Who Can Be a Kiva Fellow?

Who is your typical Kiva Fellow?
Kiva encourages applicants with substantial cross-cultural immersion experience and backgrounds in business, finance, international development, community engagement, outreach, and consulting to apply. As the program expands, there are many diverse kinds of Kiva Fellows. Not only does the fellowship vary in where the fellows serve, but also in the nature of their work. That said, Kiva has accepted applicants with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences: MBAs, film-makers, professionals transitioning careers, lawyers, public policy researchers, consultants, financial planners, firefighters, engineers and former US soldiers are among the program alumni. Ages range from the minimum of 21 through 60+ years old.
I am not a US citizen - can I be a fellow?
Absolutely! Kiva Fellows must, however, speak fluent English.
I am 20 years old and will be 21 in a few months--can I be a fellow now?
Happy almost-birthday! We will be delighted to receive your application after your 21st birthday. We cannot accept fellows younger than 21.
What is the average age of a Kiva Fellow?
Approximately 29 years old. However, exceptional recent graduates in their early 20's, as well as retirees in their 60's, have found success in the program.
Is this a good way to gain my first immersion abroad experience?
The most successful Kiva Fellows have already spent significant time abroad when they begin their fellowships. Applicants with less international travel experience may find a better fit serving with Kiva Zip in the United States. Because a fellowship abroad is a deep immersion experience, cultural comfort and adaptability are key to a fellow's positive experience. More prior experience abroad generally means that a fellow will have an easier time adjusting to cultural differences and diving right into the work.
Can I be a fellow with someone else?
We generally discourage applicants from applying with this type of restriction as we value flexibility in our applicants above all. We do not send multiple fellows to a single field partner at the same time, but at times we will send more than one fellow to a country or city in the United States. Since this is dependent upon many variables, we do not know until after the application process is complete whether or not it will work.
I want to bring my kids with me when I travel - can I be a fellow?
No. Our goal, always, is to strengthen our partnerships with the organizations with which we work. Kiva's field partners are on average small, growing organizations that would not be able to accommodate children in their office or while out in the field.
Can vegetarians be fellows?
Yes. But note that you may be living in countries where being "vegetarian" is a foreign concept or not well understood. We encourage you to research what other vegetarian travelers faced while in the countries where Kiva works.

What are the Kiva Fellows Program Requirements?

How long is the fellowship?
Kiva requires a minimum commitment of 16 weeks to participate in the program.
Can I go for fewer than 16 weeks?
Both Kiva and its partners invest significant resources to work with Kiva Fellows. As such, Kiva strongly favors applicants who are able to serve for at least 16 weeks. The program uses its discretion to determine whether applicants who are hoping to serve for shorter stays will be accepted.
What if I decide I want to stay in the field for longer than 16 weeks?
Kiva Fellows in the field are invited to submit extension applications to apply for an additional field placement. If accepted, the fellow will receive an additional placement to begin once the first 16-week placement is completed. While acceptance of the extension application is not guaranteed, Kiva sees the value in longer-term fellows and appreciates that more time spent in the field can lead to greater success for a Kiva Fellow. As some fellows are interested in gaining a broader understanding of microfinance, there is the option to serve with different kinds of partners and initiatives.
I am traveling in a country with a Kiva Field Partner for 2 weeks - can I be a fellow?
The Kiva Fellows Program requires a minimum 16-week commitment. The program's focus is to develop solid relationships between the Kiva Fellows and our field partners. Shorter periods are not sufficient for a Kiva Fellow to establish a beneficial working relationship.
I am going to be in a country doing a research project, can I be a Kiva Fellow?
This depends upon the nature of the research project. Please keep in mind that the Kiva Fellows Program has requirements of the participants with a specific workplan created for each fellow. It is difficult to combine the program with an ongoing project because of the time commitment required of Kiva Fellows (40+ hours/week). Please describe your specific circumstances in your application.
Where can I learn more about Kiva Zip?
Please visit the Kiva Zip site.
Where can I learn more about being a Media Fellow?
Please visit Kiva's first Media Fellow's blog here to gain a better understanding of the media fellowship. You can also find more information on the Application Guide site.

