Monday, November 28, 2011

Latin American and Caribbean Field Partner Summit

Every year for the past four years the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Portfolio Team here at Kiva hosts an annual summit with our Field Partners in the region to discuss relevant topics, share successes and concerns, and have a little fun as well. This year the conference was held in San Jose, Costa Rica and included 45 people representing about 20 Field Partners. Representatives from Kiva included: Giovanna Masci, Tim Hassett, Naomi Baer, Cynthia McMurry, Nicolas Lafaye, Lindsey Freedman, and Betsy McCormick. The LAC Kiva Summit took place the Sunday before a major regional microfinance conference so representatives from our Field Partners were able to attend both. The Kiva staff members reported that all 45 participants arrived early Sunday morning with an incredible amount of enthusiasm to share their stories and talk about their Kiva experiences!

Giovanna Masci, Regional Director - The Americas, speaking at the Summit

Topics for the day included sharing successes and challenges over the last year, how Kiva measures social performance and how that may affect our Field Partners, and innovative ways Field Partners are taking advantage of the catalytic power of Kiva funds. Among some of the more interesting successes were MiCredito from Nicaragua and Interactuar from Colombia. Kiva’s low cost and risk tolerant capital allows MiCredito to provide an innovative agriculture loan product. The product was designed for students of an agriculture university and allows them to buy the materials for their first plot of land, including farm animals, crops, etc. The hope is that the loan will not only provide students with hands-on training, but also teach them good credit management skills from a young age. Interactuar has developed an incredibly strong model of providing very high quality, professional training courses and one on one technical assistance to low-income entrepreneurs in the Antioquia region of Colombia. Their training facilities provide entrepreneurs with real-life training experiences in a variety of fields including gastronomy, cosmetology, small scale tourism and hotel operations, small grocery store management, and administration and systems management. Entrepreneurs are trained by experts in a simulated business environment.

Representatives from 20 Field Partners at the LAC Summit

Throughout the workshop Field Partner representatives shared stories and gave presentations about what works best for their specific lending goals, clientele and regions. They shared how they have overcome the technical challenges of working with Kiva, and asked questions about how others set up the infrastructure for Kiva operations. The LAC Summit has become an additional resource for our partners by connecting MFIs with each other so that they can share best practices. Our Field Partners have formed relationships with colleagues they would otherwise not have access to, and are able to collaborate on common points of interest that are specific to working with Kiva. Bringing our Field Partners together for region summits is one of the many ways Kiva works to support the on-going success and innovation of our Field Partners.

Betsy McCormick, Field Support Specialist - North America, Central America and The Caribbean, presenting at the LAC Summit

If you would like to support a borrower from one of our Latin American or Caribbean Field Partners head over to our Lend page and choose a dynamic entrepreneur today!