Author Archive

Second Chances (Part 1)

There’s a certain amount of introspective review that happens near the end of a Kiva Fellow’s time in the field, as previous Fellows have written about self-discoveries in spirituality, competitiveness, and self-acceptance. We’ve all gained a better worldview, certainly. Witnessing extreme poverty, adjusting to life in a developing nation and participating in the small technological miracle of connecting Kiva Lenders and Borrowers can lead to some genuine soul-searching. I’ve learned an important life lesson and, at the risk of public humiliation; but ultimately hoping to a) cement this lesson to my own heart and b) encourage future Fellows, I’ll admit that due to my own ignorance and fear, I nearly missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Continue Reading 24 November 2011 at 05:15 14 comments

Pride & Poverty: A Photo Essay of Kiva Borrowers in Georgia

Ask any Kiva Fellow what the best part of their job is, and invariably you will hear, “Meeting Kiva Borrowers and hearing their stories.” It’s an incredible honor to be invited into borrowers homes and businesses to witness firsthand how a Kiva loan has helped to change and improve their lives. Spend a little time getting to know a borrower and you’ll be struck by two things- first, how amazingly hard they work and second, how proud they are to share the progress or product a Kiva loan has helped them to develop.

Continue Reading 26 October 2011 at 05:54 13 comments

Trust But Verify

By DJ Forza, KF16, Georgia

It was a gorgeous autumnal morning in Tbilisi, when we set out for Rustavi; Georgia’s third largest city. As we drove east towards Azerbaijan, I was struck by the dramatic change in scenery during our short 30 minute drive to deliver a Kiva training at one of Credo’s newest branch offices. Not only did we leave behind the verdant landscape, there were no charming cobblestone streets or European architecture to be found. Instead, we entered an urban desert and what seemed like hundreds of crumbling soviet-style cement apartment blocks and abandoned factories. The difference was shocking (and a bit depressing) to me. Georgia, of course, has many apartment blocks in every city, but Rustavi seemed to have little else, other than a used car lot and prision to complete the bleak picture.

Continue Reading 4 October 2011 at 08:22 12 comments

The Velvet Season

“You are lucky,” my taxi driver tells me. “You have arrived in the best time in Georgia!”

After two weeks here in Tbilisi, I have to agree. September to November brings The Velvet Season; when the sun is no longer scorching hot, but still warm enough to enjoy swimming, local parks and outdoor cafes without the huge summer crowds. Georgia is blessed with abundant crops of the season; apples, berries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, and of course, grapes. Did you know that Georgia claims to be the oldest wine producing region in the world? With over 500 indigenous grape varieties, wine and wine making are a huge part of Georgia’s unique culture.

Ready for the harvest!

Peak of perfection

Churchkhela- almonds and hazelnuts hand-dipped in grape must. Yum!

Chilled watermelon

Tbilisi's sulfur baths and garden

Check out Kevin Mihelic, KF12’s excellent post on Georgia’s recent economic and political struggles. The government has been working hard to attract foreign investment and progress is evident in the construction of modern buildings and upgraded services all over Tbilisi, however around 30% of all Georgian’s are living below the poverty line and much of the agriculture in Georgia is limited to subsistence farming. With approximately 55% of Georgia’s labor force working in agriculture, I was happy to learn that Kiva’s lending partner Credo has some innovative products for rural borrowers, including crop insurance loans at a ZERO percent interest rate.

A farm house near the Russian border

Georgia has yet a long way to go to stabilize its economy, but even in the aftermath of the 2008 conflict with Russia and the global financial crisis, conditions in Georgia are slowly improving. Corruption is a thing of the past. Clean water systems and electricity (at least in the capital city of Tbilisi) have been modernized. My taxi driver friend was right- I am lucky to be here at this time. Come November, the icy winter winds may blow, but I hope The Velvet Season, and a time of warm growth, continues in Georgia for a long time to come.
Fishing on the Mtkvari river

Fishing on the Mtkvari river

DJ Forza is a Kiva Fellow working with Credo in Tbilisi, Georgia. To learn more, please visit Credo’s partner page, join the Georgia lending team, and keep an eye out for Georgian loans on

12 September 2011 at 08:51 19 comments

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