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Archive for February, 2010

As a Kiva Fellow, I go to the field to interview borrowers about the status of their loan and talk about the business, the family, and their dreams for the future.  Usually I do a short write-up to update the Kiva lenders, but sometimes I go overboard and write an essay.  This is not representative of most journal entries, but I found her to be such an interesting client that I wanted to share it.  I titled this journal update “Glenda’s Business and the Economics of a Half-Hectare Farm.”  It only went out to 13 people, so I’m hoping for a larger audience here*: (more…)

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The core philosophy of microfinance is the double bottom line.  It refers to the goals of the organization, which are a) to be profitable, and b) to be socially impactful.  But there is another philosophy known as the triple bottom line, which adds ecological impact.  Sometimes referred to as “people, planet, profit,” TBL promotes an environmentally-friendly approach to development.  To that end, there are a host of products that serve each of the three goals.  In this post, I will talk about one in particular: environmental cookstoves. (more…)

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In a shameless attempt to fill the gap left by me not having any material, I am reposting an old favorite.  Also, it is going up on the Kiva Fellows blog this morning, so it made sense to put it up here again.

Within the international development community, a debate for the heart of the movement came to the fore two years ago with the IPO of Compartamos, the largest microfinance institution in Mexico.  Divisive and controversial, Compartamos’ decision to sell shares and publicly list on an exchange is perhaps the clearest manifestation of where the two sides diverge.  One side, led by Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, contends that, at its core, the sole fundamental mission of microfinance is poverty alleviation.  The other side argues that the goal must be maximizing profit and, more specifically, ROE (return on equity) – extending services to a previously unbanked population and expanding via revenue growth.  Just about everyone has an opinion on the decision and, at the very least, it allows for a great philosophical and economic debate about the most effective way to assist the billions of people who live below the poverty line. (more…)

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Beard Sidenote

Whoever you are, you’re looking in the wrong place…

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When I first arrived in country, I stayed at a hostel in Manila called Friendly’s Guesthouse.  There I met a British ex-pat living in Malaysia that has been on the road for the past twenty years.  He was at the end of a three-month trip through the Philippines, and he really hated the food here.  When we talked about the typhoon, Ondoy, that hit Manila last fall, he said the streets were so flooded that the government had difficulty getting food to the inhabitants up north.  “You’d think they’d be celebrating,” he said.

This is usually the first and, more often than not, the second and third impression of foreigners in the Philippines.  For one thing, the food in the Philippines is much less spicy and flavorful than its Southeast Asian counterparts.  Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, even Cambodia use a wider array of spices, giving to food a kick unlike anything you’d really find here in the Philippines.  But the reality is that food in the Philippines is delicious, if you know what to order. (more…)

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Check out my latest photos from Bantayan Island, Cebu City, and Boracay.

Budyong Beach, our resort.

Learning to juggle. I'm a natural.

Distributing knowledge...

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The ubiquitous "Principles of Dungganon" sign.

This weekend I went to Cebu, an island east of Negros, for the Kiva rollout in the NWTF branches.  I traveled as part of a five-person team, including Massah, the photography consultant, Raymond, the research manager, Jubert, the IT manager, and Presy, the Kiva coordinator.  Pocholo, a friend of Raymond’s, needed a lift to Cebu and caught a ride with us.  The six of us loaded the infamous red van and left at 7 AM on Thursday morning.  The road to the port in San Carlos normally takes 3.5 hours, but we chose to take a shortcut through the mountains on a winding two-lane road cut neatly into the side of a cliff.  Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at the port, the ferry was full.  The next ferry didn’t leave until 2:30 in the afternoon, so we drove three hours south along a coastal road to another port in Aclan, where the ferry leaves every hour and takes 30 minutes to cross.  Once on the other side, we had another three-hour trip back up north.  Twelve hours later, we arrived in Cebu City and checked into a hotel.

Our route, highlighted by the black arrows

(more…)

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