Sep 2, 2014 SL Sierra Leone
By Claire Markham
Ebola Crisis Affecting Kiva's West African Field Partners
Freetown, Sierra Leone


More than 3,000 cases and 1,550 deaths have been reported so far in the Ebola outbreak devastating West Africa. Two countries where Kiva works, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are among the hardest hit and have both declared a national state of emergency.
 
In addition to the devastating loss of life in affected communities, the epidemic is having a serious negative impact on local economies. Schools, markets, banks, and stores have been closed, and local travel has been greatly reduced.  Many of Kiva’s partners in the region have been affected, with safety concerns greatly restricting the ability of loan officers and clients to carry out their work.
 
We have reached out to our partners affected by this crisis to discuss with them the option of rescheduling some or all of their borrowers' repayments. For partners still collecting repayments in less affected areas, Kiva will continue to pass those repayments on to lenders. We trust in our Field Partners to know best which of their borrowers may need a grace period on repayment or a forgiveness on debt, and we have encouraged them to identify those borrowers in need of this type of intervention.
 
Because the risk of default and delinquency rests with Kiva lenders, our partners are able to accept potential losses on Kiva loans during such a crisis without putting their institution, and thus their other present and future borrowers, at risk. For this, Kiva and all of our Field Partners operating in such difficult environments are very thankful.
 
We wanted to pass on to you what we’ve been hearing from some of those partner communications. Kiva Field Partners BRAC Sierra Leone and BRAC Liberia have suspended microfinance operations for at least a month. SMT in Sierra Leone is stopping disbursements for at least a month. Field Partner ARD, in Sierra Leone, has also stopped loan disbursements in the worst affected districts and is considering suspending all operations in these areas.
 
So far there are no reports of partner staff being infected, however Kiva has heard of at least a handful of clients who may have been infected and are quarantined.
 
Some of Kiva’s Field Partners have taken on new responsibilities during this crisis, including conducting education campaigns for clients. BRAC Sierra Leone, for example, is doing a lot to raise awareness through handing out posters and information about Ebola in public places, training community health workers, and hosted a street theatre performance. All partners are giving branch offices hygiene kits for staff and visitors
 
“We actually don't know the level of impact this is eventually going to have on the business and the economy as a whole,” SMT wrote to Kiva. “We hope and pray that the epidemic comes to an end.”
 
Kiva thanks all our lenders for your support during this time, and our thoughts are with our Field Partners as they work to support their clients the best they can through this crisis. 

Comments

Thank you for the update. Please keep us posted as things develop, and pass along some Kiva Love from all of us.

Well done, i've got some loans in sierra leone and glad to hear you're doing this

Thanks for letting us know. I've been thinking about the borrowers and Field Partners in those countries, and hoping so much that they will get through this--but I'm sure we all hope that for everyone there.

Thank you for the information. I am all in favour of outstanding loans being deferred or forgiven if the field partner and or their clients are impacted directly or indirectly by the changing conditions around them. Please keep us updated and let us know if Kiva or a Kiva partner sets up a relief fund that Kiva feels is trustworthy and can deliver.

I support this comment 100%!!Couldn't say it better.......let us know if Kiva sets up a relief fund!!

So sad to see what is happening in Africa. I too completely support forbearance on loan repayments.

I'm so heart-filled by your response to this crisis and loan repayment. Now is not the time to be worrying about repaying a loan knowing full well you may not survive. Bless these people, Bless Kiva and all your lenders. This is what "community" is all about.

Oh my gosh, I feel like the least thing to worry about is them paying back the money at this point, they should be just concerned about staying safe and trying to keep everyone as healthy as they can! Sending prayers and good thoughts to those in danger of this terrible illness!

Thank you for the information. I am all in favour of my outstanding loans being deferred or forgiven if the field partner and or their clients are impacted directly or indirectly by the changing conditions around them. Thank You, Sister Lani

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I, too, am in favor of outstanding loans being deferred or forgiven if the field partner and or their clients are impacted directly or indirectly by the changing conditions around them. Sending prayers, hoping this comes to an end soon. Thank you for updating.

Very sad to see the news about the field partners dying from Ebola. Happy to defer and forgive loans if those people and families are affected. Also happy to support education and training on health issues. Thoughts are with the many field partners and their families.

Rest in Peace, Yayah (my loanee from Sierra Leone)

I certainly don't want to subject my loanees to any extra hardships, especially if they are suffering from this illness. I'm very happy to defer or forgive their loans in light of this crisis - I only hope they are still okay.

I have recently been informed of successful treatment of 500+ Ebola patients using Colloidal Silver based on nanotechnology, e.g., Silver Sol, American Biotech Labs (approx. 10 ppm 2-4 x daily). I would be interested in using my Kiavash donations for the purchase of this over the counter treatment. Please earmark the lending request to broaden understanding and usage of this product. May our friends in Sierra Leone start to see more widespread relief.

I just noticed that Google is matching donations to fight ebola. For example, if you donate $5, then Google will kick in $10. So that turns your $5 into $15... worth spreading the news! See the main google search page (if you haven't yet donated) or here https://onetoday.google.com/fightebola

Thank you for the update. Agree with your course of action. God Bless all those affected directly and indirectly by Ebola.

Thank you for keeping us informed... Thoughts and continued prayers for all.

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As Portfolio Manager for Anglophone Africa, Claire is responsible for managing partnerships with existing Field Partners and growing Kiva’s presence in the region through due diligence on potential partners. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Claire began working at Kiva in 2012. Prior to joining Kiva, Claire worked as a Senior Associate with KPMG’s Global Infrastructure Advisory Group in Toronto where she advised public sector clients on infrastructure financing. She obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University, and she holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.  She discovered her love for African travel during her first trip to Tanzania in 2005 and has since then made it her mission to drink all the Stoney Tangawizi she can find.

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