Icaro Rebolledo |KF18 | Peru
Whether it is the Greek/Egyptian elections, Rio +20 meeting or the 2012 Eurocup (c’mon England!)…all the people involved have something to learn from our local Father’s Day football tournament here in Chiclayo- Northern Peru. Yes, we won the tournament!… and how great it feels to be the champions (and score plenty of goals!). Yet, the real enjoyment happened when everyone came together to share the prize (a few too many bottles of beer); if you saw the dancing you would certainly understand! It is crucial for as many people as possible to be able to enjoy the benefits of individual success in order to create a sense of community and strive towards a common goal; political, environmental or any other
Indeed, during my first week as a Kiva Fellow in Peru, I have started to understand that this is precisely Kiva’s goal. At a global level, its lending platform together with its network of microfinance institutions serve as the means to create a community-like link between lenders and borrowers, in order to contribute towards the empowerment of hard working people in developing countries. Moreover, it leverages on its ability to provide cheap funding by incentivizing local microfinance institutions to lend to communities previously excluded from any kind of access to capital.
The way I see it, people are social by nature. This characteristic is something that Kiva embraces and understand in order to create a global community working together towards the improvement of the living conditions of people from often difficult backgrounds, in a way that is ultimately self-sufficient and sustainable. (to see another great example of strong community building, please see Ward´s blog post with great details on our Kiva fellows’ training week in San Francisco!)
I have not yet started visiting the people who ultimately benefit from this. Yet, having spent only a week in my host microfinance institution in Northern Peru, Edpyme Alternativa, I have been able to meet a bunch of honest people within the organization with very strong work ethics. Moreover, the advantage of being in a relatively small city, is that in your day to day life you come across a variety of inspirational stories from hard working entrepreuners who set up their own small restaurant, bakery or own their own motorcycle-taxi (if you saw their driving, you could argue they are even risking their own lives!). This attitude is key for people to feel they have ownership of their own destiny; by fostering the inclusion of individuals into having formal access to capital, I believe Kiva’s mission is even more powerful than perhaps explicitly stated.
One of the strongest examples of the power community building has and change it can foster is the Arab Spring. Here, despite the lack of platforms for social interaction determined citizens came together to topple long standing dictatorships. This has inspired millions in the region to stand strong together against social injustices. Surely, this example together with our football tournament and the rest of stories of community building, can also inspire us to start thinking about how we can contribute to this process (whether it is by lending through Kiva, donating to an NGO’s or through our own work) or it may even help England to finally get their act together and win the Eurocup!!! (if this fails, they should just contact a fantastic football player which would certainly solve all their problems… see picture above for details)
Icaro Rebolledo is a Kiva Fellow, working in Peru this summer with Kiva partner Edpyme Alternativa, a microfinance institution in Northen Peru. Find out how you can become a Kiva Fellow or just more information on kiva and microfinance in general on kiva.org.