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Posts Tagged ‘microfinance’

well hello there reader (thats singular), its been a little while.  but i thought maybe perhaps we should get reacquainted, for formality’s sake.  i’ll go first – i’m brianfellows and i used to write some stuff over the last year when i was abroad in armenia and sri lanka working as a Kiva Fellow in the realm of microfinance.  then i returned to the states and brianfellows pretty much just died (he euthanized his’ self).  but it turns out he was just cryogenically frozen, awaiting his return, which I believe is going to start happening………now

well its at least rebegun with this post so far.  and i’m really going to try and be better about updating, instead of thinking about updating, maybe writing a few sentences in a draft, then waiting and never doing so.  so, reader (that would be you), i’m back abroad again, this time in the great big large & crazy india.  not unlike indiana, my new home for 2 months enjoys watching cricket matches for hours on end and being confused with ohio for where it stands on a map.  i’ll actually be doing more microfinance work in patna, bihar (northeast of india — near nepal), totally unrelated to kiva, and am here on the ground for 2 monfs – til march – or at least thats the plan as of now.

so yes, INDIA – now this is happening!

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[fellows blog fodder]

People always enjoy picking things apart from a distance.  To me it seems like microfinance has taken a bit of a beating in the last eight months or so.  Most probably that’s because it was about eight months ago that I became immersed in this world when I started my fellowship as a KF9, my first foray into the industry.  But I also think it’s because of the rapidly growing attention microfinance has gotten over the last half-decade, from a nobel prize, to the proliferation of interesting organizations like Kiva and other online funders springing up, as well as bold claims like “microfinance will cure poverty.”

Microfinance’s publicity has paved the way for skeptics and critics to jump at the opportunity to point out every findable foible.  There’s been a fair amount of recent talk here on this blog, but also even running in places like the New York Times, about interest rates in the industry. Questions have emerged regarding whether or not it’s unfair to levy rates on the poor that some see as usuriously high (I’m making that word up if it doesn’t already exist).  And I won’t lie, my thoughts and feelings towards microfinance over the last two placements have been more sobering than rosy, and I’ve come to a lot more harsh realizations than poverty-eradicating epiphanies.  However, I think there is an important aspect that many long-distance observers miss, and its something that took being out in the field to notice about microfinance institutions and their role in the world.  So I’ll share. (more…)

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[from ze fellows blog]

Upon arriving here at BRAC Sri Lanka in February, a brand new Kiva pilot partner, I was all ready to lace up my loan posting shoes and hit the ground running.  And my MFI was ready and waiting for me.  BRAC Sri Lanka decided to designate two districts as “Kiva” districts and upload borrowers from these regions to the website.  BRAC offers similar products within each region, so the “Kiva regions” were all set to have a reduced interest rate due to the fact that the money from Kiva to finance these loans would be arriving at 0%.  However I quickly learned how ambitious our initial posting targets were, especially in months 1 and 2 in the pilot phase on the website. (more…)

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map of the SRI

I apologize for the awfully-punned title but I really couldn’t resist.  Coming down from a humidity-induced fog, I can’t be expected to think clearly or use proper blog-titling judgment at this point.  I’m writing this post from beautiful Colombo, Sri Lanka, as I look out the door to a coconut tree from the head offices of brand new Kiva partner, BRAC Sri Lanka.  Not only is BRAC Sri Lanka a brand new Kiva partner, but so is this teardrop-shaped island nation of Sri Lanka.  I have the privilege of serving as a Kiva Fellow in the class of KF10 to help bring this partnership online and posting loans from across the country so lenders can learn a bit more about this fascinating South Asian nation while funding local businesses.

Sri Lanka is an interesting country for Kiva.  Like several other countries across the world, the central bank imposes certain requirements about funds entering and exiting the country.  So the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is taking a chance on Kiva by granting the ability to work in the country under the conditions that BRAC Sri Lanka borrowers on Kiva are: below the Sri Lankan poverty line, receiving a reduced interest rate from BRAC, and that funds wired from Kiva must stay in the country for at least 12 months.  So this can complicate things a bit.  However, due to Kiva’s net billing model, lenders can receive their repayments as BRAC Sri Lanka continues to fund loans in excess of their repayments due.

The BRAC SL office with aforementioned coconut tree

Basically (more…)

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[a quickie from the fellows blog]

By Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

After making several visits to various borrower communities in the rural villages throughout Armenia, I started to notice a familiar figure emerge.  Each village seemed to have a mayor.  Not a mayor in the traditional, sash-wearing, top-hat donning, political scandal-causing sense, but a mayor of microfinance.

(more…)

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[Hijacked From the Fellows Blog]
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By Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

I have alluded to it several times in the past in some of my posts.  While maybe writing a sentence or mentioning a few words here or there, I think it deserves its own post because it’s turning out to be one of the central themes of what I have learned here about microfinance in Armenia.  The Human Factor.

Understanding your constituents is a vital part of doing business anywhere.  I think in microfinance this becomes especially important, specifically in regard to the customers.  Understanding their needs and capabilities is paramount.  While the good Samaritan in us may want to cater to a customer’s every desire, that usually isn’t the most prudent business decision.  This applies in microfinance, as many of the borrowers are applying for a loan for the first time, and may not have the instinctive financial literacy that privileged Westerners take for granted while growing up with allowances, to savings accounts, to that first credit card.  If you offered your clients whatever they wanted, they would probably take too many loans for too much money and likely be swimming in un-payable debt within a year’s time.  This isn’t any profound revelation, and it’s exactly the reason we have credit scores and screening of loan eligibility anywhere loans are made. (more…)

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[from, yes, you guessed it, the Fellows Blog]

By Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

The symbol of Karabakh, grandmother and grandfather

I wrote about a week ago before embarking on a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region southeast of Armenia known as being a conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  I left in hopes of better grasping the political melee between the countries in the South Caucasus and how this plays into the Armenian identity.  Hopefully this would garner some insight into the role of microfinance in Armenia as part of my 4 month crash-course to this completely new part of the world. (more…)

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