Fellows Blog Posts by dylanhiggins

Apr 25, 2008 GH Ghana

As my fellowship nears its end, I’ve purposely taken time to step back and revisit my original reasons for deciding to quit my job, stuff my apartment into a dusty storage unit, leave family and friends and fly to Ghana.  One of my goals was to see the impact of commercialization on an MFI’s social mission. 

Recently, Sinapi has confronted this issue head-on when it started the process of converting from an NGO to a formal financial institution.   Like many MFIs before it, Sinapi wanted to change...

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Apr 10, 2008 GH Ghana

I’ve visited over 100 clients in the past two months and one of the most common responses to “how are you going to use this loan” is “I’m going to buy in bulk.”   At first, it appeared to me that perhaps this is a common impulse to overstock inventory so a customer never walks away empty-handed.  But, I was quick to learn that this bulk purchasing phenomenon is not driven by concern about product supply but rather inventory cost.   Here, in Ghana, there is an omnipresent concern over creeping inflation.  And with Zimbabwe in the news this...

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Mar 27, 2008 GH Ghana

During the last month, I’ve visited quite a few courtyards, backyards, sideyards, and frontyards. In each one, I can usually count on two things. One is that someone in the group rises to find chairs for the loan officers and myself and places these chairs in a cool, shady spot. The other is the Sinapi cheer. A loan officer walks into the meeting area and shouts, “Sinapi” and claps twice. In response, the group members yell, “Abapa” (Good Seed). This cheer goes through several more iterations with different responses and the group sits down.


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Mar 13, 2008 GH Ghana

Sometimes the end is the best beginning. And, by the end of my first repayment day, a group of four women marched past me, through the hallway and onto the red dirt path outside the house where they had just completed their repayments. As they passed, some were shaking their heads, others were raising their voices in frustration, but they were all unified by their goal – to make a visit on a member of their group who was absent from the repayment meeting and failed to make another repayment again. The rest of the group covered her payment for her. Now it was time to...

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Mar 3, 2008 GH Ghana

Struggles. That’s what came to mind during my first days in Ghana. The struggle to find my way around to light a candle when the electricity had failed again. The struggle to keep my body hydrated in the heat and humidity. But, much more, it was the heart wrenching struggles of those around me. The crippled man trying to navigate the cratered streets and bloodthirsty taxidrivers. The mother balancing what amounts to a small woodshed of goods on her head while carrying a baby on her back and trying to contain a curious, energetic boy. Around us all, the sun was struggling...

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