We are all Kiva partners (Somos Todos Socios de Kiva)


Sheethal Shobowale, KF9, Peru

Wordreference translates Spanish word socio as member or partner.

Yesterday, on my first day as a Kiva Fellow at Asociación Arariwa, I got to see my first group loan disbursement. Raquel (the Kiva coordinator at Arariwa) described the borrowers as Nuestros Socios (our members). In a group loan at Arariwa, the borrowers are Socios del banco. A lender who joins the Kiva community can also be called a Socio de Kiva. I translate Kiva’s partner MFIs as Socios de Kiva (Kiva partners) and I describe myself as Socio de Kiva (Kiva Fellow). And one more: here’s a past blog post by another Kiva Fellow, Michelle, about Socios Dinámicos.

Of course we all have other names –

  • Institución de Microfinanzas – Microfinance Institution: Asociación Arariwa
Asociación Arariwa: Institución de Microfinanzas - Microfinance Institution

Institución de Microfinanzas - Microfinance Institution: Asociación Arariwa

  • Prestamista – Lender: Kiva Lending Team Amigos de Asociación Arariwa
Kiva Lending Team Amigos de Asociación Arariwa

Prestamista - Lender: Kiva Lending Team Amigos de Asociación Arariwa

  • Prestatario – borrower: Ayda from Asociación Arariwa, Cusco, Peru
<b>Prestatario</b> - borrower: Ayda

Prestatario - borrower: Ayda from Asociación Arariwa, Cusco, Peru

  • Voluntario – Volunteer: “Lethal” Sheethal Shobowale, Kiva Fellow, KF9, Peru
Voluntario - Volunteer: "Lethal" Sheethal Shobowale, Kiva Fellow, KF9, Peru

Voluntario - Volunteer: "Lethal" Sheethal Shobowale, Kiva Fellow, KF9, Peru

but I really like the idea that we are all socios (partners or members) of Kiva, of microfinance and in alleviating poverty. And going back to Kiva’s mission, Connecting People through Lending to Alleviate Poverty, being connected as socios seems to make sense to me.

Please consider becoming a Socio of Asociación Arariwa by lending to Arariwa borrowers and joining our Kiva lending team – Amigos/Amigas de Arariwa!

Sheethal Shobowale is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow (KF9) in Cusco, Peru.


Soy Andina, a documentary about Peruvian Dance, and Social Media

A few weeks before leaving for my Kiva Fellowship in Peru, I went to a reception and screening of a movie called Soy Andina at