Hi! This February, I am going to be starting a Kiva fellowship in Nairobi, Kenya and I need your help funding this unpaid volunteer fellowship. Kiva is a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. To learn more about Kiva, check out http://nessainkenya.wordpress.com/about/ and http://www.kiva.org/about.
For the next four months, I will be working with three of Kiva's field partners in Nairobi to help maximize Kiva's effectiveness and to increase the number of loans given out to students and entrepreneurs in Kenya. I will be working with Strathmore University, Faulu Kenya and SMEP. My work with these three organizations will help to ensure that more Kenyans are able to attend university and that more entrepreneurs will be able to start or improve their businesses. Support my fellowship and be a part of the microfinance solution!
So, how did a girl from Queens, NY become interested in dedicating 4-12 months of her life to Kiva and microfinance? Good question! I first became interested in microfinance and the concepts of peer lending while volunteering with a program called Young Women Enterprising Women (YWEW) at the YWCA in downtown Pittsburgh while at Carnegie Mellon University. YWEW gave low and middle income women the tools they needed to start their own businesses through an entrepreneurial class and access to a peer lending group. Witnessing the empowerment that comes with increased access to credit, I became convinced that entrepreneurship and microfinance can enable any individual to improve their life. It was not until I studied abroad in Uganda and Rwanda and learned more about microfinance that I saw its power for international development.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, I taught Pre-Kindergarten in Washington D.C. through Teach for America. Living and teaching in D.C. secured my belief that knowledge is power. A quality education can enable anyone, regardless of situation, to improve their life trajectory. Knowledge and a quality education are not guarantees. Kiva, through it's partnership with Strathmore University, hopes to increase the number of people who are able to receive a quality advanced degree by offering full tuition loans to students who otherwiscape would not have had the financial capability to attend university. I am eager to witness the power of combining microfinance and education
Knowledge and education are one key part of the puzzle that is opportunity; access to credit is the next piece of this puzzle. Faulu and SMEP are traditional microfinance institutions which offer micro loans to clients who have traditionally been left out of the financial system. I look forward to learning a great deal from all of the organizations I will be working with, while contributing my experience and training in order to increase their potential.
What I Will be Doing- My Impact
While in Nairobi, I will be working with three different and amazing organizations. For the majority of my fellowship, I will be working with Strathmore University. Strathmore is Kiva's first non-traditional partner specializing in student loans. I will be helping Strathmore launch their Kiva program in order to offer full-tuition loans to students. These loans will enable Kenyans, who otherwise might not have the opportunity due to financial constraints, to attend university in Nairobi. I will be an integral part of getting this much needed program off the ground and running in order to ensure more students have access to higher education. [http://www.strathmore.edu/News.php?NewsID=753]
In addition, I will be working with Faulu Kenya to help them serve their 250,000 clients throughout Kenya. While working with Faulu, I will be helping to continue the strong partnership Faulu has with Kiva by getting more of their clients on Kiva.org and increasing the information that lenders receive about Faulu's borrowers and their entrepreneurial successes. Faulu's clients range from electronics saleswomen to farmers and Faulu provides loans and financial services to meet their needs. [http://www.kiva.org/partners/142]
Lastly, I will also working with SMEP (Small and Micro Enterprise Programme), whose main objective is to alleviate poverty by empowering those
who are economically marginalized. SMEP is one of the premier MFIs in Kenya. SMEP's clients range from retail sales men and women to transportation providers. I look forward to helping them best provide services to their clients and ensuring their borrowers' effective use of the loans they receive through Kiva. [http://www.kiva.org/partners/138]
What I Need and Where Your Money is Going
Funding a fellowship does not come cheap and Nairobi is one of the more expensive capital cities in sub-Saharan Africa. Your donations will help me offset some of the costs of doing this. The cost of moving abroad and working on a volunteer basis are expansive and include such items as:
An example of some of the costs of the fellowship in Nairobi include:
- $700-$1000 for a flight home from Nairobi [my flight to Nairobi and my round trip flight to San Francisco for training were purchased using generously donated miles]
- $400-$600 for a secure roof over my head for one month
-$100-$250 for vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs
- $20-$35 a week for matatu buses and taxis to commute to and from work [only taxis are recommended to commute after dark]
- $100 entry visa into Kenya
- $30 approximate cost of cellphone minutes and internet cafes for one month
All funds raised towards my goal will be used to help lessen the personal financial burden of this fellowship.
Five Reasons Why You Should Donate to my Fellowship Funds
You may be asking yourself why you might want to donate to my fellowship, and I thought of a few pretty good reasons:
- I work very hard. If you know me, you know that I am dedicated to the people I am working with and the organizations and causes I am working for. I truly believe in the transformative power microfinance holds in breaking the cycle of poverty; thus, I am driven to see the organizations I will be working with succeed. If you don't know me, here's one example of my determination: In D.C. I taught 3,4 and five year old students everything from how to read, write, and count to how to use the bathroom and how to be good friends. If you have taught any of these things, you know how much relentless determination and patience goes into it. I will use these and all the skills I honed through teaching and past leadership experiences in order to deliver results for Kiva, Strathmore University, Faulu and SMEP in Nairobi.
This is a direct way for you to be involved with my
fellowship without having to personally deal with the occasional
electricity shortage, bucket shower or pit latrine. You can live vicariously and safely through my blogging and know that your money helped make an impact.
- Transparency and Honesty. There are many organizations out there working towards making the world a better, more just place but, when donating to these organizations, you may never know where your money is going, nor do you consistently get to see exactly what your hard earned dollars are being used for. I will be consistently documenting who your money is impacting through blogs, photos, and videos. Your money will go directly to the costs I incur through my fellowship. It will only be used for my basic necessities, it will not be used for any additional travel or entertainment. And if you have any questions, you know where to find me. [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Incentives! I myself am a sucker for incentives/prizes so, I thought of a few things to make fundraising a bit more interesting. [see right side panel]
- With your support and my on the ground presence we can work together to help alleviate poverty in the developing world.
Be Involved and Stay Informed about my Fellowship!Follow my fellowship blog at www.nessainkenya.wordpress.com ! I will be busy working with the three wonderful organizations I mentioned above, follow along! Share my blog and this page with all your friends and family. The more people who share this page, the more likely it will be featured on IndieGoGo's home page.
Spread the word about Kiva.org and my fellowship with Kiva! The more people who know about the work that Kiva.org is doing to empower and help students and entrepreneurs achieve their goals of educational and financial independence, the more potential there is for success. Lend to a borrower on kiva.org and tell your friends all about it!
Lastly, help fund my volunteer fellowship to Nairobi. I truly appreciate any donation you are able to make. I believe that the work I will be doing will enable so many more people to have access to the education and the credit which they deserve. Be a part of the microfinance solution by supporting my work in Nairobi.
I Kiva because I do not believe that the situation in which you are born should determine your entire life trajectory. Check out why some past Kiva fellows kiva: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwLvP2wKTB4&...;