Recently named to Oprah’s Favorite Things list, Kiva is a constant in many of my business and personal relationships. Much of that is from my time as a Kiva Fellow. One of the biggest perks of being a Kiva Fellow is being associated with the other amazing people who are also Kiva Fellows. While our time together is limited, we are only together in-person during a week long training at Kiva HQ in San Francisco, we are all linked together by our shared experiences in the field around the world. There are Kiva Fellows out there doing amazing work in sustainable development, microfinance, technology, getting their masters in business or public administration and running companies.
I wanted to take a moment to share some cool projects I do know about, there are many many others. But here are five of my favorite people I met through Kiva and a quick glance of “where are they now.” Support their organizations and follow these rockstars, they are on the cutting edge of their fields and amazing people to know. I also created a list on Twitter called “Kiva Fellow” which you can follow.
1. iMentor’s mission is to improve the lives of young people from underserved communities through innovative, technology-based approaches to mentoring. Over the past ten years, iMentor has transformed over 20,000 lives including matching over 10,000 mentor-mentee pairs, and partnering with 30 NYC schools and after school programs in four of New York City’s five boroughs and programs all over the country. Hanh Tran, a Kiva Fellow in Vietnam, who recently graduated from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, is now working at iMentor as a Program Manager.
2. It’s hard to pick one venture of Halle Tecco’s, so I’m going to include two. First, before becoming an intern at Kiva, Halle founded YogaBear, a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting more opportunities for wellness and healing to the cancer community through the practice of yoga. Yoga teachers and studios around the country provide free services to those in the cancer community. This past year she authored with friends, including another Kiva intern Analisa Shah (a powerhouse herself), The Flexitarian Cookbook, a cookbook for carnivores and vegetarians, with recipes from chefs around the country. Proceeds from The Flexitarian Cookbook benefit Slow Food USA and Yoga Bear and can be purchased here.
3. You all know Habitat for Humanity, right? Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, the organization has built over 350,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.75 million people in 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Dave McMurtry, a Kiva Fellow in Libya, now serves as the Senior Vice President of Strategy for Habitat International. In his role, he travels the world to visit projects and is hard at work at new and innovative strategies to take Habitat forward. I always love hearing about his exciting travels.
4. Worldreader’s mission is to make digital books available to all in the developing world, enabling millions of people to improve their lives. Where many schools and villages lack a library because they cannot keep current books in circulation, worldreader provides an endless amount of learning with one device. Zev Lowe, a Kiva Fellow in Indonesia, leads worldreader.org’s finance and research, and supports trial development while based in Barcelona. Zev, also known as an international man of mystery, is an enigma. Worldreader is so lucky to have him.
5. Pando Projects is a nonprofit that empowers people to step up as leaders and develop new, local solutions to the problems in their communities and called “the next big thing” by Kiva CEO, Premal Shah. Milena Arciszewski (who wrote a guest blog post on The Causemopolitan this summer) is the Founder and Executive Director and has been working on Pando since she returned to the States earlier this year from a yearlong Kiva Fellowship in Bosnia, Kenya and the Philippines. Launching in 2011, they are currently looking for 10 people (age 18+) with ideas that can be executed within 3 months in the New York City area. You can find out more about submitting a project here. Milena is a true social entrepreneur. I have loved hearing about Pando from an idea she described over dinner at the Bohol Bee Farm in the Philippines to seeing it executed on the verge of launching, it’s the makings of an incredible success story.