Kiva encourages applicants with substantial cross-cultural immersion experience and backgrounds in business, finance, international development, and consulting to apply. That said, Kiva has accepted applicants with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences: MBAs, film-makers, professionals transitioning careers, lawyers, public policy researchers, consultants, financial planners, firefighters, engineers and former US soldiers are among the program alumni. Ages range from the minimum of 21 through 60+ years old.
I am not a US citizen - can I be a fellow?
Absolutely! Kiva Fellows must, however, speak fluent English.
I am 20 years old and will be 21 in a few months--can I be a fellow now?
Happy almost-birthday! We will be delighted to receive your application after your 21st birthday. We cannot accept fellows younger than 21.
What is the average age of a Kiva Fellow?
Approximately 29 years old. However, exceptional recent graduates in their early 20's, as well as retirees in their 60's, have found success in the program.
Is this a good way to gain my first immersion abroad experience?
The most successful Kiva Fellows have already spent significant time abroad when they begin their fellowships. Because this is a deep immersion experience, cultural comfort and adaptability are key to a fellow's positive experience. More prior experience abroad generally means that a fellow will have an easier time adjusting to cultural differences and diving right into the work.
Can I be a fellow with someone else?
We generally discourage applicants from applying with this type of restriction as we value flexibility in our applicants above all. We do not send multiple fellows to a single MFI, but at times we will send more than one fellow to one country. This is dependent upon many variables so we cannot know until after the application process is complete whether or not it will work out.
I want to bring my kids with me when I travel - can I be a fellow?
No. Our goal, always, is to strengthen our partnerships with the microfinance institutions with which we work. Kiva's MFI partners are on average small, growing organizations that would not be able to accommodate children in their office or while out in the field.
Can vegetarians be fellows?
Yes. But note that you may be living in countries where being "vegetarian" is a foreign concept or not well understood. We encourage you to research what other vegetarian travelers faced while in the countries where Kiva works.
What are the Kiva Fellows Program Requirements?
How long is the fellowship?
Kiva requires a minimum commitment of 16 weeks to participate in the program.
Can I go for fewer than 16 weeks?
Both Kiva and its partners invest significant resources to work with Kiva Fellows. As such, Kiva strongly favors applicants who are able to serve for at least 16 weeks. The program uses its discretion to determine whether applicants who are hoping to serve for shorter stays will be accepted.
Can I be a Kiva Fellow for a year?
Yes! Longer stays equip our Kiva Fellows with a deeper understanding of Kiva which enables them to add more value to the field partner with which they are placed. For longer fellowships, you will likely be placed with more than one MFI during your tenure.
What if I decide I want to stay in the field for longer than 16 weeks?
Kiva Fellows in the field are invited to submit extension applications to apply for an additional field placement. If accepted, the fellow will receive an additional placement to begin once the first 16-week placement is completed. While acceptance of the extension application is not guaranteed, Kiva sees the value in longer-term fellows and appreciates that more time spent in the field can lead to greater success for a Kiva Fellow.
I am traveling in a country with a Kiva MFI for 2 weeks - can I be a fellow?
The Kiva Fellows Program requires a minimum 16-week commitment. The program's focus is to develop solid relationships between the Kiva Fellows and the microfinance institutions. Shorter periods are not sufficient for a Kiva Fellow to establish a beneficial working relationship.
I am going to be in a country doing a research project, can I be a Kiva Fellow?
This depends upon the nature of the research project. Please keep in mind that the Kiva Fellows Program has requirements of the participants with a specific workplan created for each fellow. It is difficult to combine the program with an ongoing project because of the time commitment required of Kiva Fellows (40+ hours/week). Please describe your specific circumstances in your application.
The Application Process
Where can I find the application?
The application to the Kiva Fellowship is available online on the Kiva website.
When can I apply?
We accept applications 3-6 months before the training for which you are applying. For more details, visit the program calendar.
What if I'm having trouble accessing my draft application?
