Tag Archives: money

A few small bananas

My third day in Nakivale, Uganda’s oldest refugee settlement, and feeling ready to move on tomorrow. Meanwhile my guide and translator, a film-maker and actor called Alex, is in his ninth year of living here. Some Rwandans I’ve spoken to have been here 16 years. Some mention those who were resettled in the US, Canada, Denmark; many have disappeared to try to make it in Uganda’s cities. Most people stay.

And they come. New arrivals — about 3000 each month — put the current number of inhabitants at 110,000. The population looks set to keep growing:  Uganda is receiving refugees from not one next-door crisis, but three: DR Congo, Burundi, South Sudan.

I’ve talked to maybe 20 people, some for five minutes, some for several hours. Olga, a warm young Congolese woman who has galvanised a group of her peers to start making and selling crafts, tells me in well-spoken French that life is better here for simple reasons: securité, liberté. We can do what we want. Many others are less positive. Yes, we could go and live elsewhere, but how can we afford to? Yes, we can set up businesses here in Nakivale, but how, without capital? Yes, we could buy better or cheaper goods from the cities, but who pays our transport there? Continue reading

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Making it work

Photo by Lawrence

First timers – photo by Lawrence

New project, new challenges.

Back in Kazo, the school was about 20 yards from my home; here, it takes a good hour and a half bouncing along the roads of some not-so-nice parts of Nairobi. The Kenyans I’m working with have zero experience of cameras (which also makes it a lot of fun), and I’m told we need to pay them something to compensate for a day of lost wages. And we have only four working days to do something meaningful.

At least this time, I’m not too surprised when we don’t start on time, or that attendance is somewhat, well, fluid. And since my expectations are lower – this is a bit of a trial, before a real (and funded!) project comes next year – it’s nice just to see where it goes. They seem to be enjoying it so far. Continue reading

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A day of microloans

Expect a more substantial/better thought-out post on microfinance soon, but in the meantime: I spent the day with Investours, a non-profit set-up that combines tourism and microfinance. It’s a kind of a Dragon’s Den for well-meaning tourists who don’t necessarily know anything about business (nor about Tanzania) but who can decide which tiny business will get their money on the day they visit. It’s an unusual approach and one that is about to take off, it seems: already established in Mexico, they’re also looking to launch in other East African countries and Asia.

In the meantime though I’m getting into microfinance in a more direct way. This morning one of the guards asked to borrow money again. He always repays it. Continue reading

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