Apr 30, 2009 PY Paraguay

There exists a daily beverage that is more omnipresent and culturally dominant than Seattle’s most famous export.  It’s a tea known as tereré and (hooray for American marketing) Paraguayans literally do not leave home without it.

Tereré is a loose-leaf tea that is always served cold.  It involves no foams, whips, or syrups, and there’s definitely no decaf.  Just mate tea, ice water, and, if you like, a mix of mint and lemongrass.  As simple as it may sound, bringing these ingredients together is much harder than saying “grande coffee, no room” to the...

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Apr 29, 2009 PE Peru

As if volleyball and soccer were not challenging enough, imagine playing these sports in long skirts, dress shoes and traditional hats that barely stay on your head in the slightest wind. I have been to and played in sports tournaments my entire life, but until last week I had never experienced a tournament like this!

As a Kiva Fellow working with the Microfinance Institution (MFI), Manuela Ramos, I have the privilege of attending not only community bank meetings, where groups of women come together to take out small loans, but also community events that are meant to empower women...

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Apr 29, 2009 SN Senegal


Over tiny cups of scalding, frothy sugar water that Senegalese people call “tea,” I have a chance daily to sit around with my fellow MFI employees and talk microfinance. The other day, I was sipping my tea with Moussa, a loan officer, and he told me about how credit is established in Senegal.  Now, in America, a credit rating is a logical thing, based on the percent of your total credit you’re using, the type, duration and size of your credits, and your...

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Apr 28, 2009 KH Cambodia

I think that most Kiva Fellows will agree that anytime we meet with Kiva Entrepreneurs we are confronted with a gauntlet of emotions from happy to sad, from inspired to depressed, from energized to drained. While for the most part, for me anyway, the experience tilts towards the positive side of things you never know who or what you are going to run into when you hop on the back of your credit officer’s moto.

I spent the beginning part of this week meeting with twenty-five Kiva Entrepreneurs and felt practically every emotion I can think of. While my first idea for this post...

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Apr 27, 2009 US United States

U.S. Microfinance 101

I hear the phrase U.S. microfinance and I perk up- I’m not alone. Last week I was at a microfinance 101 meeting in New York City. The event was catered to a group of young professionals that were interested in getting involved, somehow, in U.S. microfinance. Someone asked a question about repayment systems for U.S. microloans, wondering if borrowers come into the office to make repayments or do the loan officers go “into the field” to collect? The end goal with domestic microfinance is the same as it is internationally; empower individuals to create prosperity...

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Apr 23, 2009 GT Guatemala

Today is my last day as a Kiva Fellow working in Guatemala City. I will admit that in recent weeks my mind has been wandering to the luxuries of home: ethnic food, safe and timely public transportation, dishwashers, smog laws, etc… But as always, when leaving a new “home”, I know that I will miss the experiences and friendships that I have been lucky enough to experience while here.

As one of my fellow Kiva Fellows pointed out in an earlier post, we fellows tend to receive credit for the support that all of you lenders are really giving. I wish I could offer you one of the glasses...

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Apr 23, 2009 KH Cambodia

Rice plants nearly ready for harvest

Sophisticated income statements and balance sheets are the standard tools used by global corporates to demonstrate their year-over-year growth and net change in assets and liabilities. I saw my fair share of SEC sanctioned 10K annual and 10Q quarterly financial reports while working in corporate banking in New York City, but from where I stand now as a Kiva Fellow in my third month in the field, these accounting instruments are of no use to...

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Apr 22, 2009 CM Cameroon


As a Kiva fellow, one of my jobs is to attend the various centers during their bimonthly meetings.  At the meetings, I have found a routine: watch the groups gather and prepare their money to turn in, sing the GHAPE anthem, discuss upcoming events, and then while the loan officer works out money logistics, I interview Kiva borrowers.  As you can see from the video, the other day was slightly different.

After the meeting, all the members and staff stayed in the...

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Apr 21, 2009 PE Peru

After almost two months living in Puno, Peru and after a few embarrassing moments when tourists I encountered asked me for advice about visiting Lake Titicaca and I had to sheepishly admit that I hadn’t yet embarked, I decided it was time to make the trip. In my defense, I had been waiting for the rainy season to pass and for someone to go with. Luckily, last weekend both my prerequisites were met.

Through a Kiva connection, I met a fellow microfinance worker, Zoe, who was conducting surveys on microfinance interest rates in Puno. In the good and admittedly much needed company of...

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Apr 21, 2009 KE Kenya

I am living in Kisumu, Kenya. Here is a picture of the street where I volunteer, in the Nyalenda slum.

Walking around the slum, one quickly comes across evidence of the post election violence.  Burned buildings are common.  As are random herds of goats.

White people in Kisumu are usually in self-contained SUVs.  Not too many ever enter the Nyalenda slum.  As a result, as I walk, I am usually chased by children.

If I stay in one place for too long, they gather to stare.

In the slum, you find many teenage girls.  Their stories show...

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