Monday, April 25, 2011

Passport Series Part 3: Borrowers in Bolivia

The Kiva Passport Series is a three part, monthly series about countries that Kiva has field partners in. Typically the series includes 1) a country profile, 2) a profile of the microfinance industry in country and a look into our field partners in the area, and 3) the final part is a story of a borrower and/or lender in the country. This month, we are featuring borrowers in Bolivia and digging into the many uses of Microfinance in Bolivia. Bolivia is a country with a rich history, an amazing microfinance sector, and great opportunity and passion for investing in their environment's future. Their microfinance sector exemplifies this!

Francisca is a Kiva borrower through Pro Mujer and she was recently able to improve her house and land by purchasing protective walls. However, due to recent heavy rains, mudslides have destroyed her new construction. Houses, (such as Francisca’s), farms, and lives are under mud due to the heavy rains attributed to climate change. In situations such as this, it is often a tough call for MFIs and villages to decide how to reconstruct and pay back the loans. In Francisca’s case, the community decided to cancel their annual Carnival party, which uses significant village resources, and joined together to redirect the money towards those who had been effected by the mudslides. Clara Vreeken, KF 14, wrote a blog post this
month about other affected Kiva borrowers and highlights how climate change in Bolivia leads to less food production, hunger and protests in the streets. Her article illustrates the importance of Green Loans in becoming a part of Bolivia’s future.

Last week Kiva announced a new loan category, Green Loans! Kiva launched these loans in only a few countries, one of which is Bolivia. Kiva Green Loans are a category of business and personal micro loans for entrepreneurs who run sustainable or environmentally friendly businesses. Green Loans contribute towards reducing waste and pollution, recycling, or re-purposing used materials.

Inkallaqta heading towards the tropics of Cochabamba, Bolivia
Photo Credit: Danny Rico

We are thrilled to be offering Green Loans in Bolivia, especially since the country is on such an interesting development trajectory. Bolivia’s unique terrain encompasses the Amazon Rain Forest, The Andes Mountains, extensive plains, and rolling hills. The detrimental consequences to the environment are high in Bolivia due its widespread biodiversity; such as deforestation, increased mudslides, soil depletion, and heavy pollution. Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales, continues to emphasize the importance of protecting the natural environment throughout development. Recently, he proposed The Law of Mother Earth, which gives the natural environment the same rights as a human. Green initiatives impact everyday life in Bolivia. Kiva supports sustainable practices in Bolivia as a path to increase development and reduce poverty. Green Loans enable lenders to invest in environmental sustainability while providing capital to those in need.

Photo Credit: Danny Rico

An example of a Green Loan borrower is Emilio Comacho of La Paz, Bolivia. Comacho is a taxi driver who wanted to switch his taxi from gasoline to natural gas, in order to reduce pollution and save money. With his Kiva loan through IMPRO Emilio joined his son, also a taxi driver, in the natural gas conversion movement. This movement is popular among taxi drivers in Bolivia in order to protect the environmental and citizens from harmful emissions.

The environment, while of paramount importance, is not Bolivia’s sole focus. Daily life continues in Bolivia and borrowers in this country face many of the same needs that those around the world also encounter. Education is an essential factor in improving lives and increasing overall development. Miriam is a single mother of three children aged 16, 15 and 12 and used Kiva’s loans for the education of her children. She paid for school tuition, computer lessons, chess club, and bought them uniforms and books. Every year she has been able to cover the educational expenses of her three children and was even able to buy a computer and two desks for their use. One year ago, she also got internet at home, which is quite exceptional in Bolivia. Loans such as these, help families education children, change the lives of future generations and empower people around the world! To lend to a borrower in Bolivia, find a loan here

Written By: Kate Heryford and Alyssa McGarry