Since late August 2011, I’ve had the esteemed privilege to be a Kiva Fellow placed in San Miguel, El Salvador, with a brand new Kiva partner called Fundacion Campo. If you’re not familiar with Kiva.org, Kiva is a leader in peer-to-peer based lending, part of the overall microfinance wheel. Why does Kiva have Fellows? Kiva Fellows are a crucial part of Kiva. Kiva Fellows are the only ones on the “ground” with the Kiva field partners and our workplans entail borrower verification, ensuring there is no fraudulent activity, training loan officers on meeting Borrowers and posting new profiles and journal entries, and being representatives of Kiva. It’s going to be hard work.
With over $230 million dollars in circulation in 60 countries around the world with more than 130 microfinance partners, Kiva needs its Fellows to make sure the in-country partnerships are as strong as possible and streamlined to make the most benefit from the relationship. It’s a highly competitive Fellowship, with the average age being around 28, and a broad range of professional experience. Fellows come from all walks of live. Each Fellow is required to spend 4 months in the field, many sign up for additional placements and so at any given time, there are about 25 – 30 Kiva Fellows in the field.
The fellowship is 100% unpaid and in order to make my work possible, I have created a budget that totals my costs to be a conservative $5000. This includes airfare from the U.S., internal transportation, visa, internet and cell phone costs, basic needs – lodging, food, misc., for my entire 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.
Kiva Fellows in the past have offered modest incentives for donors supporting their work, and taking a cue from them, I’d like to do the same:
1) All donors are added to my newsletter to be sent updates from while I’m in the field.
2) All donations $100 and up would receive a custom postcard from me once I’m in the field. Each with a different story and personalized to the recipient.
3) All donations, no matter the size, receives personalized acknowledgment email from me.
THANK YOU TO ALL MY DONORS!! Without your help, this fellowship would not be possible. I am still getting settled in El Salvador, and I’ll keep doing my best to keep you in the loop!
Thank you, thank you!!