From boardrooms to street kitchens

You will not find much about it in the Lonely Planet but Thanh Hóa, Vietnam, is where I will be spending the next few months as a Kiva Fellow.  Its dirt roads, paper-based systems and road-side street kitchens are a far cry from the corporate culture that I am familiar with, but I am excited to see what the next few months will hold.

Thanh Hóa is the fourth largest (by area) and second poorest province in Vietnam, with over 30% of the households considered poor. Kiva’s field partner here, the Fund for Thanh Hóa Poor Women, has been in operation for over 10 years and continues to grow in size and influence, opening a new branch just this past November in the Hậu Lộc district.

Although I have only been here for a few (linguistically challenged) days, we have hit the ground running and I am trying to ramp up as quickly as I can.  (Easier said than done when there isn’t a wikipedia page on hand.)   What I have found so far is a great passion for change and a general consensus that with the strong work ethic ingrained in its people, Vietnam’s economy will grow. The only question is how quickly and at what cost.

I will keep you posted on what I find, but in the meantime… Tôi cần thực hành tiếng Việt!

Note: In a future blog, Nathan, Kiva Fellow based in Hanoi, and I will be delving into the differences between microfinance in Hanoi and Thanh Hóa. Please leave us any specific questions you would like us to look into (e.g. how does the cost of living differ?) by leaving us comments. Cám ơn!


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