By Shereef Zaki, KF9, Perú
‘Connecting people through lending,’ precedes ‘alleviating poverty,’ in Kiva’s mission statement. I have come to believe that the goal might actually be of a higher as opposed to a simple aesthetic preference. I mean, maybe we could eradicate poverty individually, but with the concerted effort of a community it can be done more effectively. In a community one can share ideas, efforts, problems, solutions and risks.
And last week that is exactly what Kiva’s partner institutions in Latin America did. For the second year in a row, nearly all the MFIs who work with us in South America sent a representative to our Cumbre (summit, or in this context conference). For a full day we talked about new site features, challenges to the microfinance industry, new organizational efforts and new collective ideas.
A couple of weeks ago Suzy posted an entry about how devoted her host MFI, CIDRE, is to its clients. After having spent time with CIDRE representatives (she’s right they are totally inspirational) and the extended Kiva family, I want to add that nearly all of our partners adopt broader causes beyond the immediate scope of meeting client needs. And they demonstrate a staggering commitment to those causes. They really are the unsung heroes of Kiva’s model and mission, carrying the most arduous tasks on their shoulders. By loaning through Kiva, lenders are supporting their tremendously life-changing initiatives.
And speaking of unsung heroes, last week I also had the fortune of spending time with the Kiva staff that seek out and nurture those partnerships. Michelle who oversees partnerships in South America, Giovanna who oversees partnerships in Central and North America and Cynthia who is the field support specialist for South America are the three women responsible for planning the Cumbre and are the keepers of Kiva’s relationships in the field. Their intelligence, energy and conviction have ballasted Kiva’s success in Latin America — especially as they guide the fellows to complete their goals. So on behalf of the fellows in field who really appreciate your kindness and patience, thanks!
Shereef Zaki is serving as a Kiva Fellow working with the new field partner EDPYME Alternativa in Chiclayo, Perú
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