David Gorgani | KF 17 | Dominican Republic

Looking at the Kiva Fellows Blog over the past few weeks, one might interpret that the principal role of a Kiva Fellow is to verify that the information on Kiva.org is accurate and that it was shared with the consent of the borrower.  While this is an important part of a Kiva Fellowship, it is one of dozen(s) of tasks assigned to a Kiva Fellow – so why so many posts on this specific deliverable?

1) Importance.  Borrower Verifications (BVs) are undoubtedly among the most important tasks of a Fellow, if not the most important task, for obvious reasons.  Thus, for many of Fellows the BVs were the first task to be tackled.

2) Sexiness.  BVs are sexy, sexy defined as “Interacting as closely to the beneficiaries of Kiva loans [your loans] as possible.” In other words, BVs are the most interesting activities to share with the world.

Branch Office Training - Presenting the question: "Knowing what you now know about Kiva, what should be considered when choosing Kiva loans?"

I hate to burst all of your bubbles but despite the significance of BVs, there’s a lot more to a Kiva Fellowship than this individual task, and this post is to tell you about another deliverable: the almost-as-sexy Loan Officer Training!

One of the two MFI partners to which I’ve been assigned, Asociación Para Inversión y Empleo, Inc. (ASPIRE) is a brand new Kiva partner.

After a Branch Office Training at Villa Altagracia

They officially came on as a pilot partner about a month ago, and will be posting their first loans to Kiva.org within the next few weeks.  I’ve been sent here to help them learn about the unique demands of Kiva loans (i.e. collecting info for Kiva profiles, journaling, etc.) as well as help them adapt their institutional structure to these unique demands.

Since the information on Kiva.org generally needs to be collected either at the time of loan assessment or disbursement, this responsibility is shared among many loan officers.  For the purposes of ASPIRE, this translates to training about 75 loan officers and branch office managers on: i) how to choose Kiva loans, ii) how to explain the consent form to borrowers, iii) how to carry out the interview for Kiva profiles, and iv) how to collect information for journaling.

A Loan Officer posing for an imaginary Kiva profile photo with his "product"

Now let’s do some math.  Imagine the average number of loan officers per MFI is 75, a la ASPIRE.  Multiply that by Kiva’s 147 field partners and you’ve got 11,025 individuals employed by Kiva’s field partners, who collect information from the field. Of course, this average is a very rough estimate, and many MFIs collect borrower information differently, but this number should give you an idea of the quantity of people involved in collecting the information you see on Kiva.org, and thus should give you an idea of the importance of branch office training, both for new partners and for continuing partners.

Sure, trainings aren’t as sexy as Borrower Verifications, and in all likelihood that fact has made this post much less sexy than most of the others in this blog.  Still, I hope it sheds some light on the diverse tasks of us Kiva Fellows, as well as on the importance of thorough and continual training of our MFI partners on Kiva products, both by us Fellows and by Kiva staff.

And now I’m off to Branch Office Training number 5 of 5, wish me luck!

David Gorgani is a Kiva Fellow serving in the Dominican Republic, helping ASPIRE get started as a Kiva Field Partner, helping Esperanza International with borrower verifications, and attempting to learn salsa and merengue on the side.


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