Monday, June 6, 2011

Kiva Ecosystem :: Borrower

The reason for Kiva's success is no secret. Kiva has seen such amazing growth thanks to involvement from such a large, vibrant community of participants. At Kiva, we like to call this our 'Ecosystem'. The Kiva Ecosystem is made up of infinite components. We have chosen 10 contributors of the Ecosystem that we think give a great view into some special parts of how Kiva works. This post will look into the life of a Kiva Borrower - read this post to learn more about what it is like to be an entrepreneur taking a loan from Kiva lenders!

Susmita Lo is a member of BPW Patan in Nepal and lives in Dolchowki. Here is her story, told by a Kiva Fellow, Claudine Emeott.

Dolchowki is the most remote village where BPW Patan operates, and a trip to Dulchowki on public buses is a nine-hour round trip affair. Buses from Patan wind their way up high, narrow roads with hairpin turns, meaning that a window seat is both a blessing and a curse: soak in the stunning scenery, but don’t look down.

The bumpy and harrowing ride is well worth it, as Dulchowki is one of the most stunning spots in Nepal. In the lower hills, clusters of homes hug the ridges.

As the road climbs higher, the homes become sparser, with the hills giving way to lush, green terraces. Agriculture dominates the landscape, and people in Dulchowki mainly grow staple grains such as wheat and corn.

Dulchowki residents grind corn to make a porridge called dhindo. Susmita and our other hosts in the village treated us to a late-morning meal of dhindo and curried vegetables.

Susmita lives on a small farm perched on a hill.

Following Nepal tradition, Susmita lives with her husband’s extended family. Her husband lives far away as a “guest worker” in Malaysia and in his absence, his family has become her own, including this grandmother shown below.

Everyone has a hand in farm work. The family cultivates a small plot of land and raise dairy goats, including this three day-old baby shown below.

In addition to working on her family’s farm, Susmita started a business of her own – this little store where she sells local grains, packaged food, and other basic sundries.

Her Kiva loan helped her buy additional stock for her store, allowing her to earn more income with her expanded offerings. As Susmita says, this loan has encouraged her to work much harder. She is proud of her business and what her own income does for her entire family. This includes sending her two sons to a good private school instead of the nearby government school that only goes up to fifth grade. Although Susmita’s Kiva lenders may seem impossibly far away (forget internet access in Dolchowki -- cell phone reception is unreliable at best), the impact of their loan is very real.