Saturday, November 20, 2010

4 Things That Make the World Go Around...

I chose to be a Kiva Fellow so I could devote my time and skills to the cause to alleviate poverty and to have an experience of a lifetime. Fully aware that I may never have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in the Philippines again, I also wanted to be sure that I took complete advantage of all that the country had to offer. At the top of my ‘To Do’ list was to become a scuba certified diver (and overcome my fear of being underwater). In order to check an item off my bucket list, I planned a weekend in Dumaguete, Negros, to get my scuba diving license. On the way I met Mike Stone who got me to think about the four things that make the world go around… time, love, money and energy.

Continue reading on the Kiva Fellows Blog!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

O is for Opportunity

When I decided to apply for the Kiva Fellowship, I had ‘opportunity’ on my mind. I wanted to be a Fellow so I could become a channel through which disadvantaged people could connect to a network of financial support, thereby presenting them with the chance to improve their lives. Though I came to the province of Bohol envisioning the most effective opportunities to take the form of financial transactions, I have, on several occasions, witnessed other means of empowering underprivileged Filipinos.

To read more about the opportunities available to blind, deaf and disabled individuals in Bohol visit the Kiva Fellows Blog

Friday, November 5, 2010

Island Life - Where's the Glamour In That?

It was a typical bright and sunny morning as I walked down the Talibon Pier towards the tiny boat that would take me island hopping for the day. I was greeted by six smiling loan officers already seated inside the boat; they watched as I maneuvered myself down steep sloping rocks, balanced on a beam to cross the water, and finally jumped onto the boat that would take me on an incredible forty-five minute ride through the Philippine Sea…

After a few stops and many laughs, we arrived at Nocnocan Island – a tiny island that is only accessible by boat. We pulled up on the shore and walked through a maze of homes and shops, the alleys approximately three and a half feet wide. At the cluster meeting house, where the CEVI borrowers gather on a weekly basis, I was able to learn about island life and how the microfinance loans were making an impact on the Nocnocan community.

Read More on the Kiva Fellows Blog!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Unlocking the Potential: Islamic Finance in the Philippines

“We have Muslim brothers who avail (financial) services but the way they avail (these loans) is against our culture, against our beliefs.” ~Muslim leader, Davao, Mindanao
Islam first reached the southern shores of the Philippines during the 14th century and played a critical role in unifying kinship groups in several Filipino communities. With stronger networks of brotherhood and newfound Islamic faith, these communities were able to resist colonization by Spain and America for over 400 years, preserving their culture and religion. Today, though the majority of Muslim communities are concentrated in the southern portion of the Philippines archipelago, some reside in pockets throughout the islands; Filipino Muslims comprise approximately 5% (4.7 million) of the Filipino population (Roces, 2009).

Recognizing the need for a loan product more suitable to Muslim borrowers, CEVI has recently developed and launched an Islamic Finance product that is being piloted in Davao, Mindanao.

To read more about CEVI's course in expanding outreach to Muslim clients, please visit the Kiva Fellows Blog

Bonus Photo!
The first 10 Muslim clients involved in the pilot alongside the local Muslim leader, Chairman of World Vision, and Head of DMI. Photo courtesy of the CEVI Davao Branch.

Let's Hear the Clients' Voices

Social performance management (SPM) has become an increasingly important topic in the microfinance sector – concerned donors, funders, and individuals alike have been paying close attention to how microfinance institutions (MFIs) balance their financial and social goals. In order to get clients’ perspectives, our team at Community Economic Ventures, Inc. (CEVI) conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with members across the 5 CEVI branches in the province of Bohol.

We developed interview guides/modules based on the CERISE SPI tool – creating questions and group exercises related to the following topics: products and services, policies, over-indebtedness, staff relations, feedback and communication, client benefits, community development and child well-being. Over a span of four days, our team was able to collect data and feedback from client groups to gain a better understanding of how CEVI is perceived by those it aims to serve.

To read more and see pictures, visit the Kiva Fellows Blog!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kiva’s Asia-Pacific Conference – Social Performance, Poverty Assessment & the Frog Dance

As with most Kiva lenders, we believe in microfinance as a poverty alleviation tool. A tool to help the communities it serves by lending money to entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, and improve their incomes. We hope our money is going to MFIs who are looking out for the borrowers, not profiting off their backs. But how can we be sure? How do we know an MFI is achieving its social goals? And as an MFI, how can you monitor your social performance?

To read more (and for pictures) check out the Kiva Fellows Blog.

Financial Diaries of the Poor

How do 2.7 billion people manage to live on $2 a day? Jonathan Morduch and his research team tracked how approximately 300 poor families in urban and rural Bangladesh, India and South Africa manage their money.

How to live on $2 a day