All in a weekend’s work: Trade fairs and certificate ceremonies
By Amber Barger, KF13, Mongolia.
Recently, I was able to travel to the countryside and combine many of my Kiva Fellow duties into one trip. With XacBank, I traveled to Uvurkhangai and Bayankhongor Provinces together with the Kiva Coordinator. We interviewed Kiva entrepreneurs, attended trade fairs, trained loan officers, and participated in a very special certificate ceremony – all in four days!
Uvurkhangai was having their large annual trade fair that attracts hundreds of small businesses from the area and thousands of customers to one central location at the town’s theater. The branch employees introduced us to the Kiva entrepreneurs who had booths at the trade fair. Some were selling vegetables, others traditional boots, and others handicrafts. I had a very enjoyable time in Uvurkhangai, because it’s where I used to live and I met many of my friends.
In Bayankhongor, the branch employees had organized a special trade fair and certificate ceremony for the Kiva entrepreneurs. The event was held at Bayankhongor theater auditorium and Kiva entrepreneurs were able to sell their goods at small tables. New and old clients came to listen to information about Kiva, borrowers shared their stories of success, and here’s the best part… We handed out certificates to the recent entrepreneurs who earned a savings account through XacBank for being on schedule with their Kiva loan payments! Click here for more information about XacBank’s Kiva-related savings product.
At each of the branch offices, the Kiva Coordinator and I refreshed the loan officers about Kiva processes and answered their questions. We played a game involving the circular order of the Kiva loan process, and handed out candy to the team who had the most correct answer. The trainings answered more in-depth questions that the loan officers and branch directors had that they weren’t able to ask before our visit.
In both Bayankhongor and Uvurkhangai, I interviewed specific Kiva entrepreneurs who were part of the borrower verification process, plus a few more. I was checking to make sure that the information listed on the Kiva website is true. I asked them very in depth questions about their businesses, checked their repayment schedules and inquired as to if they knew they were on the Kiva website. Feel free to read journal updates for two of the entrepreneurs, Chimed and Munhchimeg, whom I met on this trip.
In addition to our Kiva duties, we still found time to see interesting sights on our countryside trip. In Uvurkhangai, we visited the Horse Monument, and in Bayankhongor, we visited the natural hot springs and the dinosaur park! The XacBank staff in the countryside was so welcoming and accommodating during our visit. I’m always pleasantly surprised at the kind hospitality that is shown to guests in this country.
All of these fun and interesting activities happened within just four days of each other. There’s such a variety of activities within a Kiva Fellowship. If you think that any of the activities that I explained above sound interesting – the interviews, trade fairs, trainings – I’d like to encourage you to apply for a Kiva Fellowship!
Amber Barger is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow in Mongolia. She has lived for the past two years in rural Mongolia as a community economic development Peace Corps Volunteer. Along with her Kiva Fellowship, she is extending a third year with the Peace Corps as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader.