Every day friends and family ask me, “What do you do as a Kiva Fellow in the Bay Area?” and every time my answer is slightly different, depending on which day you ask. So I wanted to take the time and share with you what one day is like as a Kiva Fellow in the US. I am currently in California, specifically the Bay Area and have the opportunity to support the local and talented individuals through Kiva Zip.
My days aren’t typical and I don’t have a set office space, mainly because I’m working “remotely” in the field and my office is usually my handbag. It consists of my laptop, a charger, my Kiva Fellows water bottle, a notebook, my pen case, my glasses, headphones, a stack of my business cards, and some lip balm. Oh wait, and a hair tie; a girl needs her hair tie! My cell phone is usually in my hand and I am writing emails, taking calls, or responding to text messages. My mobile office travels with me everywhere, it also doubles as the gym; it weighs at least 7 lbs.
My morning usually starts off by answering emails from my supervisor (aka “the Ren”), all sent before 9am, while sending out emails to confirm my meetings for the day and week. After having my healthy breakfast of almond milk, cereal, and blueberries, I am off to meet up with a borrower who is in the process of getting his loan to go live. We have to get some clear, high quality, smiling pictures of him for his profile shot. After taking his pictures and checking over his application, I call up with his trustee and check in with the endorsement process.
By now it’s lunchtime, and it’s a fast food kind of day; I am driving down to San Leandro to meet with some folks at City Hall. As I shovel in two bean burritos (with hot sauce!) in front of city hall and gulp down my cherry Pepsi, I recap my talking points that I would like to make during my meeting and I wipe my mouth and head up to the office. After talking to the folks at city hall about what Kiva Zip is, an experimental site (launched by Kiva) that enables you to make direct loans to entrepreneurs in Kenya and the United States, we go through what it means to be a trustee and the steps one takes to become a trustee. We talk about next steps, shake hands, and I am back in my car (aka “Blueberry”).
Back at my office, the coffee shop down the street from my place, I write up some emails to current trustees and see how they are doing and if they have talked to any of their entrepreneurs who may need Zip Loans. I answer back to all my emails from my Zip team and enjoy a chai latte. I really have to cut back on my chai lattes.
After a quick call with a borrower whose loan is live and see how outreach is going for them, I pack up my office and head home. It’s 630pm and I am ready to watch the Food Network; I have to see what Guy is up to on Diners, Dine-ins, and Dives.
Through the Kiva Fellowship I really hope to gain a better understanding of what a lot of small and local businesses need to thrive in their community. Working in Oakland, a place that I once knew not that much about, is a city that I am growing to love and appreciate. There are so many hidden gems and I hope to be able to share them with the Kiva Community. A community thrives when its neighbors come out and support itself and I really hope to empower more borrowers and trustees to create a stronger network for all! know that I will be fueled to do whatever I can to support Oakland and let it not be overshadowed by its older sibling, San Francisco! Stay tuned for my blog about the perks of beng in Oakland!
For those of you who are interested in becoming a Kiva Fellow, especially in the US, I suggest you check out: http://www.kiva.org/fellows