A Sunday outing, MFI-style

By Rob Packer, KF9 (Kyrgyzstan)

This is a repost from the Kiva Fellows’ Blog

I feel it’s almost become a cliché to write about the inspiring professionalism and overwhelming dedication of MFI staff on these pages. I’ve now been at my Kyrgyz MFI, Mol Bulak Finance, for a week and have now seen where the clichés come from: reality. As if to drive the point home, MBG’s indefatigable Credit Manager, Renat was waiting outside my apartment at 9am on a sunny, but cold October morning to visit borrowers in and around Kara-Balta, Kyrgyzstan.

The view from Bishkek

The road out of Bishkek was my first trip outside of the capital within Kyrgyzstan after my night-time journey from the airport into town. Our route out took us past Osh Bazaar, one of Bishkek’s largest, and Kyrgyzstan’s largest used car market, which is a phenomenon I hope to write about in a later blog. Along our route thousands of kilometres of flat Kazakh Steppe and West Siberian Plain crashed spectacularly into the snow-capped Toblerone blocks of the Alatau Mountains, the advance guard of the Himalayas, which rise 3500 metres within the space of 50 km. (more…)

Countdown to Kyrgyzstan

By Rob Packer, KF9 (Kyrgyzstan)

This is a repost from the Kiva Fellows’ Blog

It’s been a short six months since I first found out about Kiva and in that time I’ve moved from having an interest in poverty alleviation and a vague desire to “do a bit more” to graduating yesterday as a fully-fledged KF9 Kiva Fellow. And my physical journey to Kiva has been no less of a complete change of direction: it started six months ago with me working for an investment bank in Hong Kong, and continued with persuading Indonesian internet cafe owners to let me have interviews over Skype in the dead of the night, returning to my hometown of London, England for a few weeks to say goodbye to friends and family, and finally arriving at Kiva Fellows training in San Francisco. My journey to my placement with Mol Bulak Finance in Kyrgyzstan will take me most of the way back to where I started.

KF9 Graduation with Kiva Staff and KF9 Kiva Fellows

One of the most obvious differences between my placement and most other Kiva Fellow placements is that I won’t be dealing with extreme heat. (more…)

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