By Bryan Goldfinger, KF9 (Peru)
At the KF9 graduation ceremony, each newly appointed Fellow received a Thank You card signed by most of the Kiva staff. Many staff members included a simple message and their signature (keep in mind, each one had to write on 49 separate cards), several included a witty remark and one or two left longer messages possibly containing some parting advice for the field. Although I appreciated each message and signature equally, there was one that stuck out from the rest, not necessarily because of who wrote it, or because it was written in green ink and in all capital letters, or because it was near the top of the card directly in the center, but because it read simply, “GOOD LUCK, GUINEA PIG!!”
With the KF9 class, Kiva is piloting a new “roaming borrower verification fellow.” Those selected for this fellowship (myself and Adam Kemmis-Betty) will be roaming Peru and Bolivia, respectively, spending time with various microfinance institutions, visiting borrowers and verifying that what is posted on the website matches what is actually taking place in the field. We have been fairly warned that the process of borrower verification, although an interesting and often fun part of the job, can also be quite frustrating and tiring. I personally am ecstatic about the opportunity to meet many borrowers, see their businesses and get an informal tour of a large portion of Peru. I am certain I will spend much of my time in the field quite literally lost and I hope to be able to report back at the very least with some funny stories to keep everyone entertained.