Kiva Hangout: Talking with Maharishi students funded with Kiva loans!

On Nov. 1, Kiva held a live Google Hangout connecting students at the Maharishi Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa with Kiva lenders who are helping them finance their educations.

Maharishi Institute is a unique school that pairs computer and distance-learning services with on-site instruction for a truly customized and empowering educational experience. Streamed live from Johannesburg, the Hangout connected participants in Nairobi, Kenya, Providence, Rhode Island and San Francisco (where Kiva CEO Matt Flannery moderated the discussion).

The good news is we recorded the whole thing so all of our lenders can hear from these incredible students firsthand and see what it's like for lenders and borrowers to make contact. Watch the full video below:

And here's a highlight reel if you only have a few minutes:

The stars of the hour were Portia and Mamello, two Maharishi students studying for degrees in business administration. Both hail from Johannesburg and wouldn't be able to afford school without flexible tuition financing. Kiva turned out to be a perfect fit.

Raising an infant daughter, 21-year-old Mamello is interested in women's empowerment. She feels that young girls often lack confidence, and would love to run workshops for young girls to learn public speaking and how to be more at ease with themselves. You can hear more from her in this video.

Portia is the same age as Mamello and also cares deeply about women's issues. After earning her degree from Maharishi, she plans to go on to get a PhD in economics. Her ultimate goal is to open a shelter for women and children affected by violence in their communities. You can hear more about her loan and ambitions in this video.

Also joining the hangout were Maharishi's eloquent CEO (and Skoll Foundation award winner) Taddy Blecher and Kiva Senior Field Support Specialist and Maharishi lender Mac Parish.

Plus two amazing Kiva lenders: Stanford, a medical student at Brown who lent to Mamello, and Ravi, who belongs to the Team Lotus lending team and has made over 1,000 loans. He lent to both Portia and Mamello.

There's something magical about seeing borrowers and lenders interact -- and hearing how Kiva loans are making a difference in all of their lives. We witnessed the same thing during our inaugural Hangout with Strathmore University students in Kenya this July -- and we look forward to getting even more lenders involved in Hangouts in the future!

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About the author

Camille Ricketts

Camille brings her passion for storytelling to Kiva, where she helps create and curate online content. A longtime journalist, she started her career reporting on arts and culture for the Wall Street Journal in London and New York. In 2008, she joined San Francisco-based blog VentureBeat, writing about  green technology, policy and finance. Most recently, she worked in public relations for electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Outside of work, Camille volunteers as a web designer for maternal health nonprofit Saving Mothers. She holds a B.A. in women's history from Stanford University, where she also served as editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.