Jun 24, 2009 PE Peru

This past week I heard from a friend in the US who got the new iPhone. It looks pretty cool – smaller, faster, and even has the long-awaited cut/copy/paste feature. All for just USD $199…

But what if you used your phone to make a living? What if it had nothing to do with apps, downloading music or texting your friends? Last week I interviewed groups that were getting loan disbursements and also followed up with existing Kiva borrowers. While the majority of clients were planning buy more merchandise for their general stores or small businesses, two women stuck out in particular:...

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Jun 24, 2009 RW Rwanda

I am sure that many of you have read of the horrors that occurred here in Rwanda almost exactly 15 years ago, but few of us can actually envision the magnitude of such tragedy and its consequences on a society.

Upon arrival in Rwanda I have noticed many hindrances to development and I have generated a lot of criticism for the country’s economic goals etc. But my first visit to a genocide memorial changed my perspective on the place. Rather, it reminded me of the individuals that make up Rwandan society, and how truly extraordinary it is that they have managed to create a peaceful...

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Jun 22, 2009

Not long after my Kenya Airways flight slalomed into N’djili Airport, I began to hear the noise.  Drum beats.  Cheering.  Flag-waving masses of people.  “Wow,” I thought, “what a welcome.”  I had heard the Congolese were welcoming, but this is a bit over the top!

A Hero’s Welcome – Note the caravan of fans at the top right!

It turns out the ad-hoc parade wasn’t for me (Bummer!) but for the coach of one of the club football (soccer)...

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Jun 22, 2009 VN Vietnam

Total chaos can be beautiful. Horns honk at me from left to right and the vibrations jump from one ear to the other. A river of motorbikes (xe oms) race past my taxi window. There appears to be no traffic lights, no speed limits and few rules. I stop to listen and start to see life—life as it is lived in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Having spent some time in Hanoi as an undergraduate, the bustling sounds of the Old Quarter are familiar and comforting. The streets lined with booming businesses of every sort are images that come to mind when I think about microfinance and entrepreneurship in...

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Jun 22, 2009 BJ Benin

Bonjour from Benin,

            I am approaching the two-week mark of my fellowship in Benin and things are off to a good start!  I am working for Alidé, an MFI based in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin.  Alidé is a relatively new partner of Kiva and is showing great promise.  The Kiva Coordinator at Alidé, my main colleague, is committed to strengthening the partnership and teaching the other staff members how to use Kiva.  I have a good feeling that we will work well together.

            During these first few weeks, I have definitely noticed the language barrier.  I...

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Jun 20, 2009 NI Nicaragua

By Susan Arthur, KF8 Nicaragua

Dear readers,

I am a Kiva Fellow in Managua, Nicaragua, working with field partner CEPRODEL.  I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now, and am thrilled to announce Kiva’s first novela: “As the Microfinance Mundo (World) Turns.”

Novelas are soap operas which are very popular in Latin America and on Spanish-language television in the U.S. On this blog, I will unveil the story of Doña Cony as she seeks credit so she can open a “comedor” or small restaurant on the front porch of her house.

Located in Batahola Norte, a poor neighborhood...

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Jun 20, 2009 KE Kenya

By John Briggs, KF8 Kenya

Update on sentiment shift: On June 23, Tom, the team captain for the (formerly) Pissed Off Kiva Lenders, changed the team name to Unhappy Kiva Lenders. Tom explained the name change in a posting on the team page: “I want the day to come soon when the team name will be ‘Delighted Again Kiva Lenders’ but the step above in the name change reflects current progress.”

Some Kiva lenders are pissed off about Kiva’s recent launch of loans to borrowers in the United States. Their angry cry has been heard in Kenya...

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Jun 19, 2009 PE Peru

By Courtney Kemps, KF8 Peru

Earlier this week I accompanied Maribel, director of Manuela Ramos’s Pucallpa office, and Liz, one of the loan officers, to an informational meeting for a new group of borrowers that turned out to be more of an adventure than any of us had expected.  We rose early Monday morning to take a long wooden boat from Pucallpa’s port up the Ucayali River to a tiny town called Nuevo Paraiso (New Paradise).  It was Manuela Ramos’s first visit to New Paradise, a town populated by indigenous Shipibo-speaking people who had heard about the possibility of...

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Jun 19, 2009 CR Costa Rica

As I described in a previous blog post, EDESA (Kiva’s field partner in Costa Rica) works with a network of Community Credit Enterprises (ECCs by their Spanish acronym).  To reiterate a bit, the ECCs are small, grassroots microfinance organizations formed by rural community members.  FINCA Costa Rica provides extensive training in these communities to teach members how to work together to create and run a profitable business that provides financial services among other things.  I recently visited one of the oldest and largest ECCs, La Asociación de Productores de El Sauce (The Association...

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Jun 19, 2009 WS Samoa

Athan Makansi – KF8 – Apia, Samoa

Jump on the Samoan time machine and watch as a few neighbors help prepare a delicious meal of taro, breadfruit, coconut cream, potatoes, chicken and tuna in a giant fire pit as Samoans have for many, many years.  But no, Samoans don’t make s’mores.

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Talofa (Hello), from Samoa.  I arrived last Friday in the glorious sunshine of Samoa, eager to start my fellowship with SPBD, Kiva’s partner in Apia, the...

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