Stasi was born with travel in her genes. Her Japan-born mother and South Korean-born father (though both Russian by blood) chose to spend their honeymoon as nomads, wandering the globe for six months before settling down. She has always connected strongly to this sense of wanderlust and has committed time over the years to fueling her curiosity about the world. As a Global Studies major at UCLA, Stasi went on the Semester at Sea abroad program. It was through these travels throughout Southeast Asia and North Africa that she saw first-hand the significant economic and social disparities throughout the world. After graduating, she followed her pasison to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she worked with a local NGO to fight human rights abuses within the prison system in the Buenos Aires province. The impact of these experiences has driven her to promote sustainable change to improve lives in developing communities. This past September, she returned from London where she completed her master’s in international relations, focusing her dissertation research on microfinance and women's empowerment. Stasi is excited to serve as Kiva Fellow in India, facilitating lasting change for women and girls through microloans.

Fellows Blog Posts by Stasi Baranoff

Aug 6, 2013 US United States

Jonath Colon and his colleagues at the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber
The Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber is a non-profit organization that focuses economic advancement for the Latino and Hispanic community in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Based in Portland, the Chamber is one of the few that does actual technical assistance work: they offer one-to-one technical assistance for small business owners, host monthly luncheons for networking, conduct business seminars, offer and facilitate scholarships, and... Continue Reading >>

Jul 9, 2013 US United States

Last week I felt like a star. I had a gymnasium full of people who either knew me or had heard of me. I had a rockstar team of Kiva employees doing my bidding. And to top it all off, someone made me a cake.
Aracely, one of the first Borrowers in Oregon, made us this gorgeous cake!
Well, to be honest, someone made Kiva Zip a cake. Same same, right?   The last Thursday of June saw the official launch of Kiva Zip in Oregon! As the Fellow in Oregon for the summer, I spent the month or so leading up to the event... Continue Reading >>

Jul 2, 2013 US United States

Shaun Winter with his Hot Winter hot sauce
Portland, Oregon: where the dream of the 90s is still alive. Where you can put a bird on something and call it art. Where 20-somethings go to retire.   What’s funny about these stereotypes (thanks to Portlandia) is how very pervasive they have become in our every-day lingo. Friends in my immediate circle reference Portlandia more than any other show, not only because it’s funny, but because I think people really identify with it.   How many times have... Continue Reading >>

May 25, 2013 IN India

One day in Imphal, I found myself engaged in a lengthy discussion with one of my field partner's Cluster Heads. He was trying to explain to me his dedication to the organization, and why it has persisted as long as it has. He was eloquently describing to me the evidence he has gathered as proof that microfinance works.   Now, I thought I knew that microfinance works. After all, I had done research about microfinance during my graduate degree. If the books and papers say its so, it must be so!   What I’ve learned throughout my time here, though, is that... Continue Reading >>

Apr 4, 2013 IN India

If you can't beat 'em....
This past weekend I celebrated Holi for the first time. Holi is known the world around as the Festival of Color for the rainbow of powders that can be seen on every person who sets foot outside their homes during the holiday.   Leading up to Holi, I’ll admit I was pretty excited. It would be nice to see Imphal go a little crazy. I would ask my colleagues at WSDS what I should expect to see, imagining pure mayhem in a typically composed city (for India, anyway). Where could... Continue Reading >>

Mar 14, 2013 IN India

Ima Market is a noteworthy fixture in the city of Imphal. Located mere meters from Kangla Palace, the most noteworthy historical site in the city, it’s the hub of basically all commodity trade in Manipur. Walking or driving toward it is actually fairly difficult, as it attracts so many customers that the area surrounding it becomes congested at any time of day with rickshaws, autorickshaws, cars, mopeds, and pedestrians all competing for road space.   The marketplace is lauded as the largest all-women’s market in Asia. One article I found about the market actually claims it... Continue Reading >>

Feb 27, 2013 IN India

Last week I had the privilege of visiting Churachandpur, the second-largest city in the state of Manipur. Three borrower groups from the surrounding area were cycling out; that is, three groups were making their final repayments to WSDS and I was there to collect journal information for Kiva for the first time in India. It was a truly exciting, heartwarming, and awakening day for me, because it was a chance to see what these women have really been able to accomplish over the course of their six month loans.   So much of what we read and hear about the successes of microfinance can seem... Continue Reading >>

Feb 14, 2013 IN India

Yesterday I took my first trip to a branch office of WSDS to help the Loan Officers do interviews for borrower profiles. As my Kiva Coordinator and I left the city of Imphal in his mini station wagon, I watched the road turn from well-paved, to potholed, to dirt over the course of thirty minutes. I watched our terrain change from flat, dusty valley to lush green mountains, and I watched the buildings turn from crowded city dwellings to sparse shacks. While out in one of the villages, Andro, we stopped to visit one of the Kiva clients, who makes “wine.” Isn’t it interesting... Continue Reading >>