Friday, June 16, 2006

4 days and a wakeup

It’s the end of the week here with Life in Africa and as much as we look for similarities among the organizations the more we are faced with the fact that they are very unlike each other. Sometimes it’s the structure of the organization or the lending model and sometimes its one character that defines the group. With LiA its Christina Jordan, the director, as well as the lending model. The community model operating here is very unique. She likes to term it a “physical and virtual space.” It’s worth taking a look at on the web to see what she has built up.

With a primary interest in hearing about Kiva a journalist from Reuters visited yesterday to have a chat with her. We were invited to attend as well and responded to some questions about Microsoft’s intentions in Uganda. No idea whether to expect to see an article or not but it would be great for LiA. Christina has been more than happy to let Kiva take over the marketing role for the community’s borrowers and mentioned that advertising expenditures typically require an excessive amount of her time.

Today Carl arrived at LiA to sit it with us as the community served as a jury for 9 loan proposals. There must have been about 30 people sitting to listen to 9 proposals. All were supported and should appear on Kiva soon.

Earlier in the week we visited one of the businesses that was funded by Kiva. Its located in an Internally Displaced Persons camp in the Acholi quarter here. A sharp guy from the community asked for enough money to fund the installation of a water tap in his area. We showed up and found a structure just big enough to house a tap and a queue out the door. From what I saw the tap never stops. The proprietor is clearly making a good profit represented by the fact that he smokes cigarettes. Here you don’t smoke unless you have some surplus cash. Of all the loans posted by LiA his was the one that was funded first. One of the loan agents mentioned that he is sure that those loans with a social benefit are the ones that get funded fastest.

Its our last weekend in Kampala and as the Lonely Planet recommends, I think we will stay out all night in one of the safest capital cities in the world. Tomorrow morning I have an appointment to take photos of boxers from another gym in the area. Back to London on Wednesday.


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