Thursday, April 19, 2007

I've adopted an adorable Azeri

Arzu Aliyev is a cheerful market vendor in Agsu, Azerbaijan. He's a family man, with three kids and a wife. Arzu is on his way up in the world. Now, through the wonder of the internet, he owes me $25. is website that lets people in developing countries use their Paypal accounts or credit cards to lend money to banks overseas, which in turn make microcredit loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries who want to expand their businesses or start new ones.

In Arzu's case, he needs $600 to expand his stock. Using money I made writing for Stop Ahmadinejad, I loaned Azru $25. If everything goes well, I should get paid back in 12 to 16 months.

I've been interested in microcredit loans since I saw Mohammed Yunus, the Bangladeshi who popularized the concept, speak at Georgetown. They seem like a good way for small businesses to improve quality of life in poor countries.

Why did I choose Arzu? Two reasons. One, I couldn't find anyone in Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, or my beloved DR Congo. Two, I think Arzu looks like a badass who is also responsible with other peoples' money.

Kiva is new and the loans generally take a year to pay back, so there isn't much of a track record to go by, but microcredit loans are usually paid back and The New York Times trusts it.

More updates on Arzu when I get them. If he stiffs me, his reputation will be besmirched for all time on the internet. If he gets an expanded product line, though, and pays me back everyone who reads about the Western Sahara will know who to buy from in Agsu.


  1. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Hi Will

    Very inerested idea
    most of Sahrawis dont know about it
    specially in the refugees camps where they really need help like that of Mr Yunus

    I will try to put there a Saharawi woman of the refugee camp of Aiun. soon


  2. Anonymous12:17 PM

    أحكام قاسية في حق المعتقلين السياسيين الصحراويين بعد محاكمة جائرة

    أصدرت محكمة الاستئناف بمدينة العيون، اليوم ، الثلاثاء 17 نيسان 2007 ، أحكاما قاسية في حق ثلاثة من السجناء السياسيين الصحراويين ، و أرجأت محاكمة ستة آخرين.
    و هكذا أصدرت هذه المحكمة في حق السجناء السياسيين الصحراويين، السيد الوالي أميدان، والسيد بشري بن الطالب، حكما بالسجن خمس سنوات، في حين حكمت على السيد يحضيه التروزي بسنة ونصف.
    و في نفس الإطار، أرجأت محكمة الاستئناف محاكمة ستة آخرين من السجناء السياسيين الصحراويين، إلى غاية 15 أيار / مايو 2007. و يتعلق الأمر بكل من السيد محمد سالم بهاها، السيد محمد مولود الحجاج، السيد ديدا عبد السلام، السيد عمار بليزيد، السيد الشيخ بن علال و السيد زوغام غالي، الذين سبق أن صدر في حقهم حكم بالسجن ثلاث سنوات من طرف محكمة الاستئناف في 20 آذار 2007.
    و قد شهدت المحكمة تطويقا مكثفا لرجال الأمن المغربي كما تعرض عدد من المواطنين الصحراويين الذين جاؤوا لحضور المحاكمة، للسب و الشتم و تم منعهم من ولوج قاعة الجلسات.

  3. Yeah, Desertman, I think microcredit is a great idea for Sahrawis. I'm not sure how it would work in the camps because I'm not familiar with how the refugee economy works is different from a regular economy. Also, I hear that Polisario discourages private businesses because they don't want the UN to revoke refugee status if they become too settled.

    Commenter 2: Unfortunately, I'm not that good at Arabic. Can someone translate?

  4. Anonymous12:19 PM

    I have been informed that some kinds of these micro credits already exist there but only official initiatives not privates…
    Yes. you are right the Polisario Officials there are under high pressure from UN. But in other hands as Polisario said the food stores are empty and UN give only the important commodities for 50% of population so how they can live …and they are right

    Also some countries who support Morocco like France are putting pressure on Humanitarian Aid Agencies and NGOs not to help saharawis…. All know why this happen

    Just Today. UN WFP declared that he will give 1mln Euro to Saharawi Refugees. Like in all Africa …You know Only about 1 /3 of this sum will be in the hands of the Refugees. The most of the money will be spent “wasted” by the high officials or “ in the road “ to these who really need it
    But this is global problem …


    PS. in Arabic above talking about the last developments on human rights violence in WS during a court in AlAiun .He/She said injustice sentences against Saharawi activists ( he named them). may he is witness