When asked whether the fellowship helped them in finding their current role, the majority of fellows reply “Yes!” Below are the stories of four Kiva Fellows who used their time in the field to share their expertise, gain experience in a new field, launch a new career, or to give back to others in need. Where will a Kiva Fellowship take you?
SHARE YOUR SUCCESS: “For no good reason, I won the life lottery (like many of my peers in the developed world), which helped me start and sell a successful company. But there are plenty of other entrepreneurs across the globe who didn’t win that lottery. There’s no reason why I couldn’t have been one of them.” Alexis Ohanian retired from running his wildly successful website, reddit.com, in order to serve a 3 month Kiva Fellowship in Yerevan, Armenia. As he wrote during his fellowship, “I see microfinance as a way to export the best of capitalism to give many of the world’s poor a chance to create their own futures.”
KICKSTART A NEW ADVENTURE: After ten years experience in strategic planning and retail management, Carrie spent three months in Khujand, Tajikistan meeting entrepreneurs and small business owners. After years of being inspired by “the power of communities to organize and promote their own development,” Carrie decided to dive into the world of social entrepreneurship. Carrie co-founded Stockbox Grocers, which places small-format neighborhood grocery stores throughout Seattle, in an effort to “promote healthy communities by improving access to fresh produce and grocery staples in urban food deserts.” She credits her work in international development as a key factor leading to her social entrepreneurism. In 2012, Stockbox Grocers received the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship.
DITCH THE CORPORATE WORLD: Patrick Seeton served his fellowship in Kenya while on a six month sabbatical from a corporate finance position in Vancouver. After three months in the field working with Kiva and his field partner, SMEP DTM, to provide profitable sanitation services in Nairobi, Patrick was hooked. “Pivot. The word struck us all. I think most Kiva Fellows are in the middle of a pivot, be it going back to school, taking a break from work or like myself, pivoting the direction of their career.” After leaving his corporate job behind, Patrick was officially hired by Sanergy. He currently lives in Nairobi, serving as Sanergy’s Vice President of Finance.
LEND THE WORLD A HAND: After a successful internship at Kiva HQ, Charlotte served her fellowship in New Orleans, helping to rebuild communities after Hurrican Katrina. Already a globe-trotter, Charlotte used her fellowship to gain more experience volunteering internationally. She recently completed her fourth trip building houses abroad with Habitat for Humanity. She has built houses in Bahir Dah, Ethiopia; Pondicherry, India; Ndola, Zambia; and Bungoma, Kenya. When she isn’t traveling with Habitat for Humanity, she sits on the board of a local non-profit, Curry Without Worry.