On an island paradise where surfers from around the world come to catch the best
waves, and honeymooners flock, I knew that volunteering in Bali as a Kiva Fellow
I would see distinct contrasts in the lives of the people on this island.
Beach scene in Kuta
Gathering coconuts in rural West Bali
2 15 September 2010 , Bali, Indonesia.
While differences exist, however, these MUK borrowers have a common desire: to take
out a small loan to improve their businesses, and increase their incomes. Putu’s
group members may not have as large an enterprise as hers, but many of them hope
to add another piglet to their business (through profits earned or access to increased
capital) – which will allow them to grow their incomes, and invest in a better life
for them and their children. The process of growing income for many borrowers is
incremental, particularly as the small loans are used in largely low-risk, low-return
businesses…but can be life-changing.
On Friday, I met Jo, an MUK (formerly Dinari) borrower for over seven years. His
loans had allowed him to grow his bamboo housing supplies business, and his increased
profits had gone toward saving for his children’s education and in slowly transforming
his house. In the place of an old brick house with concrete floors now stands a concrete
house with white marble tiled floors. His children will hopefully go to university,
an opportunity he was never afforded. His story affirmed my belief in microfinance
– while it may not be able to erase all inequalities, it can lead to real and significant