Accion Ambassadors Blog

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From Eyelets to Empanadas: My Meeting with Dora

Last night, the skies opened up and doused Asunción with winter rain. It’s a brief reprieve from the staggering 90-degree plus days we’ve been having, but this morning, we’re back in the thick of it. As we drive, the sun’s heat intensifies through the windows, and scatters across my pale arms. My backpack bounces gently against my lap as the silver truck navigates the cobbled road. We swerve to the left to miss a large pothole that’s turning into a small lake because of the rain. I have no idea how much longer our journey will be, but I know what will be waiting for me at the end of it: my first client visit in the field.

JLW Post 4- Environment 1 JLW Post 4- Environment 2 Continue reading

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I shot a lion the other day

We saw a small pride just over a ridge on the receding bank of the Luangwa river. There were 3-4 adolescent males about 2 years old hanging about. Apparently they had just killed a hippo the day before, so they were pretty sluggish, playful, and enjoying the dying evening. It made the hunt even easier. Our chase vehicle pulled up just far enough for us to get a good look, but not so close as to alert the lions of our presence. I readied myself, looked down into the sight, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger. Continue reading

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Navigating the Slums of Mumbai


One of the first things you notice when arriving at Mumbai (after the popular auto-rickshaws) are the slums. These slums have become a huge part of the urban landscape, partly thanks to their size and ubiquity. In this blog, I want to share with you my experience visiting slums with Accion partner Swadhaar, and their close relationship with financial inclusion. Continue reading

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Helping Paraguay’s Poverty Stoplight Go Global

Last week I had the privilege to attend a workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz is located at an elevation of 3,600m above sea level and sits in a bowl surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. As it grew, the city of La Paz climbed the hills, resulting in varying elevations of 3,200 to 4,100m. Right after I arrived at the airport of El Alto, I was quickly blown away by the spectacular views over the city.

Picture 1

First view over the city

Born and raised in a country that is partly below sea level, I happily followed the three rules that, according to the locals, every visitor to La Paz should obey in order to prevent altitude sickness:

  1. “Camina lentito” (Walk slowly)
  2. “Come poquito” (Eat in moderation)
  3. “Duerme solito” (Sleep alone)

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¡Vamos al supermercado!

I feel at home in the grocery store: selecting grades of chocolate for brownies, finding the perfect chicken for roasting, or stumbling across office supplies on clearance. It’s a happy place for me! When I got to Asunción, I assumed I’d feel the same about the market here, but let me tell you: some things translate, and some things don’t.

The sweet scent of piña – pineapple – lingers the air in the produce section, and I’m distracted yet again. Labels are in a different language; I can only understand every other word. I find myself grateful for cognates, pictures, and clear packaging. As I walk around the store for the third time, I can hear the warm voices of my Spanish teachers from high school leading the class through vocabulary repetitions.

Me gusta el flan. I like the flan.
¿Dónde están las manzanas? Where are the apples?
Quiero comprar los huevos y las papas. I want to buy eggs and potatoes.
Necesitamos la carne, las cebollas, y los locotes verdes para el asado. We need meat, onions, and green peppers for the barbecue.

This is one of many supermarkets in the area.

This is one of many supermarkets in the area.

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Lessons from Colombia: Make the Client Feel Like Family

Don Marco’s wife sat us down at the wooden table in their living room as we waited for him to come in from the fields. When he walked in the door, he greeted us with his generous smile and excitedly motioned for us to sit down again. Don Marco, who has been working on this farm in Tabio since he was a young boy, graciously agreed to talk about his experiences as a microcredit client with Bancompartir. Continue reading

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Red, yellow or green? You decide.

Dear reader,

If you would have to rate yourself with respect to access to electricity, which of the colors below would you choose?Picture 1

  • Red: Your family does not have access to electricity
  • Yellow: Your family has access to electricity but it is clandestine and/or not constant
  • Green: Your family has permanent and non-clandestine access to electricity

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