Jun 1, 2015

My main purpose as a Kiva Fellow in Yangon, Myanmar is to work with Proximity Designs, an award winning social enterprise and Kiva’s first partner in the country, as well as meet with many of their borrowers out in the field.  A pleasant by-product of the Fellowship is the ability to experience local culture, namely the cuisine!  Food can be a large part of any culture, but its importance is very apparent here.  The Burmese people take their meals seriously, which are served and eaten family style.  I also...

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May 31, 2015 LA Laos

The first TerraClear sales event of the day starts early so the director and I are on the road at 6:30 AM this Tuesday morning. The goal is to get to the sales event an hour early to help the sales team set up. The sales team arrives even earlier to go door to door and personally invite the village residents to join the clean water discussion taking place later.  The official village leader, or headman, is the point of contact for the whole village. The sales team generally contacts him the night before an event to ask about the clean water status of the village. If TerraClear water... Continue Reading >>

May 29, 2015 KE Kenya

Meeting borrowers may be the best part of being a Kiva Fellow. It's an incredibly enriching experience where we get to learn about the borrowers' lives; they all have businesses, homes, families, hopes, and dreams. Each of the dozens of farmers I met in Kenya had their own unique stories and here are a few of my favorites.
Benedate wants to help her neighbors improve their farms
Benedate is an entrepreneurial farmer with a variety of income streams to support her six children including maize, beans, sweet potatoes,... Continue Reading >>

May 26, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Have you ever wondered what it would be like for a lender to meet a borrower? Or a corporate partner to meet a field partner? I had the honor and privilege of being part of Kiva’s first-ever corporate trip to the field – Hewlett-Packard’s Matter to a Million Field Correspondent Trip. This was a three-day event consisting of visits to corporate partner HP’s Costa Rica office, to field partner Fundación Mujer’s office, and to borrowers’ homes. Throughout this trip, representatives from HP, Kiva, Fundación Mujer, and borrowers were all together - visiting, laughing, sharing stories, and...
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May 21, 2015 BO Bolivia

When you think of Kiva and microfinance in general, you might picture individual entrepreneurs improving their businesses or families accessing credit for pressing everyday needs. While these types of loans are very important, one of the things that sets Kiva apart from other microfinance organizations its dedication to supporting innovation to discover new, high impact loan products. In my fellowship with Kiva Partner CIDRE in Cochabamba, Bolivia I was lucky enough to see one such innovative loan in action.   Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and like many... Continue Reading >>

May 16, 2015 SB Solomon Islands

According to a World Bank press release published in 2014, the Solomon Islands has one of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world and some of the highest electricity prices. In rural areas, where most of the population lives, only about 6% of households are connected to the electricity grid (World Bank, 2014). I just spent the last four weeks of my Kiva Fellowship in the Solomon Islands working with Kiva’s field partner, South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), and observed this situation first-hand. As I accompanied SPBD’s field officers on their borrower visits, it was clear... Continue Reading >>

May 12, 2015 KE Kenya

Conducting Borrower Verifications is one of the main responsibilities for many Kiva Fellows. A BV is essentially an audit of a borrower to ensure that they're a real person using their Kiva loan for its stated purpose and to assess its impact on their life. Needless to say, there's quite a few adventures to be had while spending three weeks on the road to do twenty BVs in Western Kenya. The following is an entry from my personal journal recounting one particularly trying day on the road. May 4, 2015 Homa Bay, Kenya We had a plan for my last set of borrower verifications. It...
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May 12, 2015 SV El Salvador, GT Guatemala

Blanca with bakery in the background
As the CrediCampo staff and myself walked up to Blanca’s house, we were hit with the aroma of freshly baked bread and cookies. From the outside it looked like a normal Salvadoran home, but inside was a fully operating bakery with a very motherly and warm 61-year old woman at the helm. But life wasn’t always this sweet for Blanca. She had to forgo school as a youth and worked making tortillas in a rough area of the capital city for 30+ years to support her family. During the... Continue Reading >>

May 11, 2015 UG Uganda

 Meet Jane, a young mother whom I recently hired as a porter in Southwestern Uganda.  The duties of a porter in Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest are not unlike those of a Sherpa in the Himalayas, except instead of climbing mountains, they are tracking jungle animals.   Jane and I had a long and arduous day ahead as we set out with a team to pursue a family of Mountain Gorillas.  The goal was to find the gorilla family in its natural environment, purely for the joy and privilege of being in their midst.
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May 5, 2015 SB Solomon Islands

I love collecting seashells. Even if I don’t plan on looking for them, I rarely manage to walk along a beach without picking up a few pieces along the way. So when I arrived in the Solomon Islands and heard about “shell money”, I immediately wanted to learn more. When I subsequently found out that one of the Kiva borrowers in the Solomon Islands makes shell money, I knew I would have to try to meet her! Shell money is a traditional form of currency that was used in the Solomon Islands before bank notes were introduced. Some provinces still use shell money today, primarily for ceremonies,... Continue Reading >>