Archive Page 2

Slavery – abolished or reinvented?

Is exploitation just another form of slavery? This question has crossed my mind a few times today.

The borrower I just visited (who will remain anon) uses her loan to buy materials to make a product.

After a fair bit of questioning and digging. Here’s the dirt.

* The product she makes costs around $1.50USD in materials PLUS 7 hours of labour time.
* She sells each item for $2.50 – which translates to a profit of $1 per item sold.
* She ALWAYS sells her goods as there is ALWAYS a demand.

THE QUESTION THEN IS …Why doesn’t she sell these items for more than $1?

Unfortunately, the answer is that she can’t. This lady has little control over the income from her work. She is limited by the fact that;

* She can make a maximum of 7 items per week (1 item/day)
* The person who sells her the material is THE SAME person who buys and exports the product. They enforce a maximum of 120PhP ($2.50) for the finished item otherwise she won’t receive materials in the future. On the local market she knows her product is worth 500Php.

I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like exploitation of labour. This lady is earning around 15cents/hour, $1/day. Minimum wage in this part of the country is around $5/day.

So let us consider how free she really is. Does she have the ability to increase her profits over time? No. Does she have the ability to increase her production? No. Is she earning less than minimum wage? Yes. Is her cousin employed in the same industry? Yes. Are there others like them? Of course. Where are these products going? Overseas. What are they sold for overseas? I don’t know – but I can guess that is more than $2.50. Is she a “slave” to this system? I think so. What are her chances to improve her living conditions, and the living conditions of her four children? Slim to none.

So where does the one buck stop? I guess I’m throwing this question at anyone who cares about a filipino lady who lives in a small house, in a small village, on a small island – a lady inevitably like many others around the world.

San Frantastic, Time to get real

The best part about leaving a place is that it generally means you will be arriving somewhere new.  You’re sad.  You’re excited.  You’re a whole bunch of simultaneous emotions.  I want to write this, my first Kiva Fellow’s Blog, while these emotions are still fresh;

while the bitter sweet sound of karaoke is still ringing in my ears;

while the last shot of the night is still processing;

and while the memory of 30 smiling fellows is firmly imprinted in my mind.

First let me tell you why I am excited

1)       I am about to embark on a three month fellowship for an organisation called Kiva.  They’re excited about the concept of microfinance.  We all know that excitement is contagious.  If you want to get excited too then skip to The Kiva website.

Continue reading ‘San Frantastic, Time to get real’

Motivation Statement

When I first heard about the Kiva Fellows Programme I knew this was something I wanted to do.  My recent experiences have taught me to follow my instincts and if I feel passionate about something, to pursue it.  This mentality can transpire in many facets of life.  My recent work and travels in the developing world have opened my eyes to a range of issues, and opportunities for improvement. As a civil engineer from New Zealand, while I do not exactly match Kiva’s criteria, there is no doubt in my mind that my skill set could be of use to Kiva and the entrepreneurs they are helping.

The main reason for my application can be attributed to my recent work in the Philippines.  For the last 8 months I have been stationed in a site office in Davao, Southern Mindanao working on feasibility studies for hydroelectric projects.  As I progress further into my career, I realize that my personal satisfaction and enjoyment, in this role, can only be fulfilled if I believe in the end product.  Being an engineer has taught me a way of thinking, of analyzing situations and thinking how can we improve this?  From an engineering viewpoint you may list subjects such as sustainability, renewable energy, environmental awareness, or carbon neutrality.  From an economics viewpoint, you may mention microfinance.  My work in the Philippines encompassed a few of the ideas mentioned above, specifically renewable energy.

My work in Davao has been as much about the people who have touched my heart as it has been about the engineering.  The Filipinos have an appreciation for life that is overwhelming.  They are constantly giving thanks for what they have, but at the same time they each have their future aspirations.  More often than not however, they have no means to turn these dreams into reality.  These are exactly the type of people that Kiva target and because of this I have an immense amount of respect for what Kiva is trying to achieve.  I have a strong people focus and believe that happiness comes from fulfillment of one’s dreams.  Thus the idea of giving people increased opportunities to pursue their dreams really appeals to me.

I feel strongly about wanting to get this role because just as Kiva allows the developing world a chance to follow their dreams, I believe becoming a Kiva fellow is about following my own dreams and desires for what I wish to achieve on this planet.



Hi there, I'm Anna - a 25 year old Kiwi just doing my thang. Hope you enjoy the blog.

I was posted in Bohol, Philippines for 3 months working for an organisation called Kiva as part of the The Kiva Fellows Program. Here I worked with a local Microfiance institute called Community Economic Ventures (CEVI) who were just awesome! From November-January 2011 I embarked on my second Kiva fellowship to Uganda and was working alongside Pearl Microfinance.

As part of the Kiva fellowship we had to blog about our experiences. Even though that phase of my life is over I'm keen to keep up with the writing. Most likely about travels & setting up business in the Philippines - or just anything else that comes into my head.

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