"Loans That Change Lives" & "Farmers First!"

Wrapping up my fellowship in Kenya has prompted me to reflect on what I’m finding most valuable about my time here.  Many experiences come to mind but the top two are: (1) being able to meet Kiva borrowers in the field and (2) being able to work closely with Kiva partners on the ground. 
 
We spend a lot of time here focusing on Kiva borrowers and Kiva lenders.  We highlight Kiva borrowers to show the life changing things they are doing with Kiva loans.  We also focus on Kiva lenders so they know they are appreciated and they feel a connection with the recipients of their loans.  What about those on the ground making all of this possible?
 
Today, I would like to spotlight the many people who work hard everyday to make these loans available.  These are people who exist between the Kiva borrowers and Kiva lenders.  They work behind the scenes to make all of this possible and I would like to thank them for their dedication and support. 
 
Here’s a look behind the scenes of a One Acre Fund loan on Kiva.  One Acre Fund pre-purchases seeds and fertilizer when prices are low and passes the cost savings to farmers. Throughout the planting and harvesting season, One Acre Fund also provides training and support to the farmers as they make payments back to One Acre Fund.  The organization then repays the Kiva loan on behalf of the farmers.  With support from One Acre Fund and loans from Kiva lenders, these farmers have a chance at a successful harvest, increased profits and improved lives. 
 
Behind The Scenes Of A One Acre Fund Loan!
 
In November of each year, One Acre Fund begins training additional field teams of about 30 “Kiva Field Agents” on the Kiva process.  This involves about a week of in-office training including how to explain Kiva to farmers, how best to take loan profile photos, how to conduct effective farmer interviews, and many other detail-oriented responsibilities.  After this, there is another week of training in the field where the new field agents can practice in actual farmer meetings. 
 
In December, the Kiva collection process is officially launched and the newly trained Kiva Field Agents disembark to five One Acre Fund districts throughout Kenya.  They attend hundreds of farmer meetings and collect information about thousands of One Acre Fund farmers to be posted onto the Kiva website. 
 
Introducing Kiva at a farmer meeting.

Showing farmers an example Kiva profile.

Conducting a farmer interview for Kiva profiles.

Taking photos for Kiva profiles.

 
At the end of each week, all of the collected Kiva materials are gathered from the field and returned to the One Acre Fund office.  Here, the materials are organized and passed to the Data Entry Team who works on uploading them to the Kiva website. 
 
 
Field Team Leaders gather in the office on Saturdays to organize that week's collected materials from the field.

Thanks George, Solomon, Calvin, and Silvia!

All cameras and photos are also collected from the field on Saturdays and checked for quality.

Thanks David! David also trained the entire Kiva field team at One Acre Fund -- This is a success because of him!

Data Entry Team working hard to upload loans to the Kiva site.

Data Entry Team entering farmer information to our internal systems. Thanks Samora, Everlyne, Brian, and Edwin!

The Uploading Team uploads farmer information and photos to the Kiva website. Thanks Olive and Mercy!

The Publishing Team reviews loan profiles and publishes them to the external Kiva site. Thanks Mary and Virginia!

Back Check Team calling farmers to verify information and ensure they understand Kiva policies. Thanks Veronica and Mercy!
Entire team looking good in their OAF/Kiva t-shirts!

It is important to remember that Kiva is only a small portion of this team’s overall responsibilities.  Although, you would never know it given the attention and dedication the team gives to the Kiva project!  Other than the field team and the data entry team, additional support from other individuals is needed to ensure the project runs smoothly. 
 
The Print Team helps to print and organize hundreds of custom documents that go into the field each week. Thanks Moses and Job! Moses also designed the much coveted OAF/Kiva t-shirts!

Amongst other things, the IT team helps to monitor the internet bandwidth so Kiva operations doesn't slow everything else down. Everything for Kiva happens on a website and internet in rural Kenya is not always the most stable. Thanks Victor and Michael!
 
And finally, Rory, One Acre Fund’s Kiva Coordinator (and former Kiva Fellow!), is an essential player in connecting One Acre Fund farmers with Kiva lenders.  He is the one person at One Acre Fund who touches all parts of the Kiva project and it could not happen without him. 
 
Thanks Rory!

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with all of these teams throughout the past few months.  I cannot thank them enough for welcoming me to the team!  To the Kiva teams at One Acre Fund: THANK YOU for your dedication to the Kiva project!

Due to all this hard work, there will be about 500 new One Acre Fund loans representing thousands of farmers in Kenya posted to Kiva.  Check out the results here and make a loan to a One Acre Fund farmer today!  
 
One Acre Fund farmers receiving hybrid seed and fertilizer packages. (Photo Credit: One Acre Fund)


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Comments

Looking good, Rory! Great to see you keeping up the good work at OAF.

Hi Lucy, Great post!! I loved your photos. Your comments resonated with me so much. As a Kiva lender for many years, the focus was always on the borrowers and lenders. I have come to realize that it is the dedication and hard work of the Kiva partners which is the engine that drives the process. Thank you for capturing it so well. Good work on your Fellowship and Merry Christmas. Ron Beaton

Great post Lucy! Your comments resonated with my experience too. As a Kiva lender for many years the focus was always on the borrowers and lenders. I came to realize it is the heart, dedication and hard work of the Kiva partners which is the engine driving the process. Thanks for expressing it so well. Congratulations on a job well done. Have a Merry Chrsitmas. Ron Beaton

I Love a Kiva and the opportunity it gives me to help a woman on the other side of the world. Thank you

Looks great. Can we help Kiva and www.kivazip.org enhance kiva zip so that everyone can crowdfund everything responsibly? More at www.whymandesign.wordpress.com

Thank you for sharing. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. One Acre does amazing work. A tip of the hat to the entire team. :)

Thanks to the OAF team. One Acre Funds are among my favorite loans. Thanks for all the wonderful work you do making the Kiva loans available to us.

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What matters most to Lucy is largely shaped by a world that existed before her. In one lifetime, her family became self-made business owners, lost it all during the Cambodian Khmer Rouge reign, and survived abusive labor camps, poor living conditions, and near death starvation. She is the youngest of seven and the only one fortunate enough to be born in America (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where her daily stresses were not about survival. She considers herself very lucky and therefore have learned from her family’s past to see the intrinsic value in opportunities and community. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she moved to New York to work for Google in sales. A few years later, her career at Google brought her to China where she quickly developed an interest in developing countries and how innovative business models such as microfinancing and microwork sourcing can make an impact in the economy and the lives of the people there. She wants to join Kiva in pushing the limits of technology to make a difference in the world. By focusing on the human side of business, she believes she can give back to the world that has given so much to her and her family. She believes she can help promote global awareness, education, and self-sustainability to future world citizens and prevent things like the Khmer Rouge from ever happening again.