Erin Yamaoka

Hailing from Springfield, Illinois, Erin graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. After school, she pursued a career as a consultant in technology management in Chicago. Reading about the life of a Sudanese refugee in the book "What is the What" inspired her to volunteer at a Chicago refugee resettlement agency. The experience created both a desire to help people empower themselves through education and a thirst for learning about other cultures. That desire and thirst led to a nine month journey through South America where Erin had incredible experiences such as volunteering at an after school program in Peru and an orphanage in Bolivia. Working at a money services startup in Buenos Aires also gave her exposure to the lack of financial services available to the unbanked population in Argentina. Upon returning to the U.S., Erin became a lender and volunteer translator for Kiva. She is excited to pursue her passion for empowerment and sustainability with this fellowship. Erin is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as a Kiva Fellow in Kenya with Honey Care Africa and Evidence Action and further Kiva’s mission.

Fellows Blog Posts by Erin Yamaoka

Sep 25, 2014 GO Global Update

I have been in Kenya for almost 4 months now for my fellowship. Some of my time was spent in Nairobi, and some in western and rural parts of the country. Getting around by motorbike (“piki piki” or “boda boda”) is a way of life in Kenya. But I’ve never seen a female driver. Granted, it’s not an everyday occurrence in the western world either, but motorcycles in general are also not nearly so common. Arriving in Kisumu, I thought I’d give it a try. After moving into my apartment I stepped outside to head for a grocery store. I saw a man with a kind face starting up his boda and decided to... Continue Reading >>


Jul 24, 2014 GO Global Update

Traditionally Kenyan women have not been in the business of beekeeping. Beehives were historically kept very high in trees requiring the beekeeper to undertake a somewhat dangerous climb in order to service or retrieve the hive. Culturally, this was not considered an activity fit for Kenyan women. Now, with modern beekeeping techniques and tools, colonized hives can be managed from the ground. For the first half of my Kiva fellowship I was placed with Honey Care Africa, an organization that gives Kiva loans to farmers for beehives and apiary materials. I attended a Honey Care “Kiva meeting... Continue Reading >>