The Internet is out, so I’m writing my first blog post—one of the few things a Kiva Fellow can accomplish without access to the “series of tubes.” I’d like to introduce myself and explain a little about why exactly I wanted to move across the globe, give up access to reliable water pressure, and work for 12 weeks for free.
I’m interested in microlending, Kiva, and social entrepreneurship because of what I’ve learned in the classroom and experienced while spending time abroad. One day I hope to build a career in sustainable economic and social development. I graduated from college a little more than a year ago with a degree in International Affairs and, like many recent grads, I had planned to hop from the pages of academia into the foothills of my career. Since then, I have learned that life doesn’t usually go as you plan—especially if you’re in the non-profit sector during a drastic economic downturn. So I’ve fought my way into this resource-barren field by utilizing every crumb of experience I could get a.k.a. I’m a professional intern. Really, I’ve had three in the past 9 months. One of which, was with the Kiva Fellows Program in San Francisco.
My time at Kiva HQ expanded my knowledge in many ways, but most relevant to my fellowship is my understanding of Kiva as an organization. Over the past eight months, I became an insider to the organization’s four stakeholders—the lender, Kiva as an institution, field partner, and borrower. During my internship, I got to know the org’s dedicated staff members, in-office volunteers, and Kiva Fellows. While Kiva HQ is full of yoga balls, chocolate croissants, and the occasional yellow lab, the people behind the scene are a wonderful batch from a wealth of backgrounds and diverse array of experiences. As a result of my time in the office, I feel evermore connected to Kiva and its mission, connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty.
However, there is only so much to be learned about two of Kiva’s key components while sitting in cloudy San Francisco—the field partner and borrower (unless, of course, you work with the local field partner Opportunity Fund). After studying development, interning at Kiva, and being a lender, I was curious and enthusiastic to see how Kiva works from the other side. Thus, I decided to apply to the Kiva Fellows Program to learn about microfinance from the ground where I could hear the clients’ stories firsthand and experience daily life at a microfinance institution. I’m here to ask questions, understand, and learn. I hope to walk (or fly) away from the field with a broader understanding of development, comprehensive knowledge about Kiva, and invaluable friendships and life experiences.
So for the next four months, I will continue to learn the ins and outs of Kiva through the field partner and the borrower. As a Kiva Fellow with Yehu Microfiance Trust in Kenya, I will utilize the knowledge I gained about Kiva during my internship and KF training. With this knowledge I plan on assisting the field partner with implementation of the Kiva model, understand what this experience is like for the borrower, and to serve as the link between Kiva’s principal players: lender on the website, borrower in the field, the field partner, and Kiva headquarters in San Francisco.'
Katie Morton (KF12) is enjoying riding camels and consuming her daily dose of chapatti, beans, and mystery greens while she works with Yehu Microfinance Trust in Mombasa, Kenya. Check out Yehu’s currently fundraising loans and its lending team!