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As we approach the town of Kamenka (KAH-men-kuh) on a busy two-lane road, we pass dozens of trucks going the other way carrying fruits and vegetables. Some of these trucks are transporting produce to local and regional markets in surrounding cities like Zaporozhye, but there are larger refrigerated trucks that are traveling as far away as Kyiv and Moscow.

I’m traveling with Andre Barkov, the managing director of HOPE’s microfinance institution in Ukraine, and Natasha Kurilenko, the director of marketing for HOPE Ukraine. We are traveling to Kamenka to visit our local branch, witness the greenhouse economy that has developed, and understand the ways that HOPE Ukraine’s loans are providing a catalyst for economic development in the region.    Continue Reading…

January 13, 2012, 1:17 EST – Byumba, Rwanda

Our day started bright and early this morning. We met Jeffrey Lee, the CEO of Urwego Opportunity Bank, for breakfast. Urwego is one of the largest MFIs in the HOPE network, and under Jeffrey’s leadership it has managed to grow very quickly while keeping credit risk at reasonable levels. There are many best practices at Urwego that can be applied elsewhere in our network. Jeffrey and the entire Urwego staff live out their Christian faith every day while serving roughly 100,000 clients across Rwanda.

Following breakfast we went to Urwego’s offices for morning devotions. There was wonderful music and singing from the Urwego staff. Peter Greer, the president of HOPE International, was the guest speaker for the day’s devotions. Peter lived in Rwanda for three years, and is the only muzungu (affectionate term for “white guy”) I’ve come across in Rwanda who is fluent in Kinyarwanda, the local language. Peter and I are traveling together in Rwanda and will fly to the Republic of Congo tomorrow morning. Continue Reading…