If you are having a technical problem with the application, please email the KFP Team at email@example.com.
What happens after I have submitted my application?
Successful applicants undergo two rounds of interviews and will be asked to submit supplementary materials. To view the timeline for when these steps occur and details on what they entail, visit the application calendar.
I submitted my application; when will I hear from Kiva?
You will hear from Kiva with regards to the status of your application approximately 3.5 to 4 months before the training for which you applied.
Can I apply a year in advance of the training class for which I'd like to be considered?
While we appreciate your desire to plan in advance, applicants may not apply more than 6 months before their desired training class.
Can I interview in person?
No. Our interviewers are located all over the world. In order to keep a level playing field, all interviews will be conducted via Skype call.
Can I talk to someone about the Kiva Fellows Program?
What are the countries within which I can be placed?
Kiva currently has a presence in over 50 countries, within which Kiva has partnerships with over 120 microfinance institutions. An exhaustive list of Kiva countries and languages can be found here and an up-to-date list of Kiva's field partners is here.
What are Kiva's priorities in terms of placing fellows?
Our top priority is to ensure that we are fulfilling the needs of our field partners by sending them a Kiva Fellow with the right background and skills for the work they need completed.
Where can I go with the language I speak?
You can see a comprehensive list of Kiva languages and countries here.
Where can I go if I only speak English?
If you don't fluently speak a Kiva language, you will be expected to prepare for your service by studying the basics of your placement country's local language. To see the list of countries in which English-only could suffice, click here. These countries have English as a language of business, but your ability to connect with entrepreneurs in the field will be greatly enhanced by having a few key phrases to use in these interactions. In addition, you should prepare yourself to work frequently with an interpreter. You should budget for an independent interpreter so as not to impact the field partner's resources by utilizing their staff for this purpose.
Where can I learn more about Kiva's field partners?
Please visit the Field Partners page. Please also note that not all field partners require a Kiva Fellow at any given time. Some of the microfinance institution field partners have their own websites with more detailed information. You can also check out MFI profiles on the Mix Marketplace - www.mixmarket.org/.
Can I be a fellow in India or another country where Kiva does not have a field partner?
There are no opportunities for Kiva Fellowships in countries that are not currently represented by Kiva field partners.
Will there be time for me to travel and sightsee while I am abroad?
Your first priority as a Kiva Fellow is to fulfill your duties as described in your workplan. Kiva and its field partners have generally been flexible regarding short breaks for travel and sightseeing, given sufficient notice and reasonable duration.
Will I be able to meet other fellows while in the field?
It is likely that you will be the only Kiva Fellow in a given country. That being said, in the past Kiva Fellows have found opportunities to meet up with one another.
How is it different to be a fellow with a U.S. based field partner as opposed to a field partner elsewhere?
Kiva Fellows conduct the same tasks in the United States as elsewhere in the world. At this time, all placements in the United States require very strong Spanish skills. The largest differences for serving in the United States are cost of living and the nature of how microfinance is conducted.
If I live in the same city as one of Kiva's field partners, can I continue living and working here while being a fellow with Kiva?
There are several conditions upon which such an arrangement would be contingent. If you were accepted into the program, the field partner where you lived were in need of a fellow, and you possessed the skills necessary to provide the specific support they sought this could work out. If all of these conditions were met, we could possibly create a work schedule that allows you to fulfill your Kiva responsibilities and also to retain outside employment. Preference for these spots, however, will be given to those who can make a full-time commitment.
I'm going to be in a Kiva country, but I don't have the time or resources to contribute to an entire fellowship. What else can I do?
In order to serve as a Kiva Fellow, you must be able to commit to the minimum requirements of the program. Kiva's field partners contribute significant resources to support Kiva Fellows and as such must be able to turn that investment to a longer-term gain. There are currently no other ways to be involved with our field partners aside from the Kiva Fellows Program.
What Do Kiva Fellows Do?
What will my daily tasks be as a fellow?
