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Letters from an Intern: Sam Shain is galvanizing communities at Kiva

Meet Sam Shain, Kiva's Credit Operations intern! A North Carolina State University alum, Sam recently graduated with a degree in International Studies, concentrating in Global Sustainability & Development. Now, he's mid-internship with the Credit Operations team at Kiva HQ in San Francisco.

When I was six years old, I galvanized my church congregation to donate to Heifer International, a global nonprofit working to eradicate poverty and hunger across the globe. I’d been taught the sustainable, values-based community development model that Heifer employs in Sunday school, and wished to inspire as many people as possible to join the movement. The fundraiser garnered a little under $700, resulting in the purchase of several chickens, a couple of goats and a heifer which were provided to a handful of Senegalese families.

Giving people the resources they need to help them lead more dignified and self-sufficient lives profoundly impacted me. I became more inquisitive, grateful, and informed about the state of the world and its various inequities. To see the transformative power small sums of money could have on the lives of so many people left me wanting to do more. Despite not having direct contact with the recipients, I knew our congregation’s financial resources and positive intentions would benefit those in need.

I’m not sure if I can trace my understanding of human connection back to this period, but one thing remains clear: this experience lit a fire within me. Nearly two decades years later, I remain impassioned by the desire to empower those who lack access to financial resources. The dollars collected, though, have shifted from the hundreds to the billions. Each of Kiva’s borrowers has their own story. Interning at Kiva has given me the chance to connect more directly with those people and their stories, as well as acquire a meaningful perspective on the journey one faces in bringing a dream to fruition.

Arriving to work at Kiva HQ in San Francisco, Ca.!

Through my work, I’m able to manifest my passion for assisting others in realizing their dreams by sharing their stories with the world. My fellow Kivans are wholly committed to the mission of expanding financial access to help underserved communities thrive. Collaborating with people who unify around the vision of producing tangible opportunities for millions across the globe is invaluable.

A few weeks ago, Kiva published findings addressing why partners opt to work with our organization through consumer and employee engagement programs. According to the results, sharing a “strong sense of engagement intertwined with the human need for purpose and connection” is a core catalyst. To me, Kiva’s motto, “Dreams are universal. Opportunity is not.”, is more than a catchphrase; it’s a rallying call to action.

In these incredibly uncertain times, many people’s stories are being silenced by the tidal wave of hardship that communities across the world are facing. But the work Kiva is doing instills hope within me. Learning about the ways in which borrowers hope to revitalize their communities and generate a positive impact is inspiring. Regardless of where my professional career takes me next, I’ll always value how this internship humanized my understanding of financial inclusion. How it gave those who I’d previously struggled to fully understand a chance to communicate their stories with me.

Interested in interning at Kiva? Visit today to apply!

About the author

Samuel Shain