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Volunteering with Kiva – Anytime, Anywhere

Dear Reader:


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help Kiva edit and translate the equivalent of three novels of War and Peace into English in the next 30 days. And you’re in luck! Most of the chapters will already be in English, but the grammar needs to be cleaned up. A fair few will be in Spanish. And a smattering of chapters throughout will be in French, Russian, and Portuguese.


As our trusted consultant, dear reader, who will you find to edit and translate these approximately 1,700,000 words? How many friends do you think you will need?


This is pretty much what happens at Kiva each month. Our organization is a platform where lenders can connect with small-scale entrepreneurs and provide them with small loans. In order to connect with these borrowers, lenders need to be able to read their loan requests, or loan profiles. In June, over 17,000 loan profiles were posted to the lending platform (our highest number of loan postings ever), and almost every single loan needed to be edited or translated in accordance with English syntax and grammar and reviewed for conformity with Kiva’s policies.


So, how does this happen? It happens through the collective power of about 380 volunteers worldwide. True to Kiva’s global reach, its volunteers are found in Tel Aviv, Brussels, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, New York City, and hundreds of other places around the globe. In an age where many around the world can come together with $25 to fund one person’s loan, one person, in almost any location, can review multiple loans that average 100 words each.

A borrower in Ukraine works in his fields

Found in 82 countries, Kiva’s Field Partners post loans in English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese. We use an in-house webplatform to queue up these loans and make them available to volunteer editors and translators all over the world. At any time, a volunteer can log onto the platform and grab a loan at random. Once they have edited or translated the loan, and ensured it meets Kiva’s policies, they post it to the site for funding.


People often think, “I’d love to volunteer, but….” And the reasons that stop them frequently have to do with lack of time and physical distance from the organization. One of the advantages of volunteering with Kiva is that it’s an “anytime, anywhere” model. The organization asks for a commitment of two hours per week, but those two hours can happen on the volunteer’s schedule.


Volunteers can review loans from the comfort of their couch

Volunteers report reviewing loans from their home offices, curled up on the couch with their favorite feline, or from the coffee shop down the street. Some find time during layovers at the airport, and others say they review loans on the beach! With a computer and an internet connection, the possibilities are endless. Volunteers report that the ease with which they are able to review loans, the autonomy that they have, and the connection they feel with borrowers are the main reasons that they volunteer with Kiva.


A borrower in Honduras

In addition to connecting with borrowers around the world, volunteers connect with each other via a forum where they discuss regionalisms such as a “dunum”, which is a unit of area, or chayote, which is a plant known by over 30 names – depending on the region where the loan was written. They also share glimpses into their lives. As of this writing, a volunteer posted a score while asking others for clarification on a word – indicating that he is watching the World Series while reviewing loans.   


Given how skilled Kiva’s volunteers are, you may imagine that the training to become an editor or translator would take weeks. The truth is, the entire training takes about six to eight hours – and it can be done at the volunteer’s convenience, over the course of a week or two.


If you have been looking for opportunities to volunteer, and you believe in Kiva’s mission to alleviate poverty through lending, we hope you will consider giving two hours of your week – editing and translating dreams into opportunities.



About the author

Apryl Gibson

Having visited every country that starts with Q, Apryl considers herself particularly well-traveled. Upon earning a degree in Spanish, Peace Corps sent her to Bulgaria. Finding herself hooked, she returned multiple times in different roles until Peace Corps told her to leave because it was shutting down operations in the country. She then moved to the Dominican Republic, where she led volunteer experiences with Outreach360. She has also lived and worked in Spain, Guatemala, and Turkey. Apryl holds a BA in Spanish from La Sierra University and an MIA from Columbia University. She loves variety in all forms, reading listicles entitled “Ways to Tell You’re an Extroverted Introvert”, and learning words in languages with no English equivalent. Returning to her beloved California to work with the Kiva team feels like a bilita mpash.