Your daily tasks will vary depending on your assigned field partner. Some partners primarily need assistance in-office with processes, documentation, policy compliance, and so forth. Others will require more visits to the field to meet with borrowers and collect updates for the Kiva website. In any case, you will be making critical contributions to the Kiva-MFI partnership. All tasks will be geared towards sustainability such that improvements you put in place will persevere beyond the completion of your fellowship.
What are the job requirements of the fellowship?
The Kiva Fellowship is a full-time position. Fellows are required to complete the deliverables on their specific workplan in order to leave the Kiva-MFI partnership in a better position than when they arrived. You will streamline Kiva's field operations, enhance the work of other teams within Kiva, contribute to the Kiva Fellows blog, and improve the connections between borrowers, lenders, the MFI, and Kiva.
Will I get to meet microfinance clients as a Kiva Fellow?
While it is likely you will have the opportunity to meet microfinance institution clients, it is not a guarantee. Some partners have important needs within their head or branch offices that necessitate a fellow focusing their energy on in-office work as opposed to field visits.
Will I get to blog about my experiences?
The Kiva Fellows Blog will be an opportunity for you to share your experiences living and working abroad. You will be able to write about how encounters as a Kiva Fellow inspired you, moved you, made you laugh and made you think. Your contributions to the Kiva blog will be read by thousands in the Kiva community and will be great publicity for Kiva and your host MFI!
Who are my contacts at Kiva while in the field?
You will be supported by both the Kiva Fellows Program Team and a member of the Kiva Operations team based in the region in which you are working.
Can I contact the MFI directly?
Kiva will formally introduce you to the MFI after your placement becomes official.
Can I be an intern at the Kiva office instead of being a fellow?
Please review the volunteer listings section of this website for any openings. There is a separate application process for in-office volunteers.
Preparations, Health, & Safety
What should I do to prepare for being a fellow?
Research, read, and plan. Each Kiva Fellow is responsible for learning about the country/region where they will be living and the microfinance industry. Upon acceptance, Kiva will provide a list of recommended reading materials, but we expect you to proactively seek out information.
What are my housing options?
Kiva Fellows are responsible for finding their own housing in their host country. Previous Kiva Fellows have lived in homestays, rented their own private apartment, shared an apartment/house with others, or stayed in a hotel close to the MFI. Some Kiva Fellows arrange their lodging prior to leaving, while others find it more convenient to arrange these details once in-country.
Who pays for travel and medical insurance?
Each Kiva Fellow is provided with basic travel medical insurance through MEDEX. Supplementary coverage is available at the fellow's expense.
What kind of visa will I apply for?
The Kiva Fellows Program does not have the resources to advise fellows in the pursuit of visas. You will need to do research about the type of visa appropriate for your stay in the destination country. If required, Kiva can provide a letter of support.
What vaccinations will I need?
Vaccination requirements vary from country to country. In addition to completing basic research on this topic, you will need to contact your local travel clinic for more information on their recommendations for vaccinations.
What kind of technology will I be using in the field?
Kiva Fellows are required to take a laptop and digital camera with them. Since your host field partner may not have these items for your use, bringing your own reduces your use of their limited resources. You should include this in your budget or fundraising goals.
Is it safe to volunteer in a certain Kiva country?
This is a question you will need to answer for yourself. We encourage you to research extensively to determine whether you feel comfortable going to a particular country. Kiva will never send you somewhere you are not comfortable. We want this to be a great experience for you, the MFI and Kiva. If you get to the Placement Agreement stage of the application process, be sure to thoroughly research the countries you list as we will assume that any countries on the document are places where you would be comfortable.
Can I be a fellow in Afghanistan or Iraq?
If you have specific experience and a strong desire to work in a challenging location, we can discuss the possibility of a placement there.
What happens if there is a crisis while I'm in-country?
We require that all fellows register with their embassy. At a time of major crisis, your primary point of communication should be your embassy, as Kiva's and the MFI's ability to help you in such situations may be limited. The travel insurance that Kiva provides can also be of assistance in security situations or when evacuation is necessary.
