Tamara Sanderson, KF8 Mongolia

During Kiva Fellows Training, Kiva Fellows Director JD Bergeron emphasized the word connect within Kiva’s mission statement: “to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.”   He said that without the connection factor, Kiva would not exist.

I mentally agreed with him at the time, but after reflecting on my first week in Mongolia, I am realizing the truth of JD’s statement.  Below, you can find a few examples.

Support from Strangers

After 22 hours, 3 flight segments and multiple checks for swine flu, I finally arrived in Ulaanbaatar from Dallas.  As an email junkie, I immediately turned on my blackberry after landing and started checking my emails while waiting in the immigration line.  While scrolling through, I noticed a lender message to one of my lending teams.  Eileen, a fellow Kiva lender with an interest in Mongolia, sent me a message wising me good luck during my Kiva Fellowship at XacBank and made a loan to my lending team.  Although I have never met Eileen in person, it was a very encouraging message to receive within my first steps on Mongolian soil.      

A Genuine Smile

XacBank posted its first loans on Kiva.org in January 2009 and recently started posting journal updates now that the borrowers are in the midst of their loan repayments.

Maggie, the super star Kiva coordinator, turned around to me on my second day at XacBank and asked why the Kiva Fellows made so many comments on the first set of journals she posted a little over a week ago.

I looked over her shoulder and saw over 80 lender messages from people around the world congratulating the entrepreneurs on their endeavors and thanking Maggie for her work.  I explained to her that the messages were not from Kiva Fellows, but rather from lenders on the Kiva website. 

She then looked at me with a genuine smile and said, “Wow, you mean all these people responded to journals?”

Throughout the week, Maggie has mentioned these lender comments with her colleagues, and we have started brainstorming ways to relay these messages. 

A Vision

Despite the fact that Kiva only makes up about 1% of XacBank’s microloan portfolio ($300 k out of $22M), XacBank has grand visions for the Kiva partnership, inclusive of an exponential curve of Kiva loan growth in Mongolia.

As I met with the CEO on Tuesday, his ideas reminded me of conversations I had with Kiva staff last fall while volunteering in the San Francisco office.  Although Ulaanbaatar and San Francisco are on opposite sides of the world, the same mission bridges the two together.  Largely, our conversation focused on connecting Mongolian borrowers and lenders to Kiva.org through media outlets and social development.

The dictionary defines connect as “to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind.”  Without the connection factor, Kiva is merely just a combination of tools: a website and finance.  But, by uniting people across the world for a common goal of alleviating poverty it becomes something much greater.  It becomes powerful.

Connect with Mongolian Entrepreneurs today – Lend

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