It is certainly a good question. One that we should always keep in mind as we advance in our life paths. Answering it accordingly should be enough to further one’s mission, or at least to keep oneself well motivated when the horizon does not look that clear. That mission is unique for every one of us and for my case in particular, a unique one in the field of microfinance.
In this regard, my life goal has been undoubtedly enriched by this fellowship in Kenya and by this incredible organization called Kiva. As a matter of fact, one of the major reasons for saying this, It is because I deeply share belief with one of the most important values for Kiva. This couldn’t be something else but the value that promotes connection between people from every corner of the world.
This is an unquestionable milestone on Kiva’s success which has been continuously achieved thanks to a whole community investing on this endeavor. A community that has tremendously grown over the course of 7 and a half years and I couldn’t elude better to this if it isn’t mentioning the recent achievement of hitting more than 1M borrowers
All these souls have been benefited from this shared dream and for making this connection a reality. Our borrowers are of course the main characters of this movie, but behind the scenes there are the fellows, the stuff and the generous lenders making everything possible. If you haven´t checked how this community interacts with the precision of a Swiss watch, I recommend you to check Kiva Live
I feel proud of myself for being part of this big family (we Latin-Americans love big families) and for having put my two cents on this literally, millionaire figure. However, without going further I feel that I have to go back to the beginning, where this dream started and I invite you to enact this story along with this post.
After a long absence of more than 5 years away from my home land, I was fiercefully determine in coming back and doing some positive impactful work in my country. I felt like after having the opportunity of receiving great education abroad I owned Colombia my return. The truth however, is that I had just came back from a long journey without a single idea of what I wanted to do with my future. Maybe I did have some ideas, perhaps I didn´t have the enough confidence to execute them.
I looked at the websites of several ngos instead, sent couple of emails and after one week, without even noticed I was working for COLFUTURO, Fundacion para el Futuro de Colombia. The name acted as a great teaser I have to say, however after two months I wanted to run away! Don´t get me wrong I am not writing this whole post to talk bad about my last job, I actually feel completely blessed for having had that opportunity because otherwise, I wouldn´t have had the chance of getting to know Kiva and also… my truly beauty Colombian girlfriend.
I was bearing the burden of heavy operational and tedious work and was this close to quit. However, I am of those who think that everything in life happens for a reason and you just have to gather yourself in serenity to understand why you are here. I gave it some time and decided to be patient (something that I still have to work out a lot), fortunately time went by and one day I found that my ngo had just signed a contract with this exotic named organization, Kiva.
6 long awaited months came to a happy end because I happened to be blessed with the new challenge called Kiva Field Partner Coordinator. I was ready to rock. The program was designed to support lower income students and marginalized groups with a brilliant academic future. Kiva loans were to be funneled into COLFUTURO to help finance often prohibitively expensive application costs. These included exam and application fees, document translation fees, visa expenses and transportation expenses to major cities for interviews and exams. All this sounded great but as an average Colombian I had no clue about microfinance, not to say about the world of crowd funding.
Furthermore, this project was totally aside from the main activity COLFUTURO had and therefore, all the infrastructure for the Kiva loans had to be created. It was a true challenge but luckily I was not alone. An inspiring Kiva Fellow – Kiyomi Beach, travelled south to help us and that is how I got to know these crazy and adventurous people called Kiva Fellows. It was exciting, we worked hand by hand crafting the whole project, from the design of the MIS to marketing, legal procedures, loan writing and the Field Partner Manual. Her entrepreneurial spirit played such an important role on guiding us through the right path. She as a Kiva fellow was a great example of devotion and serving others in need.
When the first batch of students was posted on Kiva, we were very skeptical for what the reaction of the lenders could have been. We knew we were competing against profiles of borrowers that are more likely to gain empathy from the lender community and that was our first hurdle on the project. However the quality of the stories propelled amazing fundraising rates (loans were about 1000 US and the average fundraising speed was 3.5 hours).
Frankly, I have to give all the credit to these talented students since they were their own scriptwriters of their lives. I define them as truly entrepreneurs since what they did was all about bringing catalyst change on the way people think and act in order to bring progress to their community and ultimately to humanity. The next months were filled with the wide smiles of many students that were completely grateful for the generosity of hundreds of lenders supporting their projects. A connection that united Colombia with the world and that will soon reap the benefits for our people.
Completely inspired by this connection and driven by an enormous curiosity for the world of microfinance I saw the opportunity of becoming a fellow, as a unique experience for learning while achieving a positive impact in the lives of more borrowers around the world.
After building a steady ground for this project and developed a structured path for keep supporting more and more students, I wanted to put all my effort into new challenges. An opportunity that came as a blessing to hone in my entrepreneurial thinking and untap my potential in this passionate and interconnected world.
All the love from Kenya, following the quest for a Global Village Bank.