Update from the Field: Farewells, Mistaken Identities + Micro-Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky

Sierra Leone Poda-Poda

Transportation is an apt topic when so many Fellows are saying goodbye (Sierra Leone pictured)

We’ve officially hit the point in the Kiva Fellows cycle where the current batch says goodbye just as the latest group is getting their bearings at Kiva HQ. Fortunately, there are a number of posts this week to help us through the transition and cheer us up. If you’re interested in a comprehensive image gallery of the hot designs for share taxis in Rwanda, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also got stories about micro-micro-businesses in Sierra Leone, visiting research fellows in West Timor, and the intersection of medicine and microfinance in Bolivia. Plus, take long trips to the field in Armenia and Peru, and catch up on the impact of microloans in South Africa.

Note: Speaking of goodbyes, this will be my last “Update from the Field”. It’s been a pleasure sharing stories by Kiva Fellows with you each week and I look forward to seeing what the 15th class does with this space once they settle in. Cheers!

Economies of scaling down
Country: Sierra Leone / Fellow: David McNeill (KF14)

Instead of buying in bulk, consumers in Sierra Leone often buy precisely what they need at the time and nothing more. Microfinance has a role in serving this market but David wonders about the additional ways we can scale down services.

Share Taxis Around The World: The How, Why & Design
Country: Rwanda / Fellow: Adam Cohn (KF14)

Adam’s comprehensive gallery of share taxis includes “That Bieber Fever” and “King of Hip Pop Officer Ricky The Boss” plus tons of fantastic paint jobs.

25 Years Working Where the Need is Greatest
Country: Peru / Fellow: Noreen Giga (KF14)

Noreen introduces us to some of the clients served by her partner microfinance institution, including a restaurateur, a women who now owns a few cows, and a shop-owner.

Unusual Roles of a Kiva Fellowship
Country: Liberia / Fellow: Carlos Cruz (KF14)

How does a Kiva Fellow get mistaken for a woman, a priest, and a diamond trader? Carlos shares the humorous back-stories plus a few more roles he’s taken on during his Fellowship.

New Beginnings
Country: Armenia / Fellow: Caree Edson (KF14)

While she finishes up her time in the field, Caree takes us to meet a new microfinance client, sheds light on why some MFIs are for-profit, and explains a few of the day-to-day loan management duties of loan officers.

Herbal tea and witch doctors
Country: Bolivia / Fellow: Clara Vreeken (KF14)

Clara devotes her final post to how her MFIs combine medicine and microfinance, including loans for health services and working with witch doctors to ensure women who follow indigenous practices receive medical attention when necessary.

West Timor Research Insights from a Boren Fellow
Country: Indonesia / Fellow: Lisa Skowron (KF14)

Lisa helps connect a graduate student in international affairs with her MFI and then interviews her about her research on financial inclusion in West Timor.

Sala Kahle: Saying Goodbye to KwaZulu-Natal
Country: South Africa / Fellow: Alexis Ditkowsky (KF14)

Many Kiva Fellows are saying farewell this week and Alexis is no exception. Read the note she shared with lenders to her MFI’s clients and check out a few final pictures from the field.

Updates from the past month:
Earth Day, Celebrations + Exceeding Expectations
Trash, Delicious Treats + Community Outreach
Cute Pigs, New Toilets + Everything is Relative
April Fools, Terrible Coffee + Getting Attached
Social Quirks, Justin Bieber + Lots of Carbs


Plus more pictures from the past week:

Indonesia (by Lisa Skowron)

Sierra Leone (by David McNeill)

Armenia (by Caree Edson)

Peru (by Noreen Giga)

Liberia (Carlos Cruz)

South Africa (by Alexis Ditkowsky)

Bolivia (by Clara Vreeken)

About the author

Alexis Ditkowsky