The Application Process

Where can I find the application?
The application to the Kiva Fellowship is available online on the Kiva website.
When can I apply?
We accept applications 3-6 months before the training for which you are applying. For more details, visit the Dates and Deadlines page.
What does "Preferred Training Date" mean?
The Kiva Fellows Program has three cycles of fellows annually. Each class has a mandatory 5-day training at Kiva Headquarters in San Francisco, CA. All fellows are expected to deploy to the field within two weeks of that training. Trainings for each class are typically the last week of January, May and August.
What if I'm having trouble accessing my draft application?
If you are having a technical problem with the application, please email the Kiva Fellows Program Team at kivafellows@kiva.org.
What happens after I have submitted my application?
Successful applicants undergo two rounds of interviews and will be asked to submit supplementary materials. To view the timeline for when these steps occur and details on what they entail, visit the Dates and Deadlines page.
I submitted my application; when will I hear from Kiva?
You will hear from Kiva with regards to the status of your application approximately 3-4 weeks after the application deadline associated with the training class you selected.
Can I apply a year in advance of the training class for which I'd like to be considered?
While we appreciate your desire to plan in advance, applicants may not apply more than 6 months before their desired training class.
Can I interview in person?
No. Our interviewers are located all over the world. In order to keep a level playing field, all interviews will be conducted via Skype. Video function will not be used.
Can I talk to someone about the Kiva Fellows Program?
The best way to learn more about the program is to go to the Kiva Fellows page, or Application Guide. We encourage you to gain greater context by reading the Kiva Fellows Blog, as well. If you have further questions, please email them to kivafellows@kiva.org.

Where Do Kiva Fellows Go?

Where do Kiva Fellows serve?
Fellows serving with field partners, or as media fellows, may serve in over 60 countries where our 180+ field partners are located. An exhaustive list of Kiva countries and languages can be found here and an up-to-date list of Kiva's field partners is here. Fellows serving with Kiva Zip may be placed in the United States or in our Nairobi, Kenya office. In the US, fellows are placed in key markets across the country or in a city or community in which they have existing knowledge and established relationships.
What are Kiva's priorities in terms of placing fellows? How does Kiva chose fellow placements?
There are multiple factors that we look at when matching fellows to a given placement, including language ability, professional skills, work styles. We value flexibility in all our fellows and appreciate your understanding that while preferences are taken into account, the Kiva Fellows Team will place fellows where their skills best fit our partners needs. While you will be able to list your preferences, no specific placement request is guaranteed.
Where can I go if I speak a second language?
You can see a comprehensive list of Kiva languages and countries here. While language skills are useful when working internationally, there is also a need for fellows who speak multiple languages to engage with diverse populations throughout the United States.
Where can I go if I only speak English?
In addition to the option of serving with Kiva Zip in the United States, Kiva has an extensive Anglophone portfolio available for candidates who only speak English. To see the list of countries in which English-only could suffice, click here. These countries have English as a language of business, but your ability to connect with entrepreneurs in the field will be greatly enhanced by having a few key phrases to use in these interactions. In addition, you should prepare yourself to work frequently with an interpreter. You should budget for an independent interpreter so as not to impact the field partner's resources by utilizing their staff for this purpose.
Where can I learn more about Kiva's field partners?
Please visit the Field Partners page. Please also note that not all field partners require a Kiva Fellow at any given time. Some of the microfinance institution field partners have their own websites with more detailed information. You can also check out MFI profiles on the Mix Marketplace - www.mixmarket.org/.
Can I be a fellow in a country where Kiva does not have a field partner?
There are no opportunities for Kiva Fellowships in countries that are not currently represented by Kiva field partners.
Will there be time for me to travel and sightsee while I am abroad?
Your first priority as a Kiva Fellow is to fulfill your duties as described in your workplan. Kiva and its field partners have generally been flexible regarding short breaks for travel and sightseeing, given sufficient notice and reasonable duration.
Will I be able to meet other fellows while in the field?
It is possible that you will be the only Kiva Fellow in a given country, and fellows serving with Kiva Zip are located throughout the United States. That being said, in the past Kiva Fellows have found opportunities to meet up with one another.
How is it different to be a fellow with a U.S. based field partner as opposed to a field partner elsewhere?
Most fellows placed in the US serve with Kiva Zip and are not placed with a specific field partner. They play an integral role in growing the program in the geographic area where they have been assigned. The workplans for fellows in the US are typically focused on community engagement, marketing, and public speaking.
If I live in the same city as one of Kiva's field partners, can I continue living and working here while being a fellow with Kiva?
This is highly unlikely. There are several conditions upon which such an arrangement would be contingent:
  1. 1. You would need to be accepted into the program,
  2. 2. A Field Partner near your residence would need a fellow for that cycle, and
  3. 3. You would need to possess a relevant skill set for that placement.
I'm going to be in a Kiva country, but I don't have the time or resources to contribute to an entire fellowship. What else can I do?
In order to serve as a Kiva Fellow, you must be able to commit the minimum requirements of the program. There are currently no other ways to be involved with Kiva Zip or field partners aside from the Kiva Fellows Program. However, you can still be involved with Kiva through the Review and Translation Program.

