Kiva Love Tour: Honduras 2011
By Sandra Pina, KF16, Honduras
The Kiva Love Tour wrapped up about a month ago here in Honduras. I headlined the 3-week tour which was co-sponsored by Kiva and ODEF Financiera. Each of the 26 venues (read: branches) were sold out and I dazzled (yes, I dazzled) concert-goers. I’m relieved to write that the reviews were mostly positive. Keep reading for the full recap.
For me, it was the Kiva Love Tour, but for everyone else involved – loan officers, branch managers, and Kiva Coordinators – it was just an “Introduction to Kiva” training. Kiva Love Tour sounds infinitely more appealing, doesn’t it?
Kiva’s new partnership with ODEF began in September and as ODEF’s very first fellow, I was tasked with helping them implement Kiva. ODEF management was immediately onboard and eager that I spread the “Kiva Love” and enthusiasm to loan officers and branch managers. A tour was proposed and soon after, tour dates were confirmed.
The “concert” was an hour long, informal jam session complete with a powerpoint presentation and handouts. I covered the classics: “This is Kiva,” “This is how Kiva works,” “This is where you fit in,” and “This is what ODEF needs from you.” Most loan officers really dug the music but there were a few that were less than pleased about the extra work. Loan officers are integral to the Kiva model. They collect the information used to generate profile descriptions and the journal updates (business and personal info, loan use, hopes and dreams, etc.) and they snap the borrower’s photo. So in addition to finding clients, assessing applications and completing due diligence, ODEF loan officers will now be required to conduct interviews with potential Kiva borrowers after loans have been disbursed, take pictures, and conduct follow-up interviews. Kiva means extra time and extra paperwork for loan officers, but it also means ODEF will have the funding to extend financial services to more entrepreneurs.
It was an interactive experience where I politely forced loan officers to rehearse explaining Kiva to a borrower. This can be a bit more complicated than you think – just imagine all the potential hiccups and borrower reactions. We rehearsed a few scenarios including, the borrower has no idea what internet is, a borrower with privacy concerns, and the belligerent borrower. My goal was to convince loan officers of the awesomeness that is Kiva so they would be more inclined (and capable) of explaining Kiva to borrowers and convincing them to appear on the site.
Post-show crowd participation varied. In some branches the Q&A session lasted longer than the concert and the dialogues were incredibly dynamic. The most common questions were: But what do Kiva lenders get? Who are Kiva lenders? Can I be a Kiva Borrower? How do I become a lender? Why do we charge interest, if funding from Kiva is interest-free? What are the benefits for the borrowers? Why should they agree to appear on the site? While in other branches, my performance was followed by silence and a Thanks, we got it. Can we go back to work nowstare. Not to worry readers, like any true performer, I didn’t take it personally.
Some were quick to share anecdotes and stories about the job and interesting borrowers in their portfolios. Given the incredibly high rate of delinquency, it was no surprise that the majority of loan officers had been robbed multiple times (often at gun point) while in the field visiting clients. I can’t say enough about the tremendous work they do. They are extreme multi-taskers, customer service reps, map makers (street signs are scarce here) and investigators. They are, to put it simply, phenomenal.
I had post-performance wrap-up sessions with my tour manager Perla (also ODEF’s Co-Kiva Coordinator) on the tour bus (read: Nissan Frontier). Often we were buzzing with excitement, but there were instances where we worried that the loan officers didn’t really get the message. The bus was our war room on wheels. We strategized, refined our delivery and continually improved the show. We logged substantial hours (and kilometers) on the bus. By the end of the tour, we were both so worn out that Perla introduced me as “Sandra Kiva from the Pina organization” and I had a laughing fit that lasted too long, generating a great deal of confusion and concern among loan officers in Tocoa. I think sleep deprivation and exhaustion were to blame, but, I just went with it: Sandra Kiva works for me.
How effective was the love tour? Given the costs (gas, food, time, materials, did I mention time?), was the tour an effective way of prepping loan officers on their Kiva duties? Good questions. Well, it took a few weeks for the branches to begin sending profiles in to the main office for processing (i.e. to be posted onto Kiva’s system: PA2). The profiles were a mixed bag; some were colorful and overflowing with detail while others were dry and lacked even the essential bits of information (for example age or loan use). Generally speaking, the branches that were more engaged during the training, submitted higher quality profiles.
It has been quite frustrating to receive incomplete profiles and pictures of borrowers posing with loan officers. There were moments of disbelief and self-doubt – maybe we weren’t clear enough. There were dozens of follow-up calls and emails in October reinforcing the documents we needed, how they should be filled out and submitted to the Kiva Coordinators (“KCs”). In October, the KCs received an average of 5 profiles from 15 branches. In November they received an average of 4 profiles form 21 branches. We’re making progress! Pictures are improving, interview forms are arriving complete and the KCs are having to make fewer follow-up calls. There’s still work to do, but the KCs are optimistic. Thus far, Kiva lenders have funded 100 ODEF entrepreneurs for a total of $55,025 lent. I’d like to think, we’re doing something right!
Would I do it again? You bet I would. It was a phenomenal way to experience Honduras and see the communities ODEF serves. Kiva Love was spread far and wide, I received a stellar stage name, and my tour manager and I are on BFFL status. I couldn’t be more pleased. So dear readers, I challenge you to go on your own Kiva Love Tour and spread that Kiva Love.
Previous Posts by Sandra Pina:
Entry filed under: Americas, Honduras, KF16 (Kiva Fellows 16th Class). Tags: blogsherpa, Honduras, KF16, Kiva, Kiva Fellows, Kiva Love Tour, loan officer training, ODEF Financiera, Sandra Pina, Travel.