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Agriculture and Rural Development

'Facebook for farmers' brings microloans to people in rural China

James I Davison's picture

The founders of a microfinance website I came across a few months ago are giving an interesting, benevolent twist to social networking. At least, that’s one way of looking at Wokai.org, a non-profit organization benefiting entrepreneurs in rural China.

Wokai has been dubbed by some as a “Facebook for farmers,” yet it may be more comparable to well-known microfinance sites like Kiva, which allow people with an Internet connection to give loans directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Wokai, however, focuses solely on impoverished people living in rural China.

More than a dam: In Laos, history still makes itself present after 41 years

Victoria Minoian's picture

At Ban Thalang, a resettled village in the Nakai area of Laos, a standing memory of a not-so-forgotten past is now being happily used as a green onion harvesting pot.

Solomon Islands: Bringing agriculture and infrastructure services to rural island communities

Edith Bowles's picture

The expense of operating outboard motor boats means that visits to each community are few and far between.
In December 2008, I spent two and a half days traveling around the Solomon Islands with officers from the government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, which is implementing components of the World Bank’s Rural Development Program (RDP) in Western Province. Jointly funded by the EU and Australia, RDP is the World Bank’s biggest project in Solomon Islands.

In December, the project was just beginning to get going in the provinces. The agriculture workers were looking to the RDP to help restore agriculture extension services. Practically speaking, this means purchasing small boats, outboard motors, fuel, or rehabilitation of offices. At the Ag offices, I was told about the series of dead outboard boat motors lining one wall – including provenance and whatever series of incidents had rendered them inoperable.

Seeing the financial crisis: What might contraction look like in Cambodia?

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

Declining revenue of tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia shows even the informal sector isn't insulated.
Growth forecasts in Cambodia are generating a fair bit of confusion. Many simply question whether it is possible for GDP growth to be lower in 2009 than in the past 15 years.

The World Bank today launches its projection of a 1 percent contraction of the Cambodian economy. This is based on an analysis of available statistics and feedback from a range of economic actors. Yet, to most of my Cambodian friends, it remains hard to conceive.

It is true that "seeing" such a contraction will be difficult. Basically, what it means is that economic activity in 2009 will be pretty much the same as in 2008. So the fact that we continue to have traffic jams in Phnom Penh, see tourists at the Royal Palace, and hear construction machines in many residential areas is consistent with such a projection. What will change, though, is that incomes will not increase this year as fast as past years and it will also become more difficult for the 250,000 young people leaving school each year to find their first job. What also will be different is that with no growth in aggregate, there will be a proportion of those with a livelihood at the end of the year worse than at the beginning.

Indonesia: Women in Nias have entrepreneurial spirit

Nia Sarinastiti's picture

Women entrepreneurs in Nias, Indonesia, describe how they manage community loans and expand business ventures.
In the many trips I've taken with the World Bank’s Indonesia Country Director, Joachim von Amsberg, I've always admired how indigenous locals interact with expatriates. I think from the curiosity of whether an expatriate really would like to engage with them and understand their needs, you can actually see the sparkle in their eyes to pose many questions.

In our visit to Hiliweto village of Gido district of Nias, the mission team visited the home of one of the women's group leaders to chat with informal women entrepreneurs on how they manage their community loans and expand their business ventures. At first, the group was reluctant to even answer a question, but Joachim broke the ice by agreeing to have the women ask about him – for example, where he comes from, married or not, children, etc. As the discussion went into a more relaxed mode, we asked what specific program benefits them the most. They all hailed microfinancing. Getting small loans is a common problem in Indonesia because credit is difficult to obtain from banks without having any collateral as a guarantee.

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