As a Kiva Fellow, I have been assigned two field partners – Urwego Opportunity Bank and Kepler University.
My first three months in Kigali will be spent with Urwego, a leading microfinance institution here in Rwanda that primarily focuses on the underprivileged, i.e. women, farmers and rural populations.
My average work day begins at 8am and finishes around 6pm. The majority of the workforce gets to work by bus, including me. My 10 minute ride costs me 200 Rwandan franks (20p in the UK) and plenty of priceless ‘mazungu mazungu’ looks. I can however also walk home and enjoy the beautiful views of the valleys.
The dress code is pretty formal – shirts and trousers for men; skirts and blouses for women. Urwego (and Rwanda as a whole for that matter) is a deeply religious country, so shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. Mazungus get away with showing more skin but leggings with skirts has become my go to solution!
One of my main tasks at Urwego will be conducting a borrower verification (BV). This means visiting 10 randomly selected borrowers across Rwanda and ensuring all processes are followed and all documentation is accurate.
A successful BV indicates that each party in the Kiva lending process is taken care of – a borrower knows their story and picture are available on the Internet; a lender knows that the people they lent their money to actually exist; and Kiva knows the field partner understands and lives the Kiva values every day.
From a personal perspective, this assignment allows me to meet the beautiful people of Rwanda, explore the country side and visit remote villages. I cannot wait!