Milepoint Celebrates Two Year Anniversary: Q&A with Team Leaders

In celebration of Milepoint’s two year anniversary as a Kiva lending team, we wanted to take a look back and highlight their vast achievements thus far. The Milepoint team was started on February 12, 2011 and has since grown to over 1,500 members. Brought together by their love of travel, Milepointers just surpassed $4.5 million in Kiva loans and are excited to continue their success and momentum into the future. We chatted with two of the team captains, Randy Petersen and Haung “Ho” Yu, as well as active team member Bob Kaplan, to get an update on where the team plans to go from here.

What are some of the highlights from the last 2 years, and how do you feel about the incredible accomplishments of the Milepoint team?

Randy: Almost too many to name but four certainly stand out: First, the "KivaDO" event we held in SFO last year. It was a first ever Kiva conference for a team in conjunction with the Kiva organization and the results and presentations by Kiva to our group were extraordinary. Secondly, the establishment of our Milepoint Kiva Mutual Fund. This general fund by our members has now made over 1,000 loans. Thirdly, we're very proud of our Kiva Fellow sponsorship with Devon last year. We covered flights, expenses and it was truly a team effort. We look forward to supporting more Kiva Fellows and lastly the achievement we did when we did a MoneyBomb last year and the whole team concentrated their lending efforts over a 48-hour period. During those 48 hours we lent just over $300K to Kiva.

Bob: The ongoing, almost continuous highlight is that being part of this team has been fun, and we almost always maintain a high level of enthusiasm. These traits have continued even as the team has grown, people have come and gone, goals have shifted, problems have cropped up, there have been differences of opinion, etc. Yet somehow we keep up our enthusiasm, enjoy our team's camaraderie and remember that fun and mutual support are essential building blocks for team building. Personally I'm grateful to be a part of this team, and amazed that I have done so while still never yet meeting even one of my fellow team members in person.

What are some of the team attributes (of leaders and members) that have made Milepoint so successful? How has the team evolved over the past 2 years?

Ho: The team is comprised of members who have traveled extensively and come to appreciate how fortunate we are to have those opportunities. Moreover, having experience and seen what we have in our travels, it is important for the team to help support the local people in many of the countries we have traveled to or wish to visit. Kiva offers that opportunity to these groups and individuals! In the first few months after forming, the team was relatively small, but very enthusiastic. From that starting point, the team has nurtured each others desire to help and desire for knowledge. Kiva has a devoted forum on with 184 threads with over 23,000 posts. We have tried to keep the forums lively with content, spirited debates, and ultimately, friendly banter that exemplify all strong community discussions. Throughout the team’s history, we have also offered up many fun and innovative challenges and contests to support the team and to say thank you. As we evolve, the team will continue to be a lively, welcoming group that supports the members’ desires for content on microfinance, to provide feedback to Kiva on issues that arise and play an active role in helping improve the interaction between Milepoint team members.

What is it about lending through Kiva that you enjoy?

Bob: Personally, I like to connect with people all over the world. Every time I make a loan, I take a moment to look at the borrowers' picture and connect with them heart to heart. It makes no difference that we will never meet. It's enough for me to know, in my heart, that we are connected that my few dollars are helping. And since I grow up as the son of a mortgage lender, Kiva lending allows me to nurture a seed that was planted decades ago watching my father and to bring it to new life in a new way that is very satisfying to my own history and purpose.

There are a number of fun challenges* being put on by the Milepointers this month surrounding the 2 year mark; what are you most excited about?

Ho: The group loan has been an amazing triumph – 117 members of the team have lent and credited to Milepoint [on a single loan.] Last year, we tried to set a record for most members from one team on one loan - that was an amazing accomplishment with 48 members – this group challenge kicked it up a notch! We still have much more to come this month, including a goal of passing $4.5M in total loans, a milestone we hope to pass before our birthday (Feb 12), the Kiva Captain’s loan match on that day and many prizes donated by our generous team.

*For a complete list of challenges, please visit the Milepoint forum.

What are some goals of the team going forward?

Randy: We are gunning for the five million dollar mark. We're at $4.5M right now so we know we can get there. We're also interested in helping other teams so we do take time out to support teams like Friends of Bob Harris, etc. We love our team but also in the spirit of things, love helping others including other teams on Kiva.

Ho: As time progresses and our membership grows, we hope to spread the enthusiasm to new members who join and ultimately provide them the tools to be informed and lend with confidence. Hopefully we can get the team together for other lending events like this month’s celebration as well as travel related events, like another Kiva Do. No one can predict what the future holds, but hopefully it will be a fun adventure!

Your team has seen a tremendous amount of growth and activity; how do you plan on keeping this momentum going and recruiting new members?

Ho: We have relied on word of mouth and postings on Milepoint to get people to join and this has been very successful as a tool to not only talk about travel, but also about Kiva and microfinance lending. Social media, especially our blogging members have also been very useful in recruiting new members en masse. Hopefully this will continue to bring in new members, who will come to Milepoint and participate in not only the Kiva forums, but also contribute to the ongoing travel discussions on Milepoint. Ultimately, its not just about getting new members to join, but welcoming them in and giving them the tools and information to lend!

To learn more about how the Milepoint team got started, please visit our past blog post.

About the author

Stephanie Bradley

Stephanie grew up in the Bay Area and moved to the Midwest for her first two years of undergraduate before transferring back to California to graduate from UC Davis, where she studied anthropology and English. During college, Stephanie spent a semester abroad, traveling to nine countries and fueling her desire to learn about other cultures. While in Davis, she worked and volunteered for a number of non-profit and philanthropic organizations, focusing in marketing and community engagement and development. She is excited to be back in the Bay Area and is looking forward to working for Kiva as the Online Lender Engagement Intern. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, taking her dogs to the beach, and catching up on Downton Abbey.