I am seeking your involvement in helping to alleviate poverty by supporting my travel and living expenses while volunteering abroad as a "Kiva Fellow" in Timor-Leste and West Timor, Indonesia. I will be assisting two local NGO's work within the Kiva framework to provide micro-finance loans to the poor in one of the poorest areas of the world.
I first learned about "micro-finance" a year ago. In a nutshell, it works like this. Poor people throughout the world are locked out of loans through normal channels because they do not meet capital or income requirements to satisfy banks or other legitimate traditional sources of borrowing. Thus they are forced to live without credit, or must borrow from moneylenders at usurious rates - often becoming little more than indentured servants to unscrupulous lenders. Micro-finance was developed to address these problems by making small, unsecured loans to people with ideas and energy to encourage them in their growth. Training is given to the borrowers to help them manage their finances, and they are often made part of a group of borrowers to give moral support to each other on their paths. Over 98% of the loans in micro-finance programs are repaid in full and on time. In addition, money that is repaid is recycled and loaned again to assist others.
Intrigued by the concept, I wanted to find out how I could participate, and I discovered the San Francisco-based non-profit organization, Kiva. Kiva raises money from lenders like you and me that they loan at 0% interest to field partners (local NGO's) to make loans to the poor in over 60 countries throughout the world. The loans are used to help people or groups of people start or improve their business, repair a home, pay for a child's education, or other needs. Women are most often the recipients of these loans and are empowered to focus on the needs of their families while instilling an entrepreneurial spirit in their children and communities. www.Kiva.org
I began to make small loans through Kiva myself, and have now made over 65 of them. The photo at the top of the page is a mosaic of some of the recipients of loans I've made.
ABOUT THE KIVA FELLOWS PROGRAM
After being involved in the loaning process, I discovered a very interesting thing. Kiva needed volunteers. "Kiva Fellows" work overseas for four months with a local NGO to train them in Kiva’s processes and help them manage their work to ensure they follow Kiva's guidelines. I applied to Kiva, survived the competitive selection process, and have been selected for the Kiva Fellows 20th Class to serve in Timor-Leste and West Timor.
This is a four-month commitment. A Fellow's responsibilities vary among assignments, but he or she basically acts as a middleman between Kiva and the local partners. I will be the only Kiva representative serving in Timor-Leste and West Timor beginning in late-January, 2013.
Kiva Fellows are not paid, nor is any financial support given by Kiva for travel, living expenses, vaccinations, visas or any other expenses. Fellows provide their own laptop computer, camera, cell phone, etc., along with the skills and desire to help make the system work. My responsibilities will also include writing a monthly blog to communicate my experiences.
I am an engineer by education and an engineering manager by profession with over 20 years of experience in industry. I have been a life-long traveler. My goals have shifted over the years and I am no longer satisfied with merely visiting a foreign country as a tourist. I prefer to have a purpose while there to better appreciate the culture and become more involved with the people. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to work overseas in my profession and have learned a great deal from that experience. Having left the corporate world, I sought out Kiva hoping to apply my skills and broaden my horizons in a less familiar area while helping others.
THE MONEY I RAISE
Unfortunately, the financial support you give me is NOT tax deductible.
In addition to covering my travel and living expenses for the duration of my first four month assignment, the funding I am seeking will cover expenses for a required five day training session with other members of the 20th Kiva Fellows Class. The amount of money I am requesting is budgeted as follows:
Kiva Fellow training in US $1,350 transfers, flights, hotel, meals
International travel 2,630 transfers, flights, visas, vaccinations
Housing for 4 months 1,900
Meals for 4 months 1,300
Misc. 920 local trans, phone, med. kit, etc.
Should I exceed my immediate goal, the extra funds will be used in a subsequent assignment or will be donated to Kiva.
THE INCENTIVES FOR YOU
You will be the recipient of the incentive gift based on your level of support, but this is just a token representing the gratification you will have in becoming involved in this good work.
Please help me reach my goal. And please share this with others you know who would be interested to help.
I thank you in advance for your support.
MORE ABOUT MICRO-FINANCE
"Banker to the Poor", by Muhammad Yunus. Nobel Prize winner who createdg and developed the world's first micro-finance program in Bangladesh.
“A Billion Bootstraps”, by P. Smith and E. Thurman. Using sound business practices to create economic opportunities for the poor.
MORE ABOUT KIVA