Archive for May, 2009

to be a Kiva Fellow

For those of you who may not know, my name is Shereef Zaki and I have just resigned from two steady and reliable jobs in order to become a Kiva Fellow. Kiva ( is the world’s first person-to-person microlending website, connecting lenders around the world with entrepreneurs in developing countries. As opposed to being a charity, it helps people help themselves by giving them access to financial capital and creating a global community of business partners. As a result of these partnerships people can free themselves from the  indignities of poverty.

During my late teens and early twenties I traveled through North, Central and South America and repeatedly witnessed the tragic struggles of families, communities and in some cases countries as they attempted to lift themselves out of destitution. I saw external agencies and consultants dictate models and methods of growth, give handouts and unavoidably fail to make a sustained difference.

Kiva is different because it allows individuals to directly empower other individuals. After returning from Fellow’s training in San Francisco, I am more convinced than ever that I am stepping onto the right path — that my actions, with your support, will make a difference.

In my role as a Kiva Fellow, I will represent Kiva at a partner institution in South America this winter and then in the Middle East this spring. Resources lent via Kiva pass through a Microfinance Institution (MFI) which then physically disperses the funds to the borrower. I will work with an MFI to ensure that they are following all Kiva procedures. More importantly, I will be working to strengthen the connection between lenders and borrowers by meeting with the entrepreneurs and writing journals so that you can follow their progress.

As a measure of commitment to both Kiva and the mission of alleviating global poverty, a Kiva Fellow must receive funding externally. In other words, I receive no stipend. I intend to use part of my savings to facilitate my work. I believe this cause is just and am asking you to contribute in one of the following ways.

  1. Contribute to my fellowship before April 30, 2010 and help me reach my goal of $7,500
  2. Become a lender and join my lending team
  3. Most importantly, send this link to your personal and professional networks

Many people budget philanthropy into their annual spending and this is a great cause with great volunteers working to make it successful. In exchange for your support, I will keep this page updated with stories as well as a monthly photojournal. The first slideshow from Fellow’s Training is below!

If you are able to do any or all of the above, feel confident in the fact that you are playing a meaningful and substantive role in the fight against poverty.

05.18.09 – Kiva Fellows Training in San Francisco

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