Nessa E. French | KF 17 | Kenya

  “An adventure!”

“…Efficient- it gave me an easy time to study.”

“…giving me a chance to complete my studies…”

“…it gave me hope to know that people were believing in me…”

“…made our dreams grow further…”

“Thank You”

These are just a few of the responses that the students at the Campus Kiva meeting gave when I asked them what they thought about Kiva so far.  These were 7 of the first 19 Strathmore students to receive funding for a partial tuition or laptop loan through Kiva.  Many of the students who had received partial tuition loans expressed great relief for now being able to continue and complete their educations at Strathmore.  The students who received laptop loans expressed excitement at how fast they were working and how much easier it was for them to study for their exams and write their papers.

Last week, when the roosters were literally still crowing, the first group of students to receive Kiva loans came together for the first meeting of the Campus Kiva club at Strathmore.  We met a week ago today at 7:30am, as this was the only time that everyone was available because it was final exam week.  I am the furthest from a morning person there is and I was leading the first meeting, so I arrived somewhat grumpy, groggy and unsure of how I would be my energetic presenter-self but, I soon realized how lucky I was to be there meeting this first group of Kiva students.  After the students and staff in attendance introduced themselves including a funny detail about themselves and what they thought about Kiva.  By the end of the meeting, with the exceptional ideas the students had for the club and the determination they displayed in pursuing and excelling in their education, the students had succeeded in turning my tired morning into an inspirational day.

Campus Kiva  is an initiative that gives university students around the world the opportunity to engage in economic development.  Campus Kiva clubs can create lending teams and can learn about microfinance through their participation in Kiva.  At Strathmore, the students will participate in these aspects of Campus Kiva and will also initiate community service project and professional development initiatives.  The club right now is formed of the Kiva loan recipients at Strathmore but, the students agreed it would be best to invite the entire campus body to join the club so that they could make more people aware of the power of microfinance.

The Kiva loan students have not ceased to impress me.  This past weekend, I interviewed a student named Rosemary for an article to get the word out about the availability of the Kiva loans at Strathmore before the next application deadline.   This is her story:

Rosemary stayed up until 2:00 in the morning to see her loan reach 100% raised on kiva.org; she felt relief and excitement that she would be able to continue pursuing a degree in Actuarial Sciences at Strathmore University.  Rosemary is one of the first students to have their partial tuition fee or laptop fee loans funded through Kiva.  Without the Kiva loan, Rosemary said her future at university was uncertain, and she would always be worried about how she and her family were going to pay for her school fees each semester.

 Through the Kiva loan that Rosemary received, she is able to focus on her courses so that she can achieve her goal of working in the micro-insurance sector in order to enable low income earners to access insurance.  In Rosemary’s eyes, attending university is the right choice to ensure a good future for her and her family.  Rosemary encourages other students to apply for the Kiva loans if they want a certain future for their education and so they can focus entirely on their studies, instead of being constantly preoccupied by finances.

Not only is Rosemary concentrated on her studies, she is dedicated to her community and she just completed serving 200 hours of her time to volunteer at a local  children’s home.  She said that she was very impressed with how much the children looked out for each other and how their outlook on life was so positive, despite the hardships they had experienced.

Rosemary was inspired by the students and staff she worked with at the children’s home and I was inspired by her.  I was lucky it was an interview over the phone so that she did not catch me tearing up when she told me that she and her mom stayed up watching her loan fundraise on Kiva.  Kiva is meeting a need using a sustainable model, it is a bright idea that has impacted many people; these things do not make me emotional so, the emotional impact Rosemary’s story had on me truly caught me by surprise.  So, at the risk of sounding extremely cliché, I genuinely echo the Kiva loan students’ feelings about Kiva: it is an adventure, it gives me hope and it makes me dream further.

Nessa French is a Kiva Fellow working with  Strathmore University and KADET in Nairobi, Kenya.


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