Monday, July 30, 2012

Two Kivans in Kenya: The journey begins

Hello from Nairobi! Allow us to introduce ourselves.

We are Liz Nagle and Buckley White, two Kiva employees who are trying out something new. We've come to Nairobi to blog, tweet, film, interview, and record the Kiva field experience for you, our Kiva lenders. 

One of Kiva's goals is to increase the connection between lenders and borrowers. While Kiva can't bring our lenders into the field to see our partners, borrowers, and the places they operate first hand, we hope to be your proxy. Neither of us are microfinance professionals (Liz works in Review & Translation and Buckley works in Marketing), so we will experience Kenya much as you would on a field visit. 

We're here for a week, and what a week we have planned. We'll be posting updates to the Kiva blog throughout the week; and you can also follow us on Twitter by searching for hashtag #kivatrip.

Here's our tentative schedule:

Monday (7/30): Visiting SMEP to learn about their water loans and to meet borrowers. 

Tuesday (7/31): LIVE STREAM with Strathmore University students. This is at 5:30pm Nairobi (3:30pm BST / 10:30am EDT / 7:30am PDT) and you'll be able to watch a conversation between Kiva borrowers and lenders in real time on YouTube. Check the Kiva Twitter account for the link when the conversation starts.

Wednesday (8/1): Top Secret. Visiting a non-traditional partner that's coming online in a few weeks. We'll post about it after we're back and they're live.

Thursday (8/2): Juhudi's Muranga branch to learn about their dairy cow loans and talk with borrowers and Juhudi staff.

Friday (8/3): Kiva Nairobi. Did you know Nairobi is Kiva's biggest foreign presence? We'll be meeting with Kiva staff and fellows in Nairobi, and there are rumors of a goat roast.

Beyond our official schedule, we're also playing tourist, meeting new people, trying to get a feel for what Nairobi and Kenya are like from the point of view of two total outsiders. This is the first trip to sub-Saharan Africa for both of us, and we want to transmit our experience to you with no filter.

Find us on Twitter by searching for #kivatrip or following Buckley's Twitter account (@buckleywhite), on Kiva's Instagram feed (@kiva_microfunds), and here on the Kiva blog. Feel free to tweet questions to us -- just please understand that mobile coverage is uneven and we may take a while to get back, but we will do our best. 

One final logistical note: this is an experiment, and we hope that you'll forgive us any hiccups along the way. We're going to try to give you an unfiltered view of our trip, so all opinions are our own and not necessarily those of Kiva, our field partners, or their staff. 

Now, to the good stuff.