Hi Kiva fans!

My name is Brent, and I’m a member of this class of Kiva Fellows that you haven’t seen on the blog yet. Yeah, my start got a little delayed. But I’d like to think of myself as fashionably late, and getting here just as the party is in full swing. Except that unlike most, this is a party I was actually invited to.

I’ve been placed with AFODENIC, one of Kiva’s field partner’s based out of Managua, Nicaragua. AFODENIC is actually a catchy acronym for Asociacion Para El Fomento Y Desarollo De Nicaragua (Association for the Promotion and Development of Nicaragua). I’ll be working with people here to help ramp up their journal updates for Kiva lenders, and do what I can to further both Kiva’s goals, those of this partner microfinance institution (MFI). I’ll also stay out in the field with the next team of Kiva Fellows to work with a different Kiva field partner.

After so much looking forward to this opportunity, I’m finally here and started work with my host MFI. And now I’m sitting in a Managua pizzeria with wifi, where they seem to be playing the greatest hits from my sixth grade dance.

I arrived the other day, and as I sat back in my taxi from the airport and started to take in the sights and sounds of Managua, it’s strange, but one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was, “Wow, it’s good to be back.” In the next instant I realized what a ridiculous thought that was, because I’ve never been here before.

For a minute I tried to think of what country I had passed through over the years that I was actually thinking of. Maybe the outskirts of Lima…or something from Guatemala? Maybe even a hint of South Africa…or India?

The sights going by along the highway were the signs of poverty and development, from the old cars in the next lane, to the landscape, to the metal shacks and basic housing with the clothing lines outside. There was the smell of something burning nearby. And I realized, this was actually a little of all of those places, and in a way, I was in fact “back.” If anything, I was back in the real world.

I say the real world because, after all, this is much closer to where most people come from. It’s easy to forget in the U.S. when we have so much on our mind, and now our own economic disasters capturing our attention. But depending on whose numbers you use, a good 3 billion people on the planet are living on less than $2.50 a day. The rest are, well, somewhere in between. So that’s practically half the world’s population that’s poorer than the poorest people in the U.S., and that’s way too many.

The most exciting thing is that this time I’m not just passing through. I’m here to do something to help close that gap, and do work for a website that is letting all of us be a part of the solution with loans that change people’s lives.

I’ll be back soon to share more of what’s happening on the front lines of microfinance in Nicaragua! But for now, I’m going to enjoy a little Vanessa Williams…

Brent Zettel is a Kiva Fellow working with AFODENIC in Nicaragua. Leave a comment, or email kivabrent@gmail.com with thoughts, questions, or something you’d like to hear about.


Don’t forget to visit Kiva.org and lend your support Nicaragua’s entrepreneurs! To get involved with loans posted to Kiva by AFODENIC, click here.

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