Twenty borrowers, Three Camels, and Thirteen Kenny Rogers Songs: Borrower Verifications in Kenya by the Numbers

Rainbow seen from Matatu near Mwingi town

When you are looking at the Kiva website, you might occasionally wonder: “Is that a real person and are they really getting a loan for what they’re saying?” How does Kiva make sure their partners are doing what they claim to be doing?  They send out over-qualified but eager volunteers who ride hundreds of hours on public transportation, drink countless cups of tea, and meet a randomly chosen sample of the borrowers you see on  We’re called Kiva Fellows, and this activity is known as a Borrower Verification, or in Kiva lingo, a BV. 

Visiting with borrowers in Tala area

There are many excellent posts about BVs by other fellows:
Why is there a gringo in my house and is he leaving soon?
Pakistan: Remarkable Women in Remarkable Places
How do you know Maria in Peru is really buying a sewing machine?
And the prize for the scariest blog about BVs: The Bridge: Between Life and Dead
My storytelling abilities are a work in progress, but I do like to count.  I started a count when I began my BVs, and now that I’m almost done, I wanted to share them with you.

Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes

Another night, another hotel.

Borrower Verifications:
2 sets of 10 borrowers each, one set for Juhudi Kilimo and one set for KADET
Hours in the Field: 140
Hours on Public Transport (of the 140): 85.5
Days in the Field: 15
Missed Lunches: 15
Tea and bananas from a borrower: 5
Milk for tea came from borrower’s cow: 3
Matatus (minibus): 30
Buses: 7
Public Taxis: 7
Boda Bodas (motorcycle taxis): 22
Walks: 10
Taxis: 9
Flat Tires: 1
Switched matatus because of breakdown or not enough people to continue to destination: 3
Kenny Rogers Songs: 13 (one was Kenny and Dolly together)
Kenny Rogers Ringtones: 2
Camels on side of road: 3
Things stolen from me: 1 camera
Wonderful people I met: Too many to count

Borrower and his family in Mwingi. His youngest thought I was absolutely scary.

If you want to see more about matatus and bodabodas (and why I’m addicted to bodabodas), check out my other fellows blog here.
 By the way, Kiva Fellows are not compensated—we do this because we believe one way to improve the world is to provide someone the opportunity help themselves.  If you are as passionate as we are about helping others, please click here to make a loan and invite someone else to do so now.

About the author

Jada Tullos Anderson

Jada firmly believes the best way to help others is to allow them to help themselves. Growing up in the Texas Pineywoods with a family of hobby farmers and raising animals for 4-H gave Jada a love for agriculture and the environment. After graduating from Texas A&M, she worked for John Deere and then volunteered and worked with the Red Cross where she was privileged to help those affected by events like the 2001 terrorist attacks. Wanting to learn even more about the natural world, she worked as an environmental scientist and earned a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke, focusing on energy. She’s excited to work with a well-established group like KADET in Nairobi where she hopes to apply her analytical mind to finding efficiencies in their processes and explore local farming and off-grid energy. Jada is grateful to her husband, family and friends for their unending encouragement and enthusiasm.