Go Backstage at Kiva: Volunteer to be a Team Leader for the Review and Translation Program!

This is a guest post by Gabriela Barbosa, a volunteer Team Leader for Kiva's Review and Translation Program.

If you're reading this, chances are you want to make a difference in the world by helping entrepreneurs change their lives with small loans. Since its founding in 2005, Kiva has enabled over 900,000 of us lenders to make loans to more than 1 million borrowers. But what many people don't know is that Kiva depends on an army of volunteers to make loans available for funding on the website. This is the Review and Translation Program (RTP).

Currently, RTP is made up of over 300 people who volunteer their time to translate, edit, and review thousands of loan profiles that are sent by Kiva's field partners each month. As English-, Spanish-, French-, Portuguese- and even Russian-speakers, these volunteers make sure that loan profiles can be read in English and are ready for posting on the Kiva website to be funded by lenders.

These volunteers are organized into 20 teams of translators and editors, which are led by volunteer Team Leaders. These Team Leaders help Kiva staff manage, motivate and communicate with this geographically diverse corps of volunteers. They come from the most diverse backgrounds and do it for a wide variety of reasons, but the one underlying motivation is to play a more active role in the fight against poverty.

Take a look at the Team Leader role here.

I've been a Team Leader for the Latino Linguists team, coordinating the translation of loans from Portuguese and Spanish to English, since September 2012. My background is in business management, and when I applied to be a Team Leader, I didn't really know what to expect. I was a lender, although not a very active one, and accidentally found out that Kiva was looking for volunteers (must have been luck, because I was atually looking for a volunteer position that I could do remotely). I had worked on and managed teams before, so I felt I could use and develop my skills in this role.

Me, Gabriela.

What made me go for it was definitely the prospect of working with such a diverse team of people. I find it amazing that I have team members in different time zones on four different continents, yet we are all continuously working toward the same goal on our own time. I think there is a big feeling of “community” at Kiva, which is actually what surprised me. With so many volunteers so spread out, it’s amazing how coordinated everything is and how much support you get from Kiva's staff and the other Team Leaders and team members. We also try to organize events in places where there are a few Kiva volunteers so we can meet in person and share what we love about Kiva.

Here’s what a few other Team Leaders had to say about the role:

Alex has led the Kivaliers, a team of editors, since September 2012
. Hailing from a background in finance and investment banking, he has been a lender for some time and started recommending all of his friends and family to visit the site. That's when he decided to get more involved with helping Kiva deliver on its mission. He checked online and found that the Team Leader position was taking applications. 

"Honestly, I thought it was a great opportunity and a great fit with my background in finance and interest in microfinance," Alex says. "The role allowed me to volunteer my time to a great cause, but was also flexibile with hours and geographical location. It really was a perfect fit with my life situation at the time, and still is."

Alex, Team Leader of the Kivaliers. 

He says the Team Leader experience has delivered much more than he could have expected.

"My team is full of amazing people who are so dedicated to the overall cause that it puts my contribution to shame," Alex says. "Interacting with team members and their unique interests, preferences and situations has been the most enjoyable part. The more I talk to them, the more I am inspired by them to do more myself."

Véronique has been the leader of the Baobab team of French to English translators since September 2009. She has a background in speech-language pathology, and she believes Kiva volunteers are motivated by many factors. For some, it's sharing their knowledge and experience for an altruistic purpose. For others, it's the empathy they can create with borrowers around the world after hearing their stories. Many also just like being part of a team.

Kiva translator extraordinaire Véronique

"What motivates me is that I now have the opportunity to offer more valuable services to people in need rather than just sending my own money," Véronique says. "I also like that I receive fast and thoughtful feedback on my efforts from dedicated Kiva staffers and other volunteers."

So, if you're interested in volunteering, non-profit work or microfinance and would like to do more for Kiva, this may be the right place for you!

Interested in volunteering as a Team Leader? 
We're currently taking applications for Team Leader candidates to support teams of up to 35 volunteer editors or translators! Applications are due May 31 and the volunteer commitment begins in August 2013. To learn more, visit our Volunteer Opportunities page.

About Guest Blogger Gabriela Barbosa:
Born in India, raised in Portugal and currently living in the U.K. after a stint in the Netherlands, Gabriela truly has a soft spot for multiculturalism and loves discovering new cultures. She has been a volunteer and a Team Leader at Kiva since August 2012. Her team, the Latino Linguists, is currently the only bilingual team in the Review and Translation Program looking after both Portuguese and Spanish loans. Gabriela graduated with an MSc in Business Administration from the Free University of Amsterdam (not actually free). When she is not Kiva-ing, she works in marketing for a non-profit organization in London and spends her time on crafty DIY projects, reading and exploring the amazing city of London.

About the author

Camille Ricketts

Camille brings her passion for storytelling to Kiva, where she helps create and curate online content. A longtime journalist, she started her career reporting on arts and culture for the Wall Street Journal in London and New York. In 2008, she joined San Francisco-based blog VentureBeat, writing about  green technology, policy and finance. Most recently, she worked in public relations for electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Outside of work, Camille volunteers as a web designer for maternal health nonprofit Saving Mothers. She holds a B.A. in women's history from Stanford University, where she also served as editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.