading >>


Apr 12, 2015 UG Uganda

In order to visit Collins and his hardware supply business, we had to travel one of Uganda’s famously poor roads, suitable for travel only by SUV.  Most don’t have that luxury and neither did we.  The dirt road stretched for twenty never ending kilometers of potholes, trenches and dust clouds that left silt on our shirts though the car’s open window in the searing heat.   Collin’s loan officer, Faith, had warned me it would be a journey, and as we...

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Apr 7, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Daysi dreams of having her own restaurant. She pictures a comfortable place for families to come, enjoy, and eat. One day, she hopes to make her restaurant her sole source of income. 
Frying Plantain Chips
Daysi lives in an area where the paved streets are now rock, where many of the cement houses are now scrap metal, and where the garbage trucks seem to ignore the community. But within this neighborhood is Daysi’s house with an attached restaurant. On the way to visit Daysi, the loan officer and I got lost and... Continue Reading >>


Mar 31, 2015 US United States

I enter the room and I’m quickly greeted by, “Hi! My name is Luna. What’s your’s?” I’ve just had the good fortune of meeting the four-year old Head of Marketing of 8 Bit Bakeshop, the video game and comic book inspired bakery. Luna is with her mother, Hannah, founder and head pastry chef of 8 Bit Bakeshop. At Cosplay events, Luna is known for attracting people to the 8 Bit booth by shouting at cosplayers “Come try my mommy’s cookies!”. Not interested in baked goods today? That’s OK. Luna will make sure you go home with an 8 Bit Bakeshop business card and check out the website for future... Continue Reading >>


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