Sep 26, 2007 KH Cambodia

First day in the field

On the morning of the 5th September, a credit officer, a man who works in the office and speaks both English and Khmer, and I headed out to the field. The credit officer had his own motorbike, and I sat on the back. Despite being early morning the thick heat hung in the air and was steadily increasing. We zoomed up the main streets for about 15 minutes, past restaurants, markets and shops until we came to an abrupt stop by an alleyway that I probably would not have noticed myself. It was so narrow that the bikes...

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Sep 25, 2007 WS Samoa

Talofa! I can hardly believe that I am writing this from Samoa, the “Treasured Islands of the South Pacific”. I hope you will bear with me over the next 13 weeks as I share my experiences of working at the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), Kiva’s partner MFI on the island.

Departing Los Angeles on a direct red-eye to Samoa, I arrived in the wee hours of the morning, weary and excited. The humid island air and a light rain were the first things to greet me as I stepped off the plane. I was later informed that my arrival coincided with the first signs of precipitation in...

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Sep 18, 2007 KE Kenya

Totos in Kayole Slums

Jambo Jambo everyone! Sadly my blogging and Kiva time has come to an end, I am actually writing this from home as I thought it would be interesting to compose my final installment from the perspective of being back in the ‘developed’ world. But before I launch into the big spiel I prepared about my amazing time in Africa, I will first delve into my last week working at Action Now Kenya.

My last week was pretty busy,...

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Aug 27, 2007 UG Uganda

I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual African Microfinance Conference last week! Over 500 top government officials, academics, policy makers, and representatives from the private and public sector congregated at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala for the four day event. Although I learned a lot from the presentations, speeches, and panel discussions, the networking opportunities were the real strength of the conference. Amidst the numerous dining and coffee breaks I had the chance to chat with Uganda’s Minster of Microfinance and the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic...

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Aug 22, 2007 GT Guatemala

Here’s a little video of a more average women’s group meeting at Friendship Bridge. The women meet, pray, have a little team-building exercise, have some “informal education”, this time about how to vote in the upcoming election, then pay their “cuota”, the monthly payment, and figure out about the next meeting. The informal education is one of the facets of Friendship Bridge that they’re most proud of. They want the credit program to be a path to educational growth. The Friendship Bridge women attend these meetings every 28 days (4 weeks). They...

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Aug 20, 2007 GT Guatemala

Ever wonder what a real women’s group meeting looks like? Here’s a Guatemalan example, a paperwork meeting for Friendship Bridge in Tecpan. This is where they make the all-important and sometimes stressful decision about how big a loan they want to ask for. Everybody has to come and bring their “cedula” or national identification card. There were 30 women in the group last time, and this time they’re adding four new ones. All 34, with various children and other relatives (and the occasional dog) are crammed into a little unfinished room with a dirt floor...

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Aug 18, 2007 KE Kenya

Hi readers!  My name is Ben Elberger and I work with Kiva as a Microfinance Partnerships Manager.  I’ll be blogging for the next six weeks from Africa as I travel with Chelsa Bocci and John Berry, Kiva Microfinance Partnership Directors, to our partners in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

Right now, I’m sitting in my friends’ dining room packing up final things and getting ready to head out to Dulles Airport for my flight to Entebbe (via Amsterdam).  Chelsa and I will meet up in Amsterdam and we’ll rendezvous with John in Uganda.  It’s...

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Aug 15, 2007 UG Uganda


Amidst many adventures, this week has had its share of sobering events. Many of Life in Africa’s (LiA) Kiva borrowers live in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Kampala. As a Kiva fellow, I travel to their homes to chat with them about the challenges they face operating small-scale businesses. On most days, the head of LiA’s microfinance program, Grace Ayaa, accompanies me on my interviews to serve as a translator. On Saturday Grace was late to our meeting. After some time she showed up looking dazed and disheartened. Grace informed...

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Aug 15, 2007 KE Kenya


So alas, despite my proclamations last week of being the ‘Britney Spears of Africa’ or as I prefer the ‘Princess Di’, no one has asked me for my autograph. But fret not, I still have about a month to go and many more adventures to have! I am really enjoying this blogging malarkey, I will admit that up until a few months ago, I was ignorant about what a blog was, but now I am getting into it, and it’s a really interesting way of communicating with people. So anyway, last week I remarked on how the buses were quickly...

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Aug 13, 2007 GT Guatemala


This morning we woke up at 4am to catch a microbus from Nebaj, Quiche, Guatemala to interview a group of women in San Francisco Javier. The reason for the interview is to write the story of their business and lives in order to help obtain microloans on for Friendship Bridge in Guatemala. The rain was pouring as we made our way through the deep puddles of the dark streets. Only a few people were out at this time of the morning, walking in the rain underneath...

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