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What Do I Think of Microfinance? Pt. 1

What Do I Think of Microfinance? Pt. 1

This is part one of a two-part post on microfinance. Through Kiva and Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, microfinance became my entrée into this world.  I knew very little about microfinance prior to finding Kiva, other than what I had seen on an episode of Frontline highlighting the company’s early days.  Over the subsequent nine months on the ground in the Philippines, I learned as much as I could, and became a bit of a microfinance apologist, believing it could…

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What I Do: Borrower Interviews

What I Do: Borrower Interviews

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…

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Branch Rollout in Cebu

Branch Rollout in Cebu

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…

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25 Years and Counting

25 Years and Counting

In August of this year, Negros Women For Tomorrow celebrated its 25th anniversary.  The organization commemorated the occasion with an extravagant party titled “Handum” (Dream) with 6,000 attendees, including staff, borrowers, partners, and a pre-recorded message from the godfather of microfinance himself, Muhammad Yunus.  Yunus catapulted microfinance into the mainstream in 2005 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.  Naturally, most people (including myself until a few months ago) think that it…

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Grameen Bank Replication and the Principles of Microfinance

Grameen Bank Replication and the Principles of Microfinance

For a brief overview of the GBR (Grameen Bank Replication) methodology and its use by NWTF/Project Dungganon, see here. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are often affiliated with larger networks, which help to secure funding, offer back-office services, and provide an operations model.  These organizations – Grameen Foundation, FINCA, Accion International, and World Vision, to name a few – partner with MFIs across the world to replicate the model, be it village banking, the Grameen model, or another.  These networks span countries…

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The Galvez Family, Pt. 1

The Galvez Family, Pt. 1

Success in microfinance is difficult to measure because progress occurs incrementally and may take a generation or more to manifest.   Usually, the benefits of microfinance – improvements in healthcare, education, and quality of life – are only visible over a longer timeframe.  For industry practitioners and evangelists, the tangible success stories among recipients of microloans are valuable proof of its efficacy.  On a recent trip to Valladolid, I was fortunate enough to meet one of the most successful NWTF clients…

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In The Field

In The Field

I spent the last three days in “the field,” a term used to describe the front lines of microfinance where the money is distributed to the clients of the banks.  Beginning early Tuesday morning, I set out for the town of Valladolid, a rural municipality about 50 km from Bacolod City.  The road snakes along the coast through increasingly less urban communities, until reaching Pontevedra, where the NWTF (Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation) Valladolid branch is located.  Linda, the branch…

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