Kiva Fellows Program receives record number of applications for spring-summer term

With our 20th class of fellows currently in the field, the Kiva Fellows Program is well into reviewing applications for the next wave (dubbed KF21).

This next class happens to fall during the summer, giving graduate students the opportunity to gain invaluable field experience during their summer breaks. While the typical Kiva Fellow spends 16 weeks in the field, we also offer a small number of shorter-term fellowships during our summer class to accommodate these students. No doubt this has contributed to the all-time high in applications received -- up 36% from last class, and up 26% from the average of all the classes from the last year.

A look at the applicants

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see how diverse our applicant pool is. There's a huge range of qualified candidates interested in Kiva, microfinance and international development. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

The average age of our applicants (and this is also true of our most recent classes as well) is 29.  However, the average only tells part of the story. You may not expect a broad range of ages interested in the Fellows Program, but... Our oldest applicant? 64 years old. In fact, nearly 10% are aged 40 or older.  The majority of applicants, 69%, are in their 20s with a standard deviation of 7 years. 

With each Kiva Fellows class, we’re finding an an increasingly diverse applicant pool. Foreign citizens actually outnumbered U.S. applicants for KF21, making up nearly 60% of the total applications received. We’ve received applications from 37 different countries on six different continents, including the Philippines to Bangladesh, Pakistan to Portugal. It’s also interesting to note that KF21 applicants have collectively visited more than 125 unique countries. That’s two thirds of the globe!

The average KF21 applicant has six years of work experience and speaks two languages. Two-thirds have received or are pursuing graduate degrees in a number of fields, and many come from schools like Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, MIT and Princeton. A handful of schools ranked as our top represented institutions in the application pool this class -- including Columbia, Yale, Tufts, Georgetown, IE School of Business, Stanford and Berkeley.  The most common degrees are business administration, public administration, international  relations and international affairs. There are a few engineers and economists in the mix as well. 

We are always humbled by the caliber of people who want to be Kiva Fellows and volunteer their time and talents to support our mission of connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty.  We are truly excited about the expertise demonstrated by these applicants in their fields, and their significant dedication to volunteerism. We look forward to selecting our next class of fellows, and to seeing the good they’ll do in the world!

The 20th class of Kiva Fellows at Kiva HQ before heading out into the field.

About the Kiva Fellows Program

Kiva relies on uniquely talented individuals to keep our operations running in 65+ countries worldwide. Every four months, a class of 15-35 fellows venture out to work with our field partners in a wide variety of capacities. Some fellows work on launching new partnerships, some work on streamlining lending and repayment practices, some collect incredible photography and stories for our marketing team, the list goes on and on. There's no such thing as an average Kiva Fellowship, and there's no such thing as an average Kiva Fellow. For anyone interested in pursuing microfinance as a career, international business, global development, economics, civil engineering, and more -- this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain experience in the field with an organization that everyone knows.

Learn more about the Kiva Fellows Program here.

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About the author


After moving to Russia at the age of nineteen on a humanitarian aide mission, Blake spent years volunteering in impoverished cities, underfunded hospitals and orphanages and realized poverty in the developing world held great interest for him. After returning to the US to pursue a degree in Russian Linguistics from Brigham Young University, he began conducting research for FINCA International in central Asia, determining the economic impact of FINCA's programs in Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and central Russia. Seeing real change for the better in the lives of microfinance participants, he was hooked. Blake continues to explore his interests in the developing world while adjusting to his new found home in Sausalito. In his free time, he's usually in a movie theater, or writing about film for various online publications.