Jul 19, 2014 KE Kenya

While working on Kiva Zip operations in Kenya, I engage with Trustees (the volunteer backbone of the Kiva Zip model) every day, hearing their stories, experiences, issues, and very often-getting humble invitations to visit their borrowers. These visits are one of my favorite parts of my fellowship. This is when I get to see the impact of the Kiva Zip model on the ground.
CentralBusinessDistrict
Recently, I got to visit Kone Mory who is from Côte d’Ivoire, a country in west Africa. Kone is a designer, tailor, father... Continue Reading >>


Jul 18, 2014 UG Uganda

My Kiva Fellowship recently led me on a 930km trip through Western Uganda, where I visited a variety of borrowers living in rural areas. Although the journey was long and full of dust, sweat and bumpy roads, there were also many laughs, delicious foods and wonderful people along the way. The purpose of this adventure was to meet with eight borrowers scattered around the countryside so that I could listen to their stories and verify that the information posted on Kiva was accurate. I’m pleased to report that the trip was successful on all counts! The most touching moment of each visit... Continue Reading >>


Jul 10, 2014 ZW Zimbabwe

It was 8 in the morning; I was sitting in front of a group of five staff members from MicroKing’s Gokwe branch, about to start my Kiva training. Gokwe is a small town in a rural area of Zimbabwe. It takes a four-hour bus ride and a two-hour car ride (or a Kombi ride - tiny local buses that lengthen the journey by another 2 hours), which may be why they have never had a Kiva Fellow visit before.

Until that day, I had visited three rather larg and mature branches, and had given refresher trainings to branch staff on the Kiva process. My goal was to reiterate the...

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Jul 8, 2014 GO Global Update

It has been just over three weeks since I started my fellowship with Kiva Zip. When I first applied to the program, I warned my family and friends that I would most likely be very “out of reach” for four months. Meaning that I would be working in a faraway place in a distant time zone- think Samoa, Togo, Bangladesh, or maybe even some country that I had barely heard of or knew very little about. It was much to my surprise after finding out I was accepted to be a Kiva Fellow that I was to be placed in Los Angeles working with Kiva Zip. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that as a...
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Jul 8, 2014 KE Kenya

Last week I travelled to Nakuru, a town to the northwest of Nairobi in Kenya's Rift Valley Province, about three hours away by matatu.  Matatus are the predominant mode of transport in Kenya and while they lack a few comforts - leg room, air conditioning, suspension, and any limit on the number of people that will attempt to fit inside one simultaneously - they have the benefits of being cheap, efficient and reliable, and handle Kenya's potholed roads reasonably well.  
Jackline and her clothing business in Keringet...
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Jul 3, 2014 KE Kenya

Sometimes it is better to share your challenges after they happened not while they are happening, so here it goes:

 

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Jul 2, 2014 KE Kenya

After completing Kiva Fellows Training in San Francisco, and moving my last few possessions into storage in Chicago, it was time to make the 8000 mile journey to Nairobi and start my fellowship!  With the exception of some visa troubles at the airport in Chicago, the journey went relatively simply and smoothly; I passed the time pretty effectively with a combination of in-flight movies, coffee and snacks in Amsterdam en route, and reading my new book on my new Kindle.  The book, The International Bank of Bob, was written by a Kiva-enthusiast who travelled the world meeting... Continue Reading >>


Jul 1, 2014 KE Kenya

Kiva Zip is all about human connections. Three weeks in Nairobi and I am just amazed to witness the direct impact the Kiva Zip model is having on their borrowers and the strength of this bond of trustee-borrower-lender relationships.  This week, I met a Kiva Zip borrower, Esther.  She loves and is proud of her little shop “Facebook Cereal” in TOI market area of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Starting from ground zero twice in the last 10 years due to internal Kenya riots and personal medical turmoil, Esther said, “Kiva Zip came as a miracle in my life, when I had...

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Jun 30, 2014 BJ Benin

Over the past month, I have been working with Kiva partner Alidé in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. I recently visited Henriette, one of Alidé’s long-standing clients. Henriette started out selling beverages on the side of the road, eventually opening a small shop in her home. After her husband died, she needed to find a way to expand her business so that she could continue to support her two children and her adopted nephew.
Henriette showing us a portion of her stock.
Henriette first heard about Alidé from... Continue Reading >>


Jun 27, 2014 GH Ghana

When it comes to soccer, few countries can compare with the intensity and enthusiasm Ghanaians show for the sport.  When Ghana’s national team (the Black Stars) plays, everyone and I mean everyone is following the match and a contagious optimism permeates the air - no matter who the team is playing.    As one of Africa’s best known teams there is tremendous support all around the world for the Black Stars.  Ghanaians know the special place the Black Stars hold in world soccer and take a special pride in all things Black Star related.  And, as the World Cup is set to... Continue Reading >>


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