So what do I do at work, besides creating office spaces by beautiful lakes?

I remember writing about my responsibilities as a Kiva Fellow in one my earlier posts – of course at that point I was only a few days into the role and barely knew what I was talking about. So what’s the reality?

Borrower verification

A borrower verification (BV) is essentially an audit that Kiva conducts on all its field partners to check adherence to Kiva policies and processes. As part of it, I visit a randomly selected group of borrowers and check information regarding them, their loan and their interactions with the field partner / Kiva.

Whilst I cannot believe I have turned to the dark side (apologies to all the auditors out there!), the BVs are actually the best way to meet locals in their homes or businesses in remote areas of the country . As a tourist I would never have the chance to meet these awesome people!

Creating a safe and relaxed environment is key when it comes to the BV as it can be very daunting when a random white lady comes to your house with tons of paperwork, check lists to tick and asks to take pictures of you.

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Content collection

This is where the real fun begins! I get to spend time with the borrowers and learn how they spend their day to day, how the loan has helped them and what their plans are for the future.

I have met incredibly resourceful and innovative people and will be blogging about my visits on the Kiva.org website (ask me for links!). Some highlights include:

  • A local grocer bought an electricity voucher terminal for her shop so that her community don’t have to trek all the way to town to top up their electricity
  • A 24-year old woman set up her own egg wholesale business and literally sells thousands of eggs a day
  • A mother of eight taught herself how to use the knitting machine and now has a contract with the local school to knit the kids’ school uniforms

It is essential I connect with the borrowers as otherwise the content (stories, pictures, videos) just wont be great – we crack jokes, we share personal stories and I try to draw similarities between our lives as much as possible (for example, I’m as old as your oldest daughter; or my mum also used to make clothes for me when I was a kid).

And even then it is hard to make a Rwandan smile! It is almost impossible…

So what do I do? My current strategy (whilst ridiculous) has been very successful – I burst out laughing myself, they then think I’m weird and start laughing at me and hey presto – awesome smiley happy borrowers!

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Process improvement with the field partner

This is where I feel most at home as I do this every day at EY. Understanding how the field partner works, what are the areas that are annoying or difficult for them and then figuring out what we can improve.

This can involve learning a new Excel formula, understanding how to take good pictures or learning how to write inspiring borrower profiles.

As I’m still only a month in, I’m sure I’ll be undertaking plenty of other activities so watch this space…

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