My name is Megan Montgomery, and I am writing from Houston International Airport on my way out for five and a half months of adventures as a Kiva Fellow. I am in a unique position, as this is my second time to have the privilege of serving as a Kiva Fellow. I spent last summer working at Kiva Field partners Friendship Bridge and FAPE in Guatemala. I enjoyed the experience immensely, but felt there was still much to learn. Therefore, I head out once again to see microfinance in action, liaison between Kiva and partner MFIs, and hopefully help these MFIs learn more about Kiva and how best to maximize their partnerships.
This time I head to Nicaragua for two and a half months, followed by two and a half months in Costa Rica. In Nicaragua I will be working at a very, very small microfinance institution (MFI), ADEPHCA, located in the isolated Caribbean coastal city of Bluefields. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, second only to Haiti, and this part of the country is evidently as poor as it gets. Amidst the extreme poverty, there is cultural and ethnic diversity that contains rich and unique traditions, coupled with rampant discrimination and exclusion. I keep hearing that this part of the country is extremely different from the rest of Nicaragua, and Latin America in general, and I am very excited to learn more about the culture, the people, and ADEPHCA’s role there.
As I head out, I am somewhat overwhelmed by the anticipation of all the unknowns to come. I am most excited about getting to know the ins and outs of how ADEPHCA works. As I mentioned, this is a very small MFI, and my workplan from Kiva involves delving into everything from understanding the day-to-day operations, to discussing longer-term budgeting and strategic planning. It will be especially interesting to explore the role Kiva plays in such a small MFI and in a place where access to capital is so limited, yet so badly needed. ADEPHCA has limited resources and works in a part of the country that is quite remote and underserved. I look forward to seeing how Kiva loans are impacting the local communities.
Along with all the excitement, I must confess a few reservations. Quite frankly, I am most concerned about adjusting to the climate. It’s my understanding that Bluefields is hot and very sticky year-round, and I am somewhat dreading months of sweating. There are, of course, also the initial nerves related to catching all my flights, meeting up with my hosts, finding a place to live, etc, but that will naturally fall into place with a little persistence and a lot of patience. I suppose I’m also a little nervous, but also really excited, about the tasks before me. The Kiva Fellows Program is constantly evolving, and Kiva is increasingly utilizing fellows for new important and challenging tasks. This round of fellowships with entail projects such as operational cost analyses to help Kiva and MFIs better understand the real costs of partnering with Kiva, and a very exciting Flipvideo pilot project, among other initiatives. All fellows are being sent to the field with a handy Flipvideo in hand to collect video footage of interviews for journals, so lenders should look forward to getting an even better picture of the borrowers they are lending to.
I am thrilled to have this opportunity to learn more about microfinance, gain the additional perspective that comes from working with various field partners, and do what I can to promote Kiva’s mission. A big part of my job is to facilitate the connections that are so crucial to Kiva’s success. I am here to both represent and serve Kiva, ADEPHCA, the borrowers, and the lenders. I look forward to providing future updates on my work and welcome feedback from lenders regarding any specific topics of interest you would like to hear more about.
In the meantime, click here to see any currently fundraising loans for ADEPHCA and start lending!/>