Born and raised in Minnesota, Jeffrey earned his B.A. in Economics from Wheaton College outside of Chicago. During his collegiate studies, Jeffrey became passionate about small-scale enterprise and economic development. After composing financial literacy curriculums for inner-city high schools, Jeffrey spent two years as a program strategist with FundaVida, an NGO based in San Jose, Costa Rica. This past summer he worked on a conservation campaign with the EPA, canoeing the entire Mississippi River with his closest college friends. Jeffrey is excited to collaborate with and learn from Kiva's lending partners in Latin Ameria this year. As an extension of his fellowship, Jeffrey is pursuing a career in holistic community development in marginalized urban contexts.

Fellows Blog Posts by Jeffrey Nelson

Jan 10, 2014 CO Colombia

I sat still listening to Antonio.  His words carefully descended his hand-written business plan. His dreams on paper.  A sip from sugarcane sweetened, hand-squeezed limonada.  The cool stainless steel cup set next to a dormant orchid, one of the countless pots lining the rim of Antonio's flowering patio.  I shifted my weight on the make-shift hardwood bench to get a better view of the family dog frozen in a sun-soaked, belly-rub slumber. On turning the final page, I applauded Antonio with my co-workers.  The scarecrow straw hat shading this... Continue Reading >>

Dec 2, 2013 GO Global Update

For much of the world, food is fuel.  But far more than mere sustenance, food draws us together. It slows our pace and brightens each day.  Calling upon all five senses, cusine reaches deep into our psyche and becomes woven into our memory.  Futhermore, the art of preparing food is often an act of service, a vocation of creativity, or a labor of love. Each distinct culture draws upon its geographical pantry to afford...

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Nov 2, 2013 GO Global Update, GT Guatemala, IN India, MX Mexico, PE Peru

In "Potluck fashion" the following blog post includes the perspective of 6 different Kiva fellows placed in 4 different continents.  Each fellow bringing something different to the table. Our work with Kiva in microfinance is so rewarding that celebration seems inevitable.  Thus, we thought it worthwhile to share a glimpse into recent holidays that we have witnessed around the world. Join us on a quick tour of the festivities.   Mid Autumn Festival- Considered the second most important holiday tradition in Vietnam, Mid-Autumn festival is a... Continue Reading >>

Oct 15, 2013 PE Peru

The majesty of Peru extends far beyond Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. This country is teeming with cultural, historical, and geographical diversity.  The following post combines the perspective of three Kiva fellows recently in Peru.  Each offers a brief glimpse into a region where they served and a specific example of how micro-finance with Kiva is making a difference on the ground. The Spanish conquerors oversimplified Peru into three geographic regions: 1. Sierra (mountain highlands), 2. Selva (broadleaf rainforest), 3. Costa (desert coast).  Although these regions do... Continue Reading >>

Aug 26, 2013 CR Costa Rica, SV El Salvador, GO Global Update, GT Guatemala, HN Honduras

This August, I completed 7 months on the road in Central America with Kiva!  I had once ignorantly assumed homogeneity among Central American countries, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover differences in each city, region, and country that I have visited. From climate, to cuisine, to culture, to colloquialisms, I found myself amazed at the variety and distinctions.  So, here are 5 lessons learned and my Top Ten Favorites from my time in the Central America. Lesson 1: The “Stay at Home” mom doesn’t exist After visiting hundreds of Kiva... Continue Reading >>

Jun 18, 2013 GT Guatemala

Swords to Plowshares: Is Micro-finance the proper tool for post-conflict zones?
"To the western eye, this oversized hybrid shovel/axe may seem peculiar, but in the context of subsistence agriculture in the Highlands of Guatemala, the “azadon” or farming hoe is exactly the proper tool. Is micro-finance the proper tool to cultivate social and financial capital a post-conflict context?"
The following blog post will discuss why micro-finance is distinctly qualified as an holistic-... Continue Reading >>

May 9, 2013 GT Guatemala

Today in Guatemala's Supreme Court, closing arguments are being delivered in the trial of former head of state, Efraín Ríos Montt on the accusations of genocide and crimes against humanity.  This landmark case has taken years of patience and the steady call for justice from the affected indigenous communities of Guatemala. In the following blog post, I will outline how the art of Mayan weaving demonstrates a resilience of character that has enabled the women of Guatemala to endure generations of political violence and oppression. ... Continue Reading >>

Apr 9, 2013 GO Global Update

In early February, I interviewed female borrowers in rural Guatemala. Fresh in the field, I was intimidated by seasoned farmers, leathered hands, and weathered grins. My pleated khakis seemed out of place.  We bounced through conversation enjoying the novelty of unfamiliar company.     When a female farmer, Fidelia, described the success of her artichoke crop, I commented that I like artichoke dip. Fidelia... Continue Reading >>

Mar 7, 2013 GT Guatemala

    Last year, I served as a substitute teacher in my hometown of Minnetonka, Minnesota.  Now as a Kiva Fellow in Guatemala, I hope to maintain contact with the students. This is my video journal. International calls... Continue Reading >>