A Kiva Update & The New T2T Lending Team

Solola Guatemala - Kiva Fellowship
Enjoying some refreshments while visiting with Kiva borrowers in their potato fields outside Sololá

It’s been two months since I arrived in Guatemala and kicked off my adventure with Kiva.org, so I wanted to take a minute to update you on my experience thus far and introduce you to my latest initiative.

My primary task here in Sololá has been to work with a new microfinance partner and help them go from “pilot” to “active” status within the Kiva system. This consists of policy and procedure training, as well as monitoring borrower profiles and financial reporting.

Basically, I’m the “boots on the ground” for Kiva to ensure that the microfinance institution is legit, and I help facilitate the development of their relationship together.

The ultimate goal of my fellowship is to maximize the number of qualified borrowers available for funding on the Kiva.org site and help entrepreneurs get the loans they need to develop their business.

Okay, so that’s the technical side of things, but the most fulfilling aspect of this experience so far has been the opportunity I’ve had to meet and converse with so many of these business owners directly.

I’ve been able to travel around Guatemala’s Western Highlands and Pacific Coast to interact with over 48 individuals, from the ages of 18 to 70, who seek Kiva loans to fund their businesses.

From farmers and textile manufacturers to shoe salesmen and grocery stores owners, I’ve cherished the time I’ve spent in their homes and workshops, listening to their individual stories and goals.

Solola Guatemala - Kiva Fellowship - Borrower Group
A quick photo op after meeting the lovely women of a Kiva borrower group who make traditional clothing

It has been so inspiring to see how Kiva plays such a positive role in the development of these people’s lives, that it sparked me to get involved on another level.

I decided to start the “Tourist2Townie.com & Friends” Kiva Lending Team to bring people together to help fund borrowers across the globe.

Here’s where you come in…

I want you to join the team. With the strength of a team, we can pool our resources together to directly impact people’s lives by supporting their business endeavors.

Once you join the team, you can see who I’ve made loans to and you can choose to make a loan to the same people, or choose a borrower that interests you (in the name of the group).

There are entrepreneurs all around the world that just need a little push to develop their business and we can be that force!

Think of it as a kick-ass, feel-good microloan shark group!

Note: This isn’t a donation, it is a loan. Therefore, your $25 investment will be paid back to you when the loan gets repaid and then you can pull out or re-invest it with the team.

Kiva Borrower Search Screenshot
This is a screenshot from the Kiva "Lending Page" where you can see borrower profiles to choose from

Here’s how you get started…


  1. Become a Kiva Lender – Register with your basic information.
  2. Add Funds – $25 is the going rate for changing people’s lives.
  3. Join the “Tourist2Townie.com & Friends” Lending Team
    1. Go to the “Community” page on Kiva.org
    2. Search for the lending team in the field next to “Search for a lending team”
    3. Once you find the “Tourist2Townie.com & Friends” lending team click “Join Team”
  4. Lend via our Lending Team – Whenever you lend, you have the opportunity to count that loan toward the team. Here’s how:
    1. Click on the “Lend” button at the top of the Kiva home page. You will automatically be taken to the entrepreneurs in need
    2. When you find an entrepreneur that you would like to fund either click “Lend $25” to quickly lend $25, or click the name of the entrepreneur and then select the amount you would like to fund from the drop-down box and click “Lend”
    3. Add additional loans to your basket or click “Loan Added! Checkout”
    4. You’ll be taken to your basket where you can select the “Tourist2Townie.com & Friends” lending team
    5. When you’re finished, click “Continue”

This is the first time I’ve created a “lending team” myself, so if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Let’s see how many people we can empower together, especially during the holiday season!


More Information:

How Kiva Works?

Lending Team FAQ

Read my posts on the Kiva Fellowship Blog:

7 Tips on How to Infiltrate Your MFI

The Hunt for Great Borrowers

Smitten from the Field

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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