By Alana Solimeo, KF9 Costa Rica

After six months of subsisting on rice and beans while living in Boulder, Colorado, in order to save scrupulously in hopes of being invited to the Kiva Fellows Program, where do I stand?  In San Jose, Costa Rica…eating nothing but rice and beans.  I am finally here and don’t let that intro fool you; I’m exactly where I want to be.  Three days into the fellowship and I already have my two favorite things planned: a weekend beach trip and a research topic! (No, I’m not a student just a serial nerd.)
I have been placed with EDESA, an MFI that was formed as a response to an increasing demand for loans to the Community Credit Enterprises (ECCs) that are all throughout Costa Rica, primarily in under-targeted rural areas.  ECCs are legal businesses, member/shareholder/borrower-owned and run that, after their lending capacity expands past that which can be funded by the initial “IPO,” seek more formal funding.  EDESA loops back into the story rather seamlessly at this point.  After the ECCs have been well-established, trained, experienced, demonstrated success and increased capacity, EDESA becomes a source of funding and the ECC becomes a member/shareholder/borrower of EDESA!
Needless to say, their microfinance model is unique, and it’s setting off my dorky, academic-research-paper-writing inclinations like mad.  Young like Kiva, with a far reach, a unique model, and great ambitions, EDESA is a slight anomaly. This makes me wonder, if Kiva’s explanations for low cost delivery method are technology and partnerships, what’s EDESA’s explanation?

Tempted at this point to present my hypothesis, I think I’ll give myself a full week on the job first.  Check back in to the Kiva Fellows Blog to see how my perspective on success at the MFI level develops and evolves.  Join EDESA’s lending team to stay up to date with my journeys visiting ECCs and their borrowers throughout Costa Rica.

For more detailed descriptions of both EDESA and the ECC’s microfinance models please refer back to Kiva Fellow Megan Montgomery’s blog from her time here in San Jose.

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