Friday June 2nd (apologies, blog is so out of synch). I am preparing to meet Fiona Ramsay of Kiva in San Francisco. Researching the organisation I find , on their front page no less, a description of Life In Africa…the project run by Christina Jordan …one of our pledgers! Something is definately going right. Christina is a pledger active in the Omidyar Network (and we have quite a few people from the Omidyar Network community who did pledge). She is also an Ashoka Fellow living in Uganda.
Fiona desicribes the groundbreaking work that Kiva is doing. Barely a year old they are winning plaudits, and pioneering an effective peer-to-peer microfinance organisation which as Fiona diplomatically puts it is “deceptively complex”. I leave inspired and with a new sense of how mentoring could make a difference. Perhaps not directly with entrepreneurs on the ground, but with the newer and smaller Micro Finance Institutions who report on the projects, write journals and suggest the entrepreneurs to Kiva. They have a great model and we will talk again. If you are interested in Microfinance I strongly encourage to take a look at their work and get involved.They have two interns blogging from Africa at present, and their founder, Matthew Flannery blogs at Social Edge.
Back in London I book a call with Christina. Life In Africa has potentially six mentees for us. I hear about the project, but also am immensly encouraged to ask for help. The time is coming and we’ll soon have a framework that people can volunteer into. I listen too , this time in the Omidyar Network, to her amazing efforts to work with the best of internet and computer providers in the area (Kampala and Gulu) BushNet and Inveneo and realise that while the solutions may be out there, getting people on the ground to join up the dots is still unbelievably hard, and patience, courage and perseverence are the name of the game. She has two Microsoft Fellows visiting to learn about the project and the difficulties and needs in the area of connectivity. Sounds fascinating.
It somehow did not seem so suprising when I called Fiona today a month after the conversation with Christina to find the same Microsoft Fellows about to report their findings to Kiva, tomorrow.