Kelly was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She received a BA in Global Economics and Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz, which included studying abroad at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain for one year, and a summer in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Kelly also received a Trans-Global Executive MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California. During the MBA program, Kelly became interested in corporate social responsibility, including the social and environmental benefits and impacts of an organization. Additionally, Kelly co-authored a business plan to promote her client’s sustainability principles across Zanzibar, East Africa in a way that resulted in certain social, cultural, and financial benefits to local communities at the base of the economic pyramid. Kelly has extensive experience in Latin America as an Amigos de las Americas volunteer working on community service projects and focusing on sustainable development while living in Honduras, Paraguay, and The Dominican Republic. Kelly is excited for this opportunity to serve as a Kiva Fellow and participate in collaborative economic development.

Fellows Blog Posts by Kelly Diggins

Oct 5, 2015 GT Guatemala

Around the majestic Lake Atitlán sits the small town know for its traditional weavings, San Juan La Laguna. I was graciously invited to learn about the weaving process from two borrowers who are part of the women’s cooperative Asociación Tz’utujil. Tz’utujil is the Mayan culture and language of those inhabitants who live around the lake. One Saturday morning, I took the 30-minute boat ride across the lake to see how this cooperative makes their weavings (scarves, table runners, shawls, bags, hammocks, etc.) from start to finish.
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Jul 23, 2015 GT Guatemala

Throughout my Kiva fellowship, I have met with a number of borrowers and have personally witnessed the impact that micro-loans have had in their lives whether it be growing their business, providing for their family, learning how to save money, or giving a borrower an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise. As with many of Kiva’s field partners, the impact is not only offering a source of economical development, but the complimentary services provided to the borrowers. FAPE (Foundation for the Assistance of Small Business) is one of these field partners.... Continue Reading >>


Jul 20, 2015 GT Guatemala

One of my favorite activities as a Kiva Fellow is meeting with borrowers. And, the borrowers are usually happy to have a visitor and proud to show their business. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting borrower Dianira, who makes cheese daily. With her loan, Dianira was able to purchase more milk because her business is growing by word of mouth. Three times per week she purchases 50 liters of milk and one bucket of whey. With each 50 liters of milk, Dianira is able to make approximately 26 pounds of cheese  – the most popular being mozzarella and pita.... Continue Reading >>


Jul 10, 2015 GT Guatemala

Mari Cruz is an energetic, friendly, and dynamic 41-year-old woman. About fifteen years ago, she decided to open her own restaurant and took out her first loan to purchase tables and chairs. One year later, Mari Cruz started her own tortillería – a tortilla bakery. Tortillas are served with every meal in Guatemala, so it was better for her restaurant when she had freshly made tortilla from her tortillería. Mari Cruz has continued to take out Kiva loans to grow and improve her businesses. Through her loans, Mari Cruz now has running water (she used to have to carry buckets of water to her... 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 4, 2015 CR Costa Rica

María Isabel has lived on her farm for fifteen years. Before that, she lived in the capital, San José. It was a hard life trying to earn a living when she didn’t complete school. But on her farm, María Isabel has been able to thrive.
Cows on the Range
María Isabel owns nine dairy cows and milks them every day. Then, twice a day she makes cheese and sour cream. María Isabel has many clients in her community because her products are fresh and less expensive than the stores in the area. She made sure that I tried her... Continue Reading >>


Apr 24, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Last Friday, I was invited to the community assembly in La Suiza, Costa Rica. This assembly takes place every two years to vote for the Credit Committee’s Board of Directors. A credit committee is similar to a village bank in that it is responsible for assessing and approving loan requests, disbursing loans to borrowers, collecting loan payments, documenting all credit requests and exchanges, and monitoring borrower progress.   When I walked into the community space, the President of the Committee, Doña Ethel called me over to sit next to her. Doña Ethel has been part of the Board of the... Continue Reading >>


Apr 7, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Daysi dreams of having her own restaurant. She pictures a comfortable place for families to come, enjoy, and eat. One day, she hopes to make her restaurant her sole source of income. 
Frying Plantain Chips
Daysi lives in an area where the paved streets are now rock, where many of the cement houses are now scrap metal, and where the garbage trucks seem to ignore the community. But within this neighborhood is Daysi’s house with an attached restaurant. On the way to visit Daysi, the loan officer and I got lost and... Continue Reading >>


Mar 24, 2015 CR Costa Rica

Every second Sunday in March, el Día de Boyero (Day of the Oxcart Driver) is celebrated in San Antonio de Escazú, Costa Rica. It’s a day when the townspeople flood into the streets to honor Costa Rican’s history of using oxcarts to transport crops throughout the country. 
San Antonio de Escazú, Costa Rica
Booths are set up to sell delicious local food and arts and crafts. The main attraction is the parade. It starts with music and young dancers, followed by the boyeros. About 100 boyeros... Continue Reading >>