Earning my title of Kiva Fellow
Hi guys, sorry I’ve been MIA for some time — I’ve been in San Francisco since Sunday earning my title of Kiva Fellow at the Kiva HQ. This week has been nothing short of intense. I’ve met the some fascinating people, including my fellow Kiva Fellow trainees, Kiva staff, and volunteers. I have learned SO much about how Kiva works, and I have so much left to learn. More than anything, these days have been incredibly eye-opening. Kiva is not as simple as many may think, it is a complex business model executed by a talented staff (close to 80 people), eager volunteers (hundreds of them), and all the Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) that partner with Kiva to disburse the loans on the ground.
Because the Kiva model is pretty complicated to explain here, I leave it up to Kiva to take you through the inner workings (for the simplified and long version click here). I am impressed with all the controls and systems that Kiva has in place to prevent/monitor fraud, protect all parties involved (borrowers, lenders and their partner MFIs), and innovate in the field of micro lending. Yes, I still have many questions and I am still not clear as to why some things work the way they do, but I have witnessed how Kiva works tirelessly to be transparent in everything they do. All while trying to come up with new ways to do what they do better.
I have also learned that I will have to simply roll with the punches once I am in El Salvador. I will be the first Kiva Fellow to ever be at Fundacion Campo, so I will have to implement and train the staff at Fundacion Campo on a ton of new procedures and reporting that Kiva requires of all of its partners. I may not be liked right away, I may not be able to get things done as quickly as I may like, I may feel lonely and homesick — but it’s all good. My job as a fellow is to make it work, and make sure I take Fundacion Campo from point A to point B on a number of items — all while having fun, of course!
I leave on Monday, and yes — I am overwhelmed. But I know I have my fellow Kiva Fellows, and Kiva staff to support me and keep me honest.
Fundraising update — I have reached 55% of my $5,000 goal. This goal includes airfare from the U.S., internal transportation, visa, internet and cell phone costs, basic needs – lodging, food, misc., for my entire 16 week* placement. Any travel I do outside of the confines of my fellowship will be covered by me, and all money I fundraise will go exclusively to the part of my experience that is for helping others. If I have any donor money left over after my service, I’ll donate it immediately to Kiva. There is one small asterisk. Due to tax constraints from Kiva, the donations can not be tax-deductible. This is because the Kiva Fellows have to fundraise on their own and separate from the Kiva umbrella.
I will be creating a “Donors” page soon, so stay tuned for that. If you’re interested in contributing to my Kiva Fellowship, you can read more about it here. You can use the “Donate” button on the left to donate through PayPal. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions.
Until the next post, probably from El Salvador!
*Since my very first post, And The Adventure Begins!, I have confirmed that my placement will last 4 months instead of 3.