Monday, April 23, 2012

Featured Volunteer: Victoria Lazarova

“My hope is that each day before I go to bed, I play a small part in improving the lives of five strangers somewhere around the globe.”

City: Oak Bluffs, MA

Language: English

Team: Only the Loanly

Time with Kiva: Since August 2011

Outstanding Contributions to Kiva: Since joining the team, Victoria has become a high performer and a regular contributor on the Volunteer Forum. Her efforts to help other volunteers puzzle out policy and terminology questions are greatly appreciated by the Kiva team. On top of all that, she has made the list of Top 10 Editors for six months running!

How did you find out about Kiva?

I am a big fan of a website called that sends you to random and wonderful sites based on preselected interests. I stumbled upon an article in which Kiva caught my attention. As a community banker by occupation, I have innate interests and take great pride in serving local communities and small businesses. I followed the link, read some of the borrower profiles and the rest is history. I became a lender right away and in August of last year, an active volunteer with Kiva.

Why did you choose to volunteer your time with Kiva?
I have always wanted to do some volunteer work but my job and graduate school kept me busy and my schedule did not allow me to dedicate time during the day. Kiva seemed the perfect fit for the "modern volunteer", someone who needs flexibility yet desires to contribute. To be a banker in the US these days is not always viewed in the most positive way. This was one way for me to show our dedication and involvement. Furthermore, the concept of microfinance and the impact of such organizations like Grameen Bank had always been of great interest to me and I thought it was the perfect fit.
From where do you typically review loans?
After a long day, dinner and some play with my dog Lily, I usually sit in bed with my laptop and make sure that I edit at least five loans. My hope is that each day before I go to bed, I play a small part in improving the lives of five strangers somewhere around the globe.

What is your favorite partner or region?

I find all regions with Kiva partners very compelling but have a soft spot for people from Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. They appear to live in difficult climate conditions and yet persevere. I also love women groups from areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their colorful outfits, somehow in contradiction with the seriousness of their faces, seem to provide a glimpse into their lives in a beautiful way.
Tell us about a memorable profile you have encountered.

I had lent to a woman from the Philippines who was a widow with 9 children. She ran 2 businesses and was considering a third. This was something like her 20th loan and she had managed to survive as a result of the support she had been given. It struck me that she was originally making $1 per day and was expecting to double that. Can you imagine the significance of being given the chance to double one’s income?

Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?

I wish I could say that I have traveled to exotic places but my travels have been limited to Europe and North America. I have always loved Paris and I now have a new favorite, Barcelona, where I went on a trip with my mother last summer. I am fascinated by its cultural and architectural heritage and the vibrancy of its people, as well as how modern day life was so skillfully incorporated into the legacy of its great artists.

Tell us an unusual or surprising fact about yourself.

In my spare time, I am a professor's assistant teaching part time in Boston University's Graduate School of Management program online. I also have a vintage clothing and accessories store called Vintagiality on It has allowed me to gain an even greater appreciation for Kiva borrowers and the difficulties of running a small business, even when I don't depend on it for my livelihood and I do it more as a hobby in the context of a well-developed economy.

By Alicia Silverstein, Review and Translation Program Intern
Photo provided by Victoria Lazarova, Volunteer Editor