Fellows Blog Posts by Eric Burdullis

Feb 8, 2011 PE Peru

Last July, I sat in Kiva headquarters listening to speaker after speaker desperately trying to get a grasp on what life as a Kiva fellow would be like. Despite all my “international” experience, I don´t think anything could have prepared me for the adventure that was to come.  Personally, I set out to discover how microfinance worked, IF it worked, and how it impacted the lives of the people it touched, but I really had no idea what lay ahead of me.

My two Kiva fellowships have allowed me to work with four separate institutions: FAPE and ASDIR in Guatemala and Arariwa and Manuela...

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Dec 27, 2010 PE Peru

By Eric Burdullis, KF12, Cuzco, Peru

As a Kiva Fellow, no two days are the same.  One morning I will wake up at 5am to try to visit a borrower before they head out to work, and the next I’ll be in the office uploading loans or training the Kiva team on how to take a great picture or write a journal worth reading.  In fact, as a Kiva Fellow, our job is so diverse that the Kiva staff creates long lists of things for us to do called deliverables.  My favorite on these “To Dos” is Borrower Verifications.  Essentially, we go into the field and do a spot check to make sure that...

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Dec 20, 2010 PE Peru

First of all, I love Christmas. The tree, Christmas lights (you can ask my parents about what I did to our house when I was a little kid), hot cider, going over to Grandma´s house on Christmas Eve, eating tamales (everyone has their own Christmas traditions), the stockings, Eggs Benedict Christmas morning, watching my Beagle open up his gifts.  The feeling of being around those who you love and those who love you.  I love all of it.

As I search for meaning over the Holidays, I reflect on what I would change about all of it if I could.  And (I know I am not original saying this) I...

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Dec 14, 2010 PE Peru

Last weekend, I had the chance to attend Asociación Arariwa´s year end planning retreat out in the Sacred Valley in Urubamba, Peru.  More than just spending the weekend having fun with my co-workers at the institution, I was excited to finally see what a microfinance institution (MFI) really is about.  On one hand as a Kiva Fellow, I get a very in depth look at how my MFI works, but on the other hand, Kiva is still perceived as a funding source for the MFI so they are constantly “putting their best foot forward”.  Arariwa´s 2011 strategic planning retreat was a way for me to see,...

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Nov 29, 2010 PE Peru

Back when I was just a Kiva lender, I thought how cool it would be to meet one of the borrowers that I had lent too.  I mean that is what just about every Kiva lender dreams of, right? You lend out to people halfway across the world all based off of a couple of paragraphs on a website and a 3” by 5” photo.  But you never really think twice about how real the needs of the people you are lending money to are or what difference the loan will mean in the borrowers life.

Which is why when people ask what I do, I can say seriously that I am living the dream.  As a Kiva fellow with FAPE in...

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Nov 24, 2010 PE Peru

I am always surprised by the power of online social media and networks. Facebook, Twitter, blogging sites like this WordPress one, dating sites like eHarmony, sharing sites like Freecycle or rating ones like Yelp all command huge followings and powerful networks.  The world becomes smaller thanks to sites like Facebook—it is sites like these that allow me to keep in touch with friends while I serve abroad as a Kiva Fellow.  Information gathering and sharing from news, to politics, to microfinance happenings or even the latest costume that friends have caused their pets to suffer through...

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Oct 11, 2010 GT Guatemala

I have written a lot about the auxiliary services offered by microfinance institutions in Guatemala.  One blog, Going Above and Beyond, reflected ASDIR´s additional services from insurance to bill pay, and my last blog, Good Medicine, spoke a little about FAPE´s new medical services program.  Why do you care? As other Kiva Fellows have stated, microfinance is not the silver bullet that will knock out poverty, it is merely the start.  This being said, it will be microcredit coupled with access to basic services such as health, insurance, savings, and education...

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Oct 6, 2010 GT Guatemala

For most, take your medicine! conjures up negative images of spoonfuls of cherry cough syrup or days spent in bed with the flu.  For the clients of one microfinance institution, FAPE, based out of Guatemala City, Guatemala, it is something much sweeter.  FAPE recently teamed up with the Canadian Government and an NGO “Gems of Hope” to provide low cost medicine and medical consultations to its clients as well as free health education.

How it works. A Gems of Hope team arrives to the village bank meetings with FAPE´s loan officer.  After loan repayments are collected, one member of...

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Sep 9, 2010 GT Guatemala

I was impressed. When I first stepped into ASDIR´s office, I was confronted with half a dozen banners listing the details of all the services they offer. The first banner was for Seguros Columna: an insurance agency that ASDIR pays for to offer life insurance to its clients (essentially, if a client dies, ASDIR cancels the loan: a great service for the family of someone in poverty).  A second and third advertised a service to send and receive remittances through Western Union and Sigue.  A fourth advertised saving services through G & T Continental (microfinance institutions can´t...

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Aug 28, 2010 GT Guatemala

I started this blog on a scrap of paper during a group visit.  I started writing because, well, I felt uncomfortable.  I wasn´t quite sure what my place in the conversation should be or even what my facial expressions should be.  And this wasn´t the first visit I felt uncomfortable on that day.

I wanted to give Kiva lenders updates, journal postings, on a couple of lenders that had fallen behind in their payments…way behind.  And now, the loan officer, the operations manager and I were at their homes or their places of business trying to figure out why this had happened, and how...

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