By Jeremy Lapedis, KF9, Guatemala

A  violinist and pianist set the ambiance along with a slide show of pictures. Everyone attended FAPE’s 25th anniversary celebration: the board of directors, the general assembly, representatives from FAPE’s international partners (I was Kiva’s representative), and FAPE’s director, accountant, and lawyer.   Moriré con las botas puestas. That’s what FAPE’s vice president of the board of directors said while giving an award to the president of the board.

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While the vice president continued, I sat in my suit waiting to receive Kiva’s award. I couldn’t help but thinking how lavish this celebration was. How none of the loan officers had been invited to the ceremony. How there was hardly a mention of entrepreneurs aside from the pictures.  How we were patting ourselves on the back, almost forgetting the people on the ground–the reason we were in microfinance in the first place.

The vice president called Kiva’s name for the award. I stood up and walked toward the podium, enjoying the moment. Though we can’t deny that individual recognition is important, it’s also necessary not to get to wrapped up it. I often grapple with how to strike this perfect balance, and many times I come to this conclusion: It’s always about the people on the ground.

Celebrating a 25th year anniversary is not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s probably a celebration that helps FAPE’s relations with all its investors. But I would have liked to have seen the people who are actually doing the work on the ground in attendance.  In this way, the anniversary would have had more of a connection to the actual entrepreneurs which FAPE supports.  We would have remembered, that although we’ve done some things, there are still many challenges to meet.  I guess I’d like to die walking in my boots, and not celebrating that I figured out how to put them on.  To continue walking in your boots lend on Kiva.

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