Mar 31, 2015 UG Uganda

When I use the word “microfinance,” or talk about Kiva, people tend to picture entrepreneurs in far off destinations, using small loans to invest in their businesses.  And while it may be true that cash lent for seeds, goats or rickshaw repairs in less developed countries is the essence of microloans, there’s more.  Dollars lent drive social and environmental change, too. Dorothy, a microloan recipient, is a seamstress in Uganda. She specializes in making school uniforms for the community. For starters, entrepreneurs are not the only ones who benefit from “microloans.”  Many... Continue Reading >>


Mar 26, 2015 TZ Tanzania

This week I had the opportunity to travel to Musoma, a small town on Lake Victoria in Northern Tanzania, to visit a branch office of Tujijenge, one of Kiva’s Field Partners. I quickly fell in love with the laid-back people and atmosphere – a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam. Maybe it’s the perfect weather or the fresh local food, but the people in Musoma are always smiling. And Bertha, a Kiva borrower, is no exception. Bertha’s loan group, Vumilia, was having their monthly meeting to collect repayments, and I was lucky enough to join them. As I greeted Bertha, her... Continue Reading >>


Mar 24, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Every second Sunday in March, el Día de Boyero (Day of the Oxcart Driver) is celebrated in San Antonio de Escazú, Costa Rica. It’s a day when the townspeople flood into the streets to honor Costa Rican’s history of using oxcarts to transport crops throughout the country. 
San Antonio de Escazú, Costa Rica
Booths are set up to sell delicious local food and arts and crafts. The main attraction is the parade. It starts with music and young dancers, followed by the boyeros. About 100 boyeros... Continue Reading >>


Mar 23, 2015 MM Myanmar

There was no dozing off on the way to Dedaye.  As the taxi sped mercilessly down the bumpy road dodging bikes, motorcycles, ox-drawn carts, and the occasional village parade, I thought to myself,  “Are we supposed to be going this fast?”  The thrilling taxi ride was not the only mode of transportation needed that day.  We also had to travel by motorcycle and boat to reach each village.  This was the first of many borrower verification trips with Kiva’s Myanmar partner, Proximity Designs.  First up was Hmaw Bi Village in Dedaye.... Continue Reading >>


Mar 20, 2015 ZW Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is nestled comfortably between Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa but is often overlooked by tourists. Here are ten reasons to include it in your next itinerary: 
 
1. It has the craziest currency.
 
A few years ago they went through hyper-inflation, reaching up to 12 zeroes on a single note:  
 
 
When they switched to the US dollar, the economy leveled out a bit, but currency became a...
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Mar 19, 2015 KG Kyrgyzstan

As the first microfinance institution in Central Asia to receive a full banking license in November 2012, Bai Tushum Bank has transformed itself from having 400 clients and a US$600,000 portfolio in the year 2000 to more than 28,000 clients and a US$102 million portfolio today. I had the opportunity to chat with Gulnara Shamshieva, chief executive officer (CEO) of Bai Tushum Bank, on how the organization has kept social mission at the heart of its growth in the last 15 years and where it is heading in the next five years. Gulnara Shamshieva has been the CEO of Bai Tushum since April 2001... Continue Reading >>


Mar 16, 2015 ZW Zimbabwe

They may be continents apart, but Costa Rica and Zimbabwe face some of the same challenges when it comes to life in a rural community. A lack of electricity means no fridges to keep food chilled. Cooking is often done over an open fire inside the home but, increasingly, the severe health risks (particularly to women and children) of the smoky environment are becoming evident. And there’s unlikely, either, to be ready access to running hot water.
 
How to address such challenges forms part of the research activities of the renowned Earth University in...
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Mar 15, 2015 WS Samoa

As I approach Faleula, one of the many villages along the road that circles Samoa’s Upolu Island, I am excited and a little nervous. I am about to meet a Kiva borrower for the first time! I wonder what she will be like; will she be happy to meet me and talk about her business or will she see me as an interruption or even an intrusion. When I arrive at Mile’s general store, she greets me with a warm smile and all my reservations fade away immediately.
Mile in her store
Mile tells me that she has experienced big... Continue Reading >>


Mar 12, 2015 UG Uganda

I traveled north, away from Kampala, towards a small town called Luwero.   After the wall to wall congestion of the city, it was a relief to finally have an open stretch of road with green trees and grassy fields to either side.   I was looking forward to meeting Haruna, a man who had borrowed from BRAC Uganda in the fall of 2014 to revive his sagging poultry business.    Six months later, my task was to see how Haruna and his chickens were faring.
Haruna and his chicken house
 ... Continue Reading >>


Mar 8, 2015 ZW Zimbabwe

What better time to showcase the amazing endurance and entrepreneurial spirit of Zimbabwean women than on International Women’s Day?
 
I was fortunate enough to sit down with two groups of women, The Mercedes Club Group and The Divine Touch Group, in Mutare, Zimbabwe. They discussed how the changing Zimbabwean economy has had an indirect impact on their families lives and their decision to start a business.  A few years ago the Zimbabwean economy took a turn for the worse, leaving many people without formal employment and a steady pay check....
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