Taylor Whitfield

Growing up in Silicon Valley, Taylor has engendered the entrepreneurial spirit since starting her own business at the age of eight, thanks to a $50 loan from her dad. Although she ended up breaking even, the experience of marketing her product developed her leadership skills and interest in helping individuals realize their potential. In college, she studied abroad in Ghana, where she also volunteered at an NGO for street girls. There she befriended a widowed woman with two kids and no home. Taylor decided to mobilize family and friends to fundraise $11,500 and build a house for them. While it was an incredible gift, Taylor soon learned it was not a long-term solution and began searching for more empowering ways to contribute. Traveling to places like Colombia, Ethiopia and Turkey left her with a passion for other cultures, yet she saw there was much to be done from home in San Francisco. Working at the Department of Public Health and a local free clinic the past two years, she was frustrated by the disparities in access to healthcare. She is now committed to building a career that addresses the underlying cause—poverty—and believes Kiva is the perfect place to start.

Fellows Blog Posts by Taylor Whitfield

Dec 11, 2013 KE Kenya

Moses Ojwang grew up in Kibera and experienced firsthand the need to develop leadership and catalyze change among the slum’s youth. In 2008, he made improving his community a full-time career by joining Carolina for Kibera (CFK), an NGO partnered with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Kiva Zip. CFK works to expand opportunity for all residents in Kibera, and more specifically, to help them become economically independent. 

The organization offers three comprehensive categories of service to the community: (1) a free to low-cost health...

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Nov 27, 2013 KE Kenya

Last month, Kiva Zip Kenya proudly hosted the inaugural meeting of our Trustee Advisory board. Six top trustees are now taking on leadership roles as board members, creating more cohesion between key players in the program and helping guide its future.  

The board will provide feedback on product changes and participate in decision-making on topics such as communication practices, borrower-trustees, and trainings. Together with Kiva Staff, they will meet monthly to discuss best practices surrounding the Zip program and voice constructive ideas for...

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Nov 19, 2013 KE Kenya

According to UN Habitat, of the four million people who live in Nairobi, over 60% live in slums, 78% of which do not have running water in their homes. Many struggle to pay their rent of $10-35 per month and rarely have enough food to eat. Their children are very lucky if they are consistently able to attend school. For those in better conditions, this reality becomes all the more confronting when these people are your friends and relatives. 

So, when Davis Mkoji got a call in early 2012 inviting him to test out the newly-created Kiva Zip program, he...

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Nov 16, 2013 KE Kenya

How is Kiva Zip, a direct lending program based on the internet and mobile money transfers, working without the aid of micro-finance institutions on the ground? It begins with and is upheld by one important group of individuals: local community members we train to be trustees

As we near our two year anniversary and celebrate our climbing repayment rate, now at 92%, we would like to honor our top-performing partners through a series of Trustee Spotlight blogs. While much of the focus goes to borrowers, understandably as they are our target population, we’d... Continue Reading >>

Oct 9, 2013 KE Kenya

Man performing Muslim prayers while waiting for the terrorist siege to end
The media hype may be winding down but many of us here in Kenya are still shaken by the Westgate terrorist attack. While my own experience may not be as compelling as those in the news, it has left me with a deeper compassion for those who live in constant fear. 

Early afternoon Saturday, September 21st, I was sitting in a seminar at the Storymoja Literature Festival at the National Museum of...

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Aug 12, 2013 KE Kenya

It’s a warm Sunday afternoon and I’m hiking in a volcanic gorge just outside Hells Gate National Park in Naivasha. A slender Maasai man named Joe is guiding my friend and I up the steep, slippery walls of hardened lava. After climbing a steep cliff, we sit down at the top to take in a view of Kenya’s stunning Rift Valley. Joe asks us for how long we are visiting.

“I’m here for awhile,” I reply. “I’m working with a company that helps people get loans.”

Not surprisingly, Joe’s face lights up. He wants to know more. I explain the Kiva Zip model of trustees...

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