Please explain the reasons why you wish to become a Kiva Fellow and articulate how these reasons are related to your past experiences and life goals.
In the summer of 2005, a group of Tanzanian Maasai women presented their latest venture to bolster their participation in a local tree-planting network by selling beaded necklaces and ornaments. The proceeds from the project were helping sustain the village. More importantly, they were raising enough to buy the tools they needed to reforest their village.
Listening to these women, and seeing how far just a little bit of money and a lot of work could go, I felt for the first time that I was witnessing something life-changing.
I was half-the-world away from my home, having just graduated from a small liberal arts college with a degree in African studies, and I already had found my calling. These women and their project appealed to my persistent idealism, but also satisfied my tenacious practicality. I knew then I wanted to work with them.
In the five years since that moment, I’ve worked for both non- and for- profit organizations, developing professional skills, while learning as much as I can about microfinance and how to engage and empower individuals, particularly women, to support and develop their own communities.
I’ve volunteered and traveled in developing countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Nicaragua, building relationships while also supporting various organizations and learning about different parts of the world.
Back in the States, I’ve worked for two different non-profits, the Worldwatch Institute and the Jane Goodall Institute, engaging with both volunteers and field partners, and directing fundraising efforts.
I’ve also worked in a variety of roles for a global consultancy’s finance division. Working in such a large company during a period of economic turmoil has forced me to learn how to remain flexible and persistent in constantly changing circumstances while I cut my teeth learning about best practices in international finance. I’ve become comfortable making important decisions while prioritizing competing priorities.
The time has come to put these skills to work in a much more meaningful way, and I would love to be able to use my experiences to maximize Kiva’s partnerships with their field partners and borrowers. As a member of the information generation, I am endlessly comfortable with technology, snapping photos, uploading them to blogs and websites, and creating an online presence to match my enthusiasm for Kiva’s mission.
The Kiva fellowship offers a unique introduction to working in microfinance, as well as the opportunity to gain amazing hands-on experience in the field. After the fellowship, I plan to pursue an advanced business degree as I begin my career working with microfinance organizations. I want to make a difference in a meaningful and measurable way, and I think serving as a Kiva fellow is an incredible way to do so.