My colleague, Elin and I held back our emotions during a meeting with Dan Olga , a new Kiva Zip trustee. ‘What would you do if your children had not eaten food the night before and your husband had not sent money?’ Dan described how mothers would do anything for their children, even sleeping with a truck driver for 200 shillings ($2.30), so that they are able feed their children. Siaya, where Daniel is from and where he has started the Smart Center, is frequented by truck drivers on their way to Uganda and Rwanda. ...Continue Reading >>
Stories from Kenya
On my second day in Nairobi, I had dinner with family friends, during which a 9-year old boy jokingly told me not to forget my umbrella when traveling to Kibera. I looked at him confused and he said ‘flying toilets’. My roommates and I assumed ‘the flying toilet’ would be as enthralling as the name sounds. Simply put, it is a plastic bag used as a toilet which is then thrown on to the road.
About 10 million Kenyans live in slums, and this number is growing at a rate of 7% per year. About 80% of these residents lack adequate sanitation...Continue Reading >>
Exactly one month has passed since I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya. As a complete newbie in Africa, I had no idea what to expect when I first landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Before my arrival, I had done some research about the country that was going to be my home for the coming months. A quick google search on Nairobi informed me that Kenya’s capital is the 12th largest one in Africa, the name Nairobi is a Maasai phrase that translates to “cold water” and it’s located 1,800 meters above sea level. My internet search also informed me that...Continue Reading >>
Expanding Access to Higher Education in Kenya:
In January of 2012, Kiva, a microlending platform that aims to alleviate poverty by connecting lenders with borrowers who do not have access to traditional banking, partnered with Strathmore University, Kenya’s premier, private college, to launch a groundbreaking partnership in the financing...Continue Reading >>
Varick Schwartz | KF18 | Kenya
When I applied to the Kiva Fellows program, I knew I’d be spending some time ‘in...
“Work collectively, live individually”
- Tomáš Baťa, Founder of Bata Shoes
There’s a term I learned at Kiva training – “PIVOT”.
I think it’s a cool word. For me pivoting evokes digging in one foot, turning on the spot, and heading in a completely different direction.
In Kiva Fellows training it was used to refer to the change in direction that Kiva was undertaking – motivating their current partners and bringing on new...Continue Reading >>
One of the most effective ways of improving Kiva’s relationship with its partners is travelling to the branches and providing Kiva Training. Kiva training involves a refresher for the Credit Officers – the ones who make microfinance really work on the ground – about what Kiva is, how it works, why it’s important, what they need to do for a Kiva loan and finally – taking GREAT photos!
Now, I’m not a natural photographer, but as you can see from some...Continue Reading >>
My Fellowship workplan has been focused a little more on the technical side of things, with more application programming and appraisal analysis than borrower verifications. From such projects, and also because I come from a banking, lending and risk management background, it seems fitting to at least put forth some observations regarding the use of credit scores across the Kenya micro landscape. However, the way we approach credit scoring in the USA is almost opposite from current practices here, where aggregated financial data at the individual level could still be years away....Continue Reading >>
Sitting in the Virgin Atlantic flight to London after 10 weeks in the field, I knew of one thing with absolute certainty – Kenya will rightfully own a piece of me forever.
Never have I found myself in a new country, expecting it to change me. But Kenya surpassed all unreasonable expectations. Seeing such diversity of nature, living in local communities, soaking in the culture, meeting small people with big dreams… I transformed myself.
All because I followed a basic survival model I like to call -
The...Continue Reading >>
Visiting Kiva borrowers is always a special part of a Fellow’s experience. Fellows are the lucky ones who actually go out and meet the people that Kiva capital helps. In some cases we even get to meet the borrowers who we’ve lent money to directly – see Luan & Olivia’s terrific blog on True Connectedness!
As we ramp up Kiva Zip and assess our progress, we have had the additional pleasure of meeting the dynamic people and organizations that have been endorsed as trustees. These folks are from diverse backgrounds –...Continue Reading >>