Friday, April 9, 2010

Kiva Lending Team Captain Says "Howdy!"

Maria Morrissey is captain of the Kiva Austin Lending Team. The group of 453 "big-hearted Texans" has made more than 4,000 loans to Kiva entrepreneurs. They're proud to be the #1 city lending team for total lending. Here, Maria shares her thoughts on Team Austin below.

How did your team get started?

In September of 2008, I'd been a member of Kiva for a couple of years when I saw a message on the Kiva home page about a new feature called 'teams.' I was away from my home in Austin for grad school and terribly homesick, and I thought forming an Austin team would be a good way to connect other socially conscious Austinites into microlending through Kiva.

How many members does your lending team have and how has it grown?

Almost immediately after I started Team Austin, team members were emailing me to see if we could meet once a month over coffee. We began having regular 'Second Saturday' meetups at Dominican Joe's, a socially conscious coffee house in Austin, once I was back home in Austin. The coffee meetups help us network, learn about members' other community service interests, and brainstorm about ways to promote Kiva and Kiva Austin. Although we have set up at a few events with our banner and some handouts, the team seems to just grow organically. Since forming in September of 2008, Kiva Austin has grown to 453 members.

What made you want to become Team Captain?

Just a strong desire to help promote microlending and connect with other socially conscious Austinites.

What makes your team unique?

Team Austin is currently the #1 city team for total loaned among all local area Kiva lending teams.

What's the most meaningful aspect of your experience as Kiva Team Captain?

I'm very proud to be the leader of such a generous and enthusiastic team of microlenders. It was also very exciting to be a part of Kiva's participation in SXSW Interactive. I was honored to be a nominee for the 2010 SXSW Dewey Winburne Award for Community Service.

Receiving the award gave me an opportunity to participate in the conference (i.e. a free badge) and meet Skylar Woodward, help out with TheGood Capitalist party by organizing a small troop of Kiva Austin volunteers, and meet more members of Team Austin like Susan Savkov and her husband Andrei, who volunteer as Kiva translators.

Many thanks to Maria Morrissey, Kiva Austin Lending Team Captain. We wish her and the team the best as they continue to grow and support entrepreneurs around the world. To read more about Kiva at SXSW in Austin, click here and also here!