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Page history last edited by rsb 9 years, 4 months ago

Hit the "Next" link at the bottom of each page to flip through chronologically.  Hit the word "wiki" in the upper left corner to go back to the top page of this wiki.


Seriously, this part is really boring and you can just start with the section Friday - leave sfo if you want pictures.


You can get away with just reading the bits in bold.


There are always a few preliminary discussions to have before making a staff trip.  A staff member has to decide where they want to go, then work with the Kiva manager for that part of the world, then work with Kivas partners in that area to arrange a trip.  The story of our trip makes more sense if I mention these discussions and a little background.


Pre-History - why we focused on training and why this is not a new thing


I'm proud of our work on this trip, but I don't want to make it seem like helping partners in Africa with IT issues was ever mine or Kivas idea.

Tech work like this predates Kiva by a lot.  Specialized, mature NGOs exist specifically to improve IT in the developing world and they do good work.  Usually, however, they need a lot of money to make that happen.  Also, sometimes the NGOs must maintain these systems indefinitely, or they fall apart.  


There is probably something in every ancient text about missions of a technical nature to foreign lands "and jobe brought the knowledge of trench irrigation, and in whatsiland there was plenty, until there was a flood, whence jobe, becoming small and dirty, hid among the goats and herded quietly to nextplaceland, bringing acorns..."


Within Kiva, the idea of providing tech help to MFIs has probably been an idea since day 1 of business operations.  We are sending energetic, bright people out to the third world all the time, so it makes sense that we look into ways we can do some good there.  In a way, it's a cheap thing for us to do.


I suspect, but am not sure, that technical training has been an informal function of the a Kiva volunteer program called the "fellows" program, and that they receive training in this.  Some tech work does get done by fellows - many fellows are programmers or at least can whip up a website.  It is also possible that other staff trips have focused on this issue.  Also, engineering sends people out to integrate MFIs with the Kiva Partner API.  I really don't know how much of this stuff we do - everyone is busy at Kiva, which is the way things should be, so no one has ever had time to mention anything about tech training to me.  


Personally, training is a natural bent for me.  My decisions are informed by my desire to avoid harmful waste and pass knowledge on to more useful beings than I.  So, when considering a staff trip, I had training in mind from the start, but wasn't sure if I could fit it in.  I used to do some training professionally.  It was the most productive and least lucrative thing I ever did for work.  


History - Set a date to do some IT work in Sierra Leone


I wanted to know from our partners team where I could do the most good, and how to do it.


It was decided between Ben Elberger and I (Ben is the guy at Kiva who manages stuff in west Africa), sometime in 2009, that I should visit west Africa, and help a few partners there with their IT ops.  That was to be my one week staff trip.  


As with all of our regional managers, Ben is ridiculously busy, so he provides mainly authorization, an introductory contact with the MFIs, and best-effort advice on how to handle travel and do business in the country.  Ben's advice was awesome and essential, but I found that Ben does a different kind of business than I do (i.e. he does ACTUAL business negotiation at an executive level, while I do more crawling around on the floor of wiring closets fixing cables).  


Stephanie Koczela was also a major help.  She gave us books on the region, which we read, told us how to use our hands in a mostly muslim country, suggested gifts we might bring, etc.


Around August, an informal date of Oct 2010 was set for a visit to two partners in Sierra Leone.  I would try to find another staff member or two to come with and help out.  I then began discussions with our MFI partners in Sierra Leone via email.


Next: Start emailing with MFIs





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