By Adam Kemmis Betty, KF9, Bolivia
Kiva’s website provides a wealth of statistics for curious lenders, but one unfortunate and disappointingly uncontroversial omission is the altitude at which the loan was disbursed. With the average borrower living at 4,150 m (13,615 ft) above sea level, I’d be willing to bet that Pro Mujer Bolivia would be a good place to start in any search for Kiva’s highest microloan (any challenges from Peru or Kyrgyzstan?).
A very silly competition indeed, I hear you say. How wrong you’d be: in Bolivia, height matters. In La Paz, for example, the altitude at which someone lives is a pretty sure indication of their wealth. The rich have largely vacated the downtown altogether, opting to move to suburbs down the hill where the air is warmer and considerably more breathable. Perched on top of the canyon is El Alto, one of the poorest cities in the Americas and where Pro Mujer was born. Despite being only a few hundred miles from the Equator, average temperatures year-round hover around 40°F, a chilly proposition when you consider that central heating and insulated housing are unaffordable luxuries for most.
For visitors to the city, height really matters, and not just because your toothpaste exits voluntary from its tube. Just ask the Brazilian football team: the five-time world champions limped home last weekend after suffering a 2-1 defeat to a jubilant and thoroughly acclimatised home side. After two weeks in La Paz as a Kiva Fellow at Pro Mujer, I still half-crawl into every meeting (which is inevitably on the top floor of the highest building in sight), gasping for air and water and marvelling at the relative composure of everyone else present. In fact, maybe looking for that highest loan isn’t such a good idea after all…
Bring up the average height of Kiva’s loans by clicking here to lend to a Pro Mujer borrower!