Fellows Blog Posts by caseykoppelson

Dec 18, 2010 PH Philippines


In our first week as Kiva trainees we were taught that microloans are not intended for the very poorest of the poor. Microfinance institutions target the unbankable poor, those who can benefit from a loan for an income-generating activity. There is another level of poverty below that, those who need emergency help for basic human needs. Many MFIs develop alternative services for this segment of the population. At CCT, one of Kiva’s partners in the Philippines,...

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Nov 24, 2010 PH Philippines

In the U.S., there is a great deal of concern about hidden fees from financial service providers. “Read the fine print!” we are warned, because this is where fees and special conditions hide.

In a small village in Antique Province in the Philippines, I witnessed an entirely different approach. I accompanied staff from Ahon sa Hirap (ASHI) for the training of a new member. Potential borrowers are required to attend several days of training on interest rates, the different types and levels of loans, and the mechanics of group lending in order to be accepted as an...

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Nov 9, 2010 US United States

I’m a little late on posting my obligatory U.S. fellowship wrap-up, as I’m already a week into my second placement in Philippines.

Bahala na, now I have more perspective.

As we’ve noted several times before, U.S. microfinance tends to be a little different than microfinance in Kiva’s other countries. Most noticeably, the average U.S. loan on Kiva is many times larger than those from other countries. MFIs in the U.S. do not have to factor in currency exchange rates or runaway inflation (at least, not yet!). They are also less dependent upon Kiva’s...

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Oct 30, 2010 US United States

Last week Kiva launched with a new microfinance partner in the United States: ACCION Texas-Louisiana.

Kiva first introduced U.S. loans last summer through Opportunity Fund in California and ACCION USA in New York. While the launch overall was a success and drove scores of new lenders to the site, it was not without its hurdles. As I’ve learned during my fellowship in San Francisco, it can be difficult to explain U.S. microfinance to people who are accustomed to lending in developing countries, largely because of the disparity in loan size. The average loan size on Kiva...

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Oct 14, 2010

Last night the Kiva family gathered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco to celebrate five years of connecting people through lending. In a speech at the VIP reception, Kiva president Premal Shah asked the audience if they could name factors behind Kiva’s success. What is Kiva’s secret ingredient?


Fellows, interns, volunteers, and other pro-bono professionals play a huge role in allowing Kiva to keep its costs low and reach so many borrowers around the world.

Happy Birthday, Kiva. And thank you, Fellows.

Watch the Happy...

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Oct 9, 2010 US United States

In the USA, messaging about microfinance focuses less on “lifting people out of poverty” and more on “helping small business owners access capital.” The microfinance clients served here in California are usually low to moderate-income entrepreneurs who cannot access bank capital for various reasons: they may lack a credit history, they may face cultural or language barriers, or the amount they need may be too small for a bank to touch.

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Sep 27, 2010 US United States

If you’re a Kiva lender hoping to make a loan in the good ol’ USA, you may have trouble finding a borrower. Kiva loans from the U.S. are funded quickly—within 4 or 5 days, sometimes overnight—despite being larger than international loans. If you see one that is fundraising, jump on it! It may be gone by tomorrow.

At Opportunity Fund, Kiva’s partner in the Bay Area, I help the marketing team interview borrowers and post loans to Kiva. This summer our pipeline of potential Kiva loans slowed down to a trickle. In a visit to ACCION USA in New York last week, I learned...

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Aug 17, 2010 US United States

As an American fellow working in San Francisco, I worry that my posts will be considered mundane by adventure-seeking readers. I don’t have a tractor in my office, I have relentless wireless internet, and I have yet to come across a dog-riding chicken. I will attempt to keep things interesting by treating California as a strange and exotic new country and by taking all of your hardball questions.

To begin, let me tell you about my Saturday at the Savers Party in San Jose.

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