Hiking up a terrace farm to meet with a borrower (right before the rain falls)

Hiking up a terrace farm to meet with a borrower (right before the rain falls)

Guard dogs, long hikes and broken-down motos are just a few of the obstacles we face on our hunt to track down new Kiva borrowers.

Along with my trustee co-pilot/loan officer/BFF, Juan Carlos, we’ve managed to catch up with 28 new borrowers this month, and the quest to do-so has been nothing short of an adventure.

In the majority of cases, we’re given a hand-drawn map at the ADICLA headquarters, marked with a few points of interests and accompanied by the customary “you can’t miss it.”

From there, we set off into the countryide and neighboring villages of Sololá with a mission to shake hands and deliver opportunity.

Maneuvering down a beat up road on the wrong side of town

Juan Carlos maneuvering down a beat up road as I cheer him on

We’re able to zoom in on our financial targets through a pinball-like strategy of asking one neighbor after another until a name sticks with somebody. It’s a numbers game, but we always find a match (eventually).

The paths we take often turn into winding sidewalks, between and through homes, fields and workshops, so we count on the fact that people of the Guatemalan countryside know their neighbors by name within a few mile radius.

The things we don’t often factor in along our journey however, are what make this glorified scavenger hunt so exciting.

Stopping to smell the roses along our journey

Stopping to smell the roses along our journey

Last week alone , we were chased off a property by three protective guard dogs, hiked 45-minutes up a terrace farm in the pouring rain and had to repair Juan Carlos’ moto four times in two hours because apparently the chain isn’t fit for a 200 lbs gringo.

Juan Carlos fixing our broken chain in the middle of nowhere (as I take photos)

Juan Carlos fixing our broken chain in the middle of nowhere (as I take photos)

These are the moments that make our meetings so special.

The opportunity I have to visit borrowers, in their natural surroundings, in what may seem like the most remote of locations, has no doubt been the highlight of this fellowship.

From fabric weavers and mecanics, to grocery store clerks and onion farmers, once we make it through the obstacle course that is the actual arrival, we’re always met with open arms and big smiles.

Juan Carlos and I listening to a borrower tell her story

Juan Carlos and I listening to a borrower tell her story

Sometimes I think their smiles come from us being there and other times I think it just makes them happy knowing what we went through to find them.

Here are a few more visual highlights of  our conquests thus far…

A viscious guard dog protecting his territory

A viscious guard dog protecting his territory

Letting a borrower take a break upon our arrival

Putting in some work to earn the trust of one borrower.

Arriving at a new borrower is a family affair

Arriving at a new borrower is a family affair

A borrower meeting isn't complete without a signed client waiver!

A borrower meeting isn’t complete without a signed client waiver!


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Comments

Awesome, Gareth... great pictures, I felt I was along for the ride (and breakdown, as it were). Glad you're getting those CW's signed, they can be a real (but necessary) headache!

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garethleonard Born in Indiana and raised in Upstate New York, Gareth was addicted to basketball and dreamed of growing up to become a famous actor. All that changed when he went away to college and found his passion for business and the stock market. He changed his major from liberal arts to a double major in Finance and Economics, started the Entrepreneur's Club, tended bar three nights a week and joined a start-up college textbook company that rivaled the on-campus store. After graduation, Gareth took on the role of Marketing Director with the textbook business and helped expand the dorm room start-up into a multi-million dollar online textbook marketplace with stores in New York, Utah and California. Six years later, he found himself working non-stop for someone else’s dream and for an organization that he was not passionate about. In 2009, Gareth uprooted everything comfortable in his life and bought a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina on a quest to submerge himself in a foreign culture and push personal limitations. Since then, he has lived in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, building relationships, learning Spanish and adapting to his surrounding while moonlighting as a marketing consultant.
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