Does Kiva provide funding for fellows?
Given Kiva's limited resources, Kiva Fellows must be able to fund the fellowship themselves.
What will my costs be as a fellow?
The total cost of the program varies depending on country assignment and your personal travel/lifestyle. You will need to research the cost of living and round-trip flights for the destination country. Also include possible costs for traveling to branch offices and visiting clients.
Is there a sample budget that I can follow?
For a four-month fellowship, you can plan on spending roughly $5,000 (for flight, food, lodging, incidentals, field visits, visas, etc.). Be sure to research your placement country to determine the specific cost of living there.
How have other Kiva Fellows fundraised for their trip?
Kiva Fellows have received funding from their universities, Rotary Clubs, grants, fundraising websites, family, friends, networks, and company sponsorships. Some Kiva Fellows have applied directly to airlines for assistance and received free flights. Get creative--fundraising for this opportunity is absolutely doable!
What grants do Kiva Fellows usually get?
Some Kiva Fellows get grants through their graduate school. Some schools have grants available for students about to enter graduate school, as well. A few participants have applied for Fulbright Scholarships to help fund their Kiva Fellowship. To find grants without university affiliation, you may have to do more research. For a monthly fee, you can sign up to have access to a comprehensive online database for individuals looking for funding from The Foundation Center. See gtionline.fdncenter.org/ for more information.
Can Kiva help me get a grant?
Unfortunately, we do not have the staffing to provide this kind of support. Each fellow is responsible for obtaining their own funding. Once accepted, we can write a letter on your behalf explaining your responsibilities as a Kiva Fellow.
Will the MFI pay for or arrange my accommodations while I am abroad?
Kiva Fellows are expected to pay for all of their expenses during their placement. They should account for these costs in their budget. Occasionally a few partners in our portfolio help with some of the costs, but this is rare and should not be expected.
What if I find midway through the application process that the fellowship will be unaffordable?
The sample budget due with your application should help you to anticipate the costs. Be sure to start fundraising early, and don't be intimidated by the task. Historically, friends and family are excited to support Kiva Fellows to enable this experience.
Can my company or organization sponsor me?
Yes, but the contribution will not be tax-deductible.
What is Kiva's EIN number (for donations)?
Kiva Fellows Training
What training is involved for Kiva Fellows?
There is a 5-day training at Kiva HQ in San Francisco for each class of fellows prior to their departure to the field. It covers Kiva's model, tools and resources you will need, and specifics of the deliverables you will be completing in the field. It will also give you a chance to meet your Kiva Fellow classmates, alumni of the program, and the Kiva staff. This training is required of all accepted Kiva Fellows.
Every session of the 5-day training is mandatory. If you will have to arrive late, leave early, or miss a session in the middle, you will not be eligible for a field placement.
Kiva Fellow Alumni
What opportunities are there for Kiva Fellow Alumni to stay involved with Kiva?
Kiva Fellow Alumni are highly valued members of the Kiva family and have many opportunities to stay involved with Kiva and the Fellows Program. Many alumni actively participate in the program by interviewing candidates and speaking with accepted applicants. Alumni are also encouraged to share their experiences with their home communities and attend events or speak on behalf of Kiva. All alumni will also receive a quarterly newsletter and be invited to attend Kiva and Alumni Recognition events.
Is there a Kiva Fellow Alumni network?
Yes! All successful participants in the program will be welcomed into our ever-expanding community of Kiva Fellow Alumni. With 350+ members, this dynamic network of global change-makers can be an incredibly rich source of friendships and professional connections. Alumni are encouraged to communicate with one another through our online LinkedIn group, as well as in-person at our regional events.
Can I get a full-time job working at Kiva after the fellowship?
We cannot guarantee that full-time positions will be made available to Kiva Fellows. Many current staff members at Kiva are Fellows Program Alumni, so your participation will certainly not hurt your chances!