Thursday, May 11, 2006

Business name: Boda Jon

Today we followed Helen and Alfred as they did fieldwork. They made visits to four Kiva loan beneficiaries to check on their development. We tried to shadow their activities to get a better understanding of this part of the process of updating the information about businesses that is later posted to the Kiva website. We are the only white people I have seen in Soroti since our arrival so I can imagine that it was difficult for Helen to imagine that we were invisible, as I asked her to do, but by the fourth stop on our route I felt like she understood.

Because all the processes related to Kiva working with entrepreneurs in and around Soroti may not happen in an average week we suggested to role play some of them. Jon and I dreamed up a business idea and then ran through the application, acceptance and uploading processes with Helen and Alfred. Their willingness to submit to the taping and performing of the tasks was really exciting.

Jon and I decided on a transport business. In Kampala the boda bodas operated on motorcycles but here in Soroti they use Jupiter bicycles from India. They are well maintained, well decorated, all steel and extremely handsome. I thought the Dutch bikes were nice but one of these would cut right through a Dutch bike in a head on collision. Our loan money will be used to buy a bicycle trailer that will allow us to transport large items like furniture and machinery. We think there is a market for these services as car hire is too expensive.

Alfred thinks we may be on to something. He mentioned that there is an annual bike race that happens between Mbale and Soroti and the winner receives a new bicycle. It is about 100km between the two cities. Our plan is to win it with the trailer behind the bike. We think the publicity will be great for business.


Blogger Kaunda said...

Hello thanks for your blog. I'm sure I'm like so many others paying close attention to Kiva. So this blog is exciting.

Check out if you don't know about it already as well as

We all have a lot to learn about social entrepreneurship, and KickStart, formerly AproTec, has proven successful.

What's so great about Kiva is the innovative use of the Internet and blogs.

Dave Pollard had a very interesting post recently:

Making Web 2.0 Work: Embracing Complexity

In order to be truly workable, to be not only a place for fascinating discovery but a place for changing the world, the Web needs to evolve nine capacities that it currently promises but does not really deliver:

1. The capacity to focus attention on what's important.

2. The capacity to suggest practical action.

3. The capacity to enable self-managed networks, exchanges and peer production.

4. The capacity to enable self-directed education.

5. The capacity to reveal deliberately-hidden truths.

6. The capacity to drive and disseminate innovations.

7. The capacity to embrace complexity.

8. The capacity to provide trust, equitable access and participation in all its offerings.

9. The capacity to be simple and intuitive to use.

I'm sorry for going on so long and off topic too. My point is that the research you are doing has broader ramifications than just for East Africa. Kiva, at least it seems to me, provides a case study of the emerging Web 2.0

6:21 PM  
Blogger jon said...

Ei, thanks for your comments! We completely agree that Kiva has broader ramifications than East Africa (and actually it is being tested in several other places). In the case of our research we chose to focus in East Africa because of its particular context similarities. Several of the detected issues might be relevant in other places, some others not. Anyhow the flexible research process we are following might be useful everywhere.

12:44 PM  

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