Update from the Field: Videos, Epic Commutes + Going Beyond Microfinance

Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa

Kiva's microfinance partners often provide services beyond finance, including housing (pictured above in Colombia), education, energy, agriculture, hospitality, business, women's rights, community, and culture.

Another week, another incredible range of dispatches from around the world. Several Fellows told their stories with video and pictures while others took time to reflect on the state of microfinance as a global industry and in their respective countries. And what would a week in the field be without getting to know a few borrowers? Plus, scroll to the end of the post for pictures you may have missed the first time around.

Video Blog – The Life Of A Kiva Fellow
Country: Dominican Republic, Haiti, Colombia / Fellow: Nick Hamilton (KF13, KF14)

Need a break from reading about what Kiva Fellows do? Then watch Nick’s video for a fun yet informative overview. (Don’t let the opening scenes on the beach fool you – being a Kiva Fellow is a lot of work.)

Video Blog: The Story of Lini Nanyonga
Country: Uganda / Fellow: Nila Uthayakumar (KF14)

Nila introduces us to Lini Nanyonga, a microfinance client in Uganda. Learn more about her business, how she used her loan, and her hopes for the future in this short video.

A Kiva Fellow’s Photo Album: Six Months Along The Equator
Country: Ecuador, Kenya / Fellow: Tara Capsuto (KF12, KF13)

Tara tries to find the words to describe her Kiva Fellowships but ends up letting photos of local foods, finding borrowers, hanging with Kiva Coordinators, and much more speak for themselves.

Ten interviews with Mongolian entrepreneurs
Country: Mongolia / Fellow: Amber Barger (KF14)

Be sure to click on each picture in Amber’s post for business updates from a meat saleswoman, a painter, a cook, a car repairman/builder of low-income housing, and five other borrowers.

Participating in the Dialogue: The Role of Microfinance Critics (Part 2)
Country: Bolivia / Fellow: Julie Shea (KF13)

Julie responds to some of the controversial statements being made about microfinance with the story of CIDRE, the microfinance institution she’s been working with in Bolivia, and a round-up of related links.

Kiva Field Partners: More than just microfinance
Country: Colombia / Fellow: John Gwillim (KF14)

As John details in his post, Kiva’s partners often provide services well outside the scope of traditional microfinance. In addition to examples from Colombia, read more about programs in Ghana, Paraguay, and Peru.

Money, Money, Everywhere
Country: Benin / Fellow: Gareth Davies (KF14)

Gareth makes thoughtful and stirring connections between Samuel Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and economic activity in Benin.

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Landscape of Microfinance in Nepal
Country: Nepal / Fellow: Claudine Emeott (KF14)

Access to finance and microfinance in Nepal is directly related to geography – the higher you climb, the fewer the options. Claudine lays out the current situation while pointing to some promising developments.

The Highland Commute
Country: Guatemala / Fellow: Gustavo Visalli (KF14)

Gustavo gives us a taste of his daily commute in Guatemala. Find out how he survives “The Sardine Act”, “The Highway Shoulder Hike”, and “El Carnicero” (aka “The Butcher”).

Cindy’s Baptism by Onions
Country: Nicaragua / Fellow: Karen Gray (KF14)

The first visit to the field is just as exciting for new microfinance staff as it is for Kiva Fellows. While there are always challenges (often related to transportation), there can be unexpected surprises, too.

Microfinance Marketing 101: The Loan Officer
Country: Cambodia / Fellow: Stephanie Sibal (KF14)

As Stephanie writes, loan officers not only tackle on-the-ground PR for a microfinance organization, they also play an essential role in marketing, customer service, product feedback, and, of course, loan administration.

Previous updates from the field:
“Christmas”, Trekking, Adversity + Good Company


Plus more pictures from this past week:

Nicaragua (by Karen Gray)

Guatemala (by Gustavo Visalli)

Kenya (by Tara Capsuto)

Bolivia (by Julie Shea)


Mongolia (by Amber Barger)

Nepal (by Claudine Emeott)

About the author

Alexis Ditkowsky