Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Swahili, Microfinance & Roses
Hamjambo! How are y'all? We began the day with a lesson in Swahili with Mama Moshi, our incredible UGA professor who is native to Tanzania. We learned many different greetings, pronouns, and other vocabulary. The hotel staff were having a great time listening to us struggle as we kept repeating the Swahili forms of hello, I, you, he/she/it, etc. After awhile, Mama Moshi was content with our progress and we took a break to swim and practice our Swahili.
After our attempts to learn another language we then attempted to understand microfinance in Africa. Our program has done a great job of providing us with speakers that really explain about leadership and business perspectives in Africa. Our speaker today from the co-operative bank of Kilimanjaro took on the daunting task of speaking with us on their microfinance strategy. I won't bore y'all with all the details but I really did think it was quite interesting how they were paying out 3 percent, less than the inflation rate, but expecting up to 23 percent on loans. I of course appreciate interest rates as an accounting major, so I wanted to inform the rest of you!
Following a scrumptious lunch we went to a flower farm. This was so neat, we really got to see how flowers were cultivated. I know that as a boy I shouldn't have been as impressed with the roses, but they were pretty cool! Granted, the best part of this tour was standing in the cooling room since we have not even seen an AC unit since being here. I'm pretty sure I did not want to leave the room. I kept urging people to ask more questions while we were in there! However, without the bias towards the cold room, it was really neat to see such a prosperous business in Africa that exports its products all over Europe. Also, the morale of employees and the business structure they have built around them is truly something to be emulated.
All in all, it was a great day! We got to end it sitting by the pool relaxing, listening to Jimmy Buffett on our iPod speakers, and just talking with this great group of 13 people. Just another day in paradise!