Feeling the impact of Kiva’s work in Indonesia

Kiva loans are sent to 80 countries around the world, but for our 100+ employees in our US offices, sometimes our impact can feel distant from daily office life. Last week, one of our employees in our Bangkok, Thailand office shared an especially touching experience with the entire Kiva organization. It reminded all of us of the reasons we come to work every single day. We thought we’d share it with you, too. Mark McDonagh, our Asia Pacific Investment Manager, tells the following story about his visit with a Kiva borrower in Indonesia. 

Mark in a borrower's neighborhood.

“Today I met Herianah, who got a Kiva loan a few months ago to build a toilet and a septic tank for her home. The photo on her Kiva profile shows the 'before' picture and here you have the 'after', in a rather smashing blue & green color combo. 

Herianah's new toilet and septic tank in her home.

After showing her a printout of her Kiva profile, I asked her some questions about her family, business activities (she collects plastic waste for recycling) and what she likes about our Field Partner, BMI. My questions were fairly routine. When I asked what she was saving for, she said her children's education. 

Mark with a borrower, translator and one of BMI's board members.

I was about to move on to the next question when I noticed she had started to cry. She was clearly trying not to, but the emotion just took over. We all paused for a few breaths before Herianah managed to share a few more words in between the tears. 

She told us that one of her children has special needs and that she doesn't know what she would do without the support of BMI. It was hard for Herianah to put her exact feelings into words. It's hard for me too, but I guess we often focus on the services our Field Partners provide to their clients (be they financial or non-financial). However, sometimes folks just need to feel part of something, to be able to rely on people for advice when they don't know how to cope or to just have someone to laugh and cry with every now and then. 

BMI offers 18 different savings and loan products, delivers almost as many skills-based training programs and grants scholarships for education and spiritual programs - but it's the sense of belonging that they tirelessly seek to promote among their cooperative's members that they are most proud of. And so they should be!”

Mark’s experience demonstrates the real impact Kiva and its Field Partners are making in the world. We are so grateful for the tips and donations from lenders that keep the lights on at Kiva and enable our employees to make these meaningful visits to borrowers like Herianah. Click here to contribute to Kiva’s operations and click here to make a loan to someone like Herianah. 

About the author

Channing Fisher.

Channing first witnessed the ability of entrepreneurship to empower people while studying Spanish in Guatemala. Throughout college, she became interested in microfinance while working in business development in the Netherlands and studying the effects of tourism on Caribbean economies. After graduating from Principia College in 2018 with degrees in Political Science and Business, she began work for a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit and later found Kiva. She's passionate about communicating and sharing the work done at Kiva and elsewhere in the international development space.