Here’s a pop quiz question: how do you find a borrower in rural Kosovo?
How about when no one has their address, and the loan officer handling their case has left the microfinance partner organization you’re working with?
Part of a Kiva Fellow’s job is to conduct something called a borrower verification, or BV. A BV is an audit of sorts; fellows are tasked with tracking down ten borrowers and checking to make sure that the information that Kiva has on file matches reality.
The tricky part is that borrowers can be difficult to find. This is particularly true in Kosovo, where, if granted the proper immigration status, people will leave for other parts of Europe to seek a better life. The first list of borrowers I received from Kiva turned out to have four people on it who no longer lived in Kosovo.
The second list contained a few borrowers whose exact location was unknown. One of the borrowers took us six hours to find; the following pictures are from that day.
So how do you find a hard-to-find borrower? You go to the general region they live in— you’ll have the village name, if you’re lucky— and ask everyone you can. You'll ask farmers, gas station attendants, women selling handicrafts on the streets, children, old men on strolls, and neighbors. You’ll probably get conflicting information, so you'll take your best guess on the reliability of your sources (did that farmer seem like he knew what he was talking about?). You give different meandering roads a shot, knock on many doors, and eventually you’ll find the person you’re looking for. And the person will be so genuine and wonderful that you’ll forget all about the hours it took to find them; you’ll sit down for coffee and learn their story, and the journey will seem like a distant memory. The moment will feel like a true triumph.
And then, of course, you'll have to find the next one, and the adventure will start all over again. But no matter how many doors you have to knock on before you find the one you’re looking for, it’ll be worth it. I promise.