I am aware of how tired and incoherent I am right now, but at the same time, it’s been over a week since this happened, and the fact that I haven’t written about it yet is strange. So:
I have been named a Kiva Fellow.
Kiva is a organization that has made the news quite a lot in recent years. It’s a microfinance platform that works to connect entrepreneurs in the developing world with lenders in the developed world who can fund their loans. You can sign up for Kiva and browse the profiles of entrepreneurs who strike your fancy – for example, Nancy Wangari of Kenya, who needs a $450 loan to buy seeds and fertilizer for her farm. And you can fund however much of Nancy’s loan you want. The transactions involved are very small, but they make a huge difference. These are the sorts of entrepreneurs who would never be given a loan under normal circumstances – principally because they’re far too poor to afford collateral – but through microfinance, they’re able to get the capital they need to build a small business and lift themselves out of poverty.
As a Kiva Fellow, I’m going to be working on the ground in a developing country, serving as a liaison between Kiva and one of its partner microfinance institutions (the small in-country organizations that disburse the loans). A large part of what I’m going to be doing is visiting borrowers in rural villages, checking up on them to verify that they’re using the loan in the ways they said they would and that they’re not having difficulty repaying. I’ll also be interviewing new borrowers to learn about their experiences and stories, which will form the basis of a bunch of new entrepreneur profiles I’ll be posting to the Kiva website. As part of my official responsibilities, I will be making regular posts on the Kiva Fellows Blog about my experiences (and I’ll be keeping a personal blog too, don’t you worry!)
I haven’t found out exactly where I’m going yet, but I’ve been told to expect a placement in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, or Central Asia – someplace where Kiva will be able to use my Russian skills, in short. The fellowship is technically unpaid, but I have a Williams scholarship left over from my undergrad days that will cover my expenses almost in full.
I am thrilled. And overwhelmed. And I feel like a bomb just exploded in my life and nothing will be the same henceforth. That metaphor doesn’t give the right image. Imagine that it’s a happiness bomb. Filled with flowers and bunnies and plane tickets and opportunities for career development. Yes.
Sleep. Happy. More later.