Questions from the Field: Why Do We Lend, What’s a Kiva Fellowship + How does Microfinance Support Green & Agricultural Development?

Compiled by Kate Bennett, KF16, Peru

A borrower who took out microfinance loans to purchase a water tank and greenhouse. By Claire Markham, in Nairobi, Kenya

Last week’s stories from the field elucidate readers on a number of Kiva-questions, and pose a few questions of their own: what is a Wandering Kiva Fellow, and is a Kiva Fellowship right for you? How can microloans support a green or agriculturally sustainable economy? In a country bouncing back from a civil war, how can international aid and microfinance help (or hurt)? What social programs are our partners supporting across the world, and how can microfinance support HIV-postive microborrowers? And finally, a question we put to you lenders: How do You Lend?

To Kiva Fellow or not to Kiva Fellow. Eso e’ la pregunta.
By Robert Gradoville, KF16, Peru

Should I become a Kiva Fellow? How does it stack up against the Peace Corps, overseas research grants, overseas workshops on topics in development, Fulbright Fellowships, Rotary Scholarships, and service-learning trips? This post compares and contrasts “what it’s like” to be a Kiva Fellow to the myriad other programs out there.

Village Banks BY Farmers FOR Farmers: A Microcredit Labor of Love
By Julie Kerr, KF16, Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, a country with a strong commitment to ecological conservation, Julie introduces us to yet another innovation ensuring agriculture’s sustainability. Not only are FUDECOSUR village banks run by village farmers, as detailed in Bank-O-Mat Under a Hot Tin Roof, but they are also trained and managed by loan officers who are farmers themselves. To learn more about FUDECOSUR village banks, keep reading!

Multi-faceted Borrowers Part 1
By Abhinab Basnyat, KF16, Nepal

Abhinab introduces us to Nepalese Kiva borrowers Narayan Devi and Binu- their stories may seem like those of textbook microcredit borrowers, but their stories jump off of the page nonetheless.

The Wandering Fellow
By Eric Rindal, KF16, Bolivia

Eric wakes up under new sheets on a small bed in a small room amid warm and verdant Santa Cruz, Bolivia. After 30 frantic seconds he pieces together where he is, which brings us to the topic at hand: the varying freedoms and the challenges of that rare breed of Kiva Fellows: the Wandering Fellow.

The Double-Edged Sword: Sierra Leone’s Battle Against Poverty
By Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone

Aid: What does it mean for a country recovering from a devastating decade-long civil war that killed over 50,000 of its people? And what does it mean for microfinance organizations that aim to loosen the leash from dependency and push for sustainability? Tejal brings on on an okada ride through Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, and discusses the multifaceted role that international aid plays in the fight against poverty.

How do You Lend?
By Kate Bennett, KF16, Peru

The most challenging part of trainings for we Kiva Fellows is not instructing loan officers to obtain signed consent forms from borrowers, or explaining how money moves from lender, to Kiva, to Caja Rural, to the client. The most difficult explanation is often how and why. Kate takes on this challenges, and then poses this question to you- the lenders.

Visiting an HIV-Clinic in Guayaquil (Part II)
By Emmanuel M. von Arx, KF16, Ecuador

Emmanuel again heads out of Banco D-MIRO’s headquarters on Guayaquil’s Isla Trinitaria to the HIV-clinic at Hospital Abel Gilbert. He meets inspiring workers on the HIV-front, learns about organizations dedicated to serving this community in need and raising HIV-awareness, and discusses the future of HIV-positive potential microborrowers in Ecuador.

Going Green? Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Promote Green Loans (Part 2)
By Claire Markham, KF16, Kenya

In  part two of this series, Claire attempts to answer the question of how an MFI can break through the obstacles identified in Part 1 to implement a successful green and water loan program. She may not have all the answers, but she gives us some insight into valuable strategies being used worldwide.

*      *       *

Updates from the past month:
New Products in Microfinance, Over-Indebtedness + Transparency
Starting Capital, Development Levels + Adventurous Borrower Visits
Going Pilot to Active, Meeting Borrowers + Technology and Social Performance
Costs of Kiva, Donkey Shares + the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns
Loan Sharks, Snapshots + “the Country with a Smile”

*      *       *

Plus more pictures from the past week:

Kiva Borrower Naryan Devi. By Abhinab Basnyat, KF 16, Nepal

By Tejal Desai, KF16, Sierra Leone

By Eric Rindal, KF16, Bolivia

By Julie Kerr. Thumbs-up and smiles from a proud coffee farmer in La Sierra, Platanares, Costa Rica

About the author

Kate Bennett

Prior to working with Kiva, Kate lived in Quito, Ecuador working in environmental management as a consultant for USAID implementing partners in the global south. After earning her B.A. in Political Economy, Postcolonial History, and Development from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in January 2010, she pursued a practice-based understanding of effective tools in development through work with New York based social change organizations and grassroots nonprofit organizations in Guatemala. Kate worked previously with Kiva as a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador and Peru, which fomented her commitment to microfinance as a tool for poverty alleviation.