What Do Kiva Fellows Do?

What will my daily tasks be as a fellow?
There is no such thing as a typical day as a fellow. What exactly does this mean? Your daily tasks will vary depending on:
  • Stage of the partnership (new partner, existing partner, etc.);
  • Location (rural, urban, security issues, etc.);
  • Type of partner/Initiative (i.e. Zip, non-traditional, Microfinance Institution etc.);
  • Work environment (size of office, tech capacity, number of other fellows/Kiva staff in your vicinity);
  • Scope of work (field-based, office-based, content creation, etc.).
All tasks will be geared towards sustainability such that improvements you put in place will persevere beyond the completion of your fellowship. We encourage you to highlight specific tasks that are of interest to you in your application.
What are the job requirements of the fellowship?
The Kiva Fellowship is a full-time position.
Will I get to meet borrowers as a Kiva Fellow?
While it is likely you will have the opportunity to meet borrowers, it is not a guarantee. Some partners have important needs within their head or branch offices that necessitate a fellow focusing their energy on in-office work as opposed to field visits. If serving as a fellow with Kiva Zip, you will have the unique opportunity to interact with key Kiva stakeholders, such as borrowers, trustees, lenders. In any placement you will have the opportunity to gain exposure to unique perspectives in the field of microfinance.
Will I get to blog about my experiences?
Yes! The Kiva Fellows Blog will be an opportunity for you to share your experiences living and working abroad. You will be able to write about how encounters as a Kiva Fellow inspired you, moved you, made you laugh and made you think. Your contributions to the Kiva blog will be read by thousands in the Kiva community and will be great publicity for Kiva, your field partner(s), and Kiva Zip lenders and borrowers.
Who are my contacts at Kiva while in the field?
You will be supported by both the Kiva Fellows Program Team and a direct manager who is typically based in the region in which you are working.
Can I contact a Kiva Field Partner directly?
While we encourage applicants to research Kiva’s field partners, we ask that you do not reach out to them regarding the Kiva Fellowship. If you are accepted into the program, Kiva will formally introduce you to the field partner or partners who you will be serving with, after your placement becomes official and before you deploy to the field.
Can I be an intern at the Kiva office instead of being a fellow?
Please review the volunteer listings section of this website for any openings. There is a separate application process for in-office volunteers.

Preparations, Health, & Safety

What happens if I am accepted?
Do a happy dance! We will send you two documents to electronically sign to confirm your participation in the program. Upon receipt of the signed documents, we will inform you of your placement, introduce you to your manager and an alum of the program who has either served with the field partner(s) or in the city/region in which you are placed.
What should I do to prepare for being a fellow?
Research, read, and plan. Each Kiva Fellow is responsible for learning about the country/region/city where they will be living. Upon acceptance, Kiva will provide a list of recommended reading materials, but we expect you to proactively seek out information. During the mandatory Training Week in San Francisco, you will be linked to additional resources that will help you transition into your placement site.
What are my housing options?
Kiva Fellows are responsible for finding their own housing for the duration of their placement. Previous Kiva Fellows have lived in homestays, rented their own private apartment, shared an apartment/house with others, or stayed in a hotel close to their workplace. Some Kiva Fellows arrange their lodging prior to leaving, while others find it more convenient to arrange these details once they’ve arrived on site. Please keep in mind that some fellows may be placed with more than one field partner that may require finding lodging in multiple locations.
Who pays for travel and medical insurance?
Each Kiva Fellow is provided with basic travel medical insurance through MEDEX. This includes evacuation in the case of medical emergency, political unrest, or natural disaster. Supplementary coverage is available at the fellow's expense.
What kind of visa will I apply for?
The Kiva Fellows Program does not have the resources to advise fellows in the pursuit of visas. You will need to do research about the type of visa appropriate for your stay in the destination country. If required, Kiva can provide a letter of support.
What vaccinations will I need?
Vaccination requirements vary from country to country. In addition to completing basic research on this topic, you will need to contact your local travel clinic for more information on their recommendations for vaccinations.
What kind of technology will I be using in the field?
All Kiva Fellows are required to take a laptop and digital camera with them to the field and during training week in San Francisco. You should include this in your budget or fundraising goals.
Is it safe to volunteer in a certain country, region, or city?
This is a question you will need to answer for yourself. We encourage you to research extensively to determine whether you feel comfortable going to a particular country, region, or city. Kiva will never send you somewhere you are not comfortable. We want this to be a great experience for you, your field partner/Kiva Zip, and Kiva. Kiva cares about the safety and security of all Fellows, and uses travel advisories provided by Frontier Medex and the State Departments of the U.S., U.K., and Canada to inform security-related decisions during the placement process.
Can I be a fellow in active or post conflict zones?
If you have specific experience and a strong desire to work in a challenging location, we can discuss the possibility of a placement there.
What happens if there is a crisis while I'm in-country?
We require that all fellows serving internationally register with their embassy. If serving in your home country, the Kiva Fellows Program make efforts to know where fellows are and when, so that we can help support them in case of an emergency. At a time of major crisis, your primary point of communication should be your embassy, as Kiva's and the the field partner’s ability to help you in such situations may be limited. The travel insurance that Kiva provides can also be of assistance in security situations or when evacuation is necessary.

Funding

Does Kiva provide funding for fellows?
Given Kiva's limited resources, Kiva Fellows must be able to fund the fellowship themselves.
What will my costs be as a fellow?
The total cost of the program varies depending on country/city assignment and your personal travel/lifestyle. You will need to research the cost of living and round-trip flights and visas for the destination country/city, and flight and accommodations during training week. Also include possible costs for traveling to branch offices and visiting clients, trustees, etc. As part of the application process, you will be asked to build out a sample budget.
How have other Kiva Fellows fundraised for their trip?
Kiva Fellows have received funding from their universities, Rotary Clubs, grants, family, friends, networks, and company sponsorships. Some Kiva Fellows have applied directly to airlines for assistance and received free flights, or asked for mileage donations from friends or family. The Kiva Fellows Program also has a partnership with Indiegogo, an online fundraising platform that can help you leverage your network to solicit contributions. Get creative--fundraising for this opportunity is absolutely doable!
What grants do Kiva Fellows usually get?
Some Kiva Fellows get grants through their graduate school. Some schools have grants available for students about to enter graduate school, as well. A few participants have applied for Fulbright Scholarships to help fund their Kiva Fellowship. To find grants without university affiliation, you may have to do more research. For a monthly fee, you can sign up to have access to a comprehensive online database for individuals looking for funding from The Foundation Center. See gtionline.fdncenter.org/ for more information.
Can Kiva help me get a grant?
Unfortunately, we do not have the staffing to provide this kind of support. Each fellow is responsible for obtaining their own funding. Once accepted, we can write a letter on your behalf explaining your responsibilities as a Kiva Fellow.
Will the field partner(s) pay for or arrange my accommodations while I am abroad?
Kiva Fellows are expected to pay for all of their expenses during their placement. They should account for these costs in their budget. Kiva Fellows are required to find their own housing.
Can my company or organization sponsor me?
Yes, but the contribution will not be tax-deductible.

Kiva Fellows Training

What training is involved for Kiva Fellows?
There is a mandatory 5-day training at Kiva HQ in San Francisco for each class of fellows prior to their departure to the field. It covers Kiva's model, tools and resources you will need, and specifics of the deliverables you will be completing in the field. It will also give you a chance to meet your Kiva Fellow classmates, alumni of the program, and the Kiva staff. For more information about the training program, visit the Training and Deployment page of the Application Guide.
When are the trainings?
Please see Dates and Deadlines for up-to-date training information.
Is the training required?
Every session of the 5-day training is mandatory. If you will have to arrive late, leave early, or miss a session in the middle, you will not be eligible for a field placement.

Kiva Fellow Alumni

What opportunities are there for Kiva Fellow Alumni to stay involved with Kiva?
Kiva Fellow Alumni are highly valued members of the Kiva family and have many opportunities to stay involved with Kiva and the Fellows Program. Many alumni actively participate in the program by interviewing candidates and speaking with accepted applicants. Alumni are also encouraged to share their experiences with their home communities and attend events or speak on behalf of Kiva. All alumni will also receive a quarterly newsletter and be invited to attend Kiva and Alumni Recognition events. For more information, please visit the Alumni section of our Application Guide.
Is there a Kiva Fellow Alumni network?
Yes! All successful participants in the program will be welcomed into our ever-expanding community of Kiva Fellow Alumni. With 500+ members, this dynamic network of global change-makers can be an incredibly rich source of friendships and professional connections. Alumni are encouraged to communicate with one another through our online LinkedIn group, as well as in-person at our regional events.
Can I get a full-time job working at Kiva after the fellowship?
We cannot guarantee that full-time positions will be made available to Kiva Fellows. Many current staff members at Kiva are Fellows Program Alumni, so your participation will certainly not hurt your chances!