Around us mountains soared as we left San José at dawn. Certain that what I had been admiring all week were indeed the rugged ranges of Costa Rica, I snapped a few pics and dozed off.
A few hours later I woke up. It was now late morning, and getting hot. My colleague Steven turned to me and said, “Look where we are.”
I hope the brief clip above captures the utter expansiveness of the scenery. We were at the top. Instead of mountains soaring around us, valleys dove below us. We had entered the Talamanca Range that spans the Costa Rica – Panama border and is home to the tallest peaks of each country. The massive La Amistad International Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also found in this region.
Our destination was a small town in San Vito de Coto Brus that is home to approximately 3,000 indigenous Guaymi Costa Ricans. They speak two languages in addition to Spanish and rarely host visitors. Their economic activity consists overwhelmingly of farming, although a small textiles market also exists. The citizens there have access to credit through an ECC, but had not yet been introduced to Kiva.
It was pouring rain by the time Steven and I arrived at the communal building where we would give our presentation to the potential new Kiva borrowers. It didn’t take too long for us to break the ice.
The members of the ECC were excited about more than just a viable source of affordable credit. They were excited about having a borrower page complete with information, a photograph, and their own personal stories for thousands of people all over the world to see. They seemed hopeful – rightfully so, I think – that this publicity might help them gain access to better markets, more opportunities, and a better life for them and their families.
Immediately following the presentation, Steven went to work helping members of this ECC fill out the (very simple) paperwork necessary to apply for a Kiva loan.
In addition to information regarding the loan amount and repayment schedule, this paperwork consists of interviews detailing the intended use of the loan and a photograph of the entrepreneur. These materials are then turned into the borrower profiles featured on Kiva.org.
When it came time for us to part ways with our new Guaymi clients, the weather had
not changed a bit.
Until next time – lenders, browsers, friends, enemies – keep on keeping on. And while you’re at it, make a loan to an entrepreneur at Kiva.org. You won’t regret it.
John Murphy is a Kiva Fellow serving at EDESA in San José, Costa Rica. In his spare time there he enjoys mixing with locals and fellow travelers, cooking dinner with friends, and catching the latest flicks at the multiplaza (read: mall). At the time of this posting he is back in the field visiting another ECC, this one several hours north of San José.