May 4, 2013
When you are looking at the Kiva website, you might occasionally wonder: “Is that a real person and are they really getting a loan for what they’re saying?” How does Kiva make sure their partners are doing what they claim to be doing? They send out over-qualified but eager volunteers who ride hundreds of hours on public transportation, drink countless cups of tea, and meet a randomly chosen sample of the borrowers...
Rainbow seen from Matatu near Mwingi town
May 3, 2013
The most compelling benefit of microfinance and the reason I was drawn to the Kiva fellowship is its potential to empower the most vulnerable people around the world, particularly women. It’s no secret that women have the greatest impact on their families and their well-being, especially when they have more control over household finances. Across most of the developing world, this is not the case but organizations that work to reach women in these countries are helping to change that. Solar Sister is one such organization based in Kampala, Uganda.
Approximately 1.6 billion...
May 2, 2013
The website of a foreign-owned diamond mining company in Sierra Leone states, "Our Diamonds Doing Good: Follow our progress as we demonstrate that responsible and sustainable diamond mining can - and will - elevate and empower the people, the economy, and the country of Sierra Leone."
During my second week in Sierra Leone as a Kiva Fellow, I visited Kono district where this company - among others - bases its operations, and if this trip has taught me anything, it is that there is little evidence that diamond mining has brought any positive...
May 1, 2013
Ask most people where the samosa originated and they will probably mention India. But in fact, these little pastry treats took off in Central Asia and spread to India via the Silk Road. Now samosas can be found in various incarnations, everywhere from Afghanistan to Egypt. In Afghanistan, the savory meat parcel is sprinkled with pistachio and sugar. They’re eaten with pounded dates, chili and shredded ginger in Zanzibar. In...
Tajik samosas filled with wild greens
Apr 29, 2013
These students are in their second year of college at the Maharishi Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa. They will graduate with a Bachelor's in Business Administration in 2015.
As you can see, they had fun taking pictures for their Kiva profiles!
The ladies took the task very seriously. They dressed to impress and made last minute touch-ups to their hair and make-up. And then there was the posing…it was a Kiva photo shoot!
But let me back up and explain how these particular students became Kiva borrowers.
1. All of the students in this cohort...
Apr 24, 2013
Before going to Senegal, I knew I had to take a week off the country during my fellowship to renew my visa (Tourist Visa is only 3 month and I stay 4 in Senegal). From Dakar, there is not much choice for a cheap and direct fly to a nice country : Bamako, Abidjan, Niamey or Praia.
For the first three destinations, I wonder if it was the best time for a French guy to go out there…so, with little convictions, I decided to flight to Cape Verde.
I have to say that, in my...
Apr 23, 2013
"Are you going to Carnaval tonight?" the Taxi driver asked me in Spanish. Newly aware that I had not, as I'd thought, missed Carnaval season, my answer was a pleasantly surprised "heck yeah, I wouldn't miss it!"
Later that evening a few friends and I hopped a taxi downtown and, on the way, managed to find a micro-entrepreneur" who was willing to sell us tickets to the Press Box. Despite some doubts as to the provenance and validity of said tickets, we decided to take the risk .
Carnaval took place on a still-in-development boulevard that...
Apr 21, 2013
The view on sub-Saharan Africa is changing. No longer do stories of tribal wars, starving children and endemic diseases dominate the updates from the region. A new, more hopeful and optimistic picture is emerging; a reality of solid GDP-growth, more widely practiced reasonably free and fair elections, and a wealth of natural resources that range from oil and gas to diamonds and rare minerals.
Apr 20, 2013
One popular critic to microfinance is it promotes businesses that don´t bring value. For instance, giving a loan to a woman to start a tomato shop beside 10 other tomato shops. Instead of creating value, it divides it.
This is why one of the biggest bets from Kiva are green loans. Under this category you can have solar lamps, ecological kitchen and other type of products that aim to improve families standard of life.
I was not sure of the effectiveness of this type of loans until I met….. He has a very humble family that lives in the coast of El Salvador and he is a fisherman...
Apr 19, 2013
As a life-long foodie one of my burning questions before coming to Uganda was “what is the food like?” After two and half months in Kampala I’ve had my share of Ugandan food both in the city and in the village.
Most offices have subsidized lunches which can cost as little as 1,000 UGX ($0.40) but most are probably around 2,000 to 3,000 UGX ($0.80 to $1.20). A bargain either way! The typical meal is made up of at least 2 types of starch, a protein, and vegetable.
Sadly, I’ve discovered that seasoning or spice is non-existent in Ugandan cooking. The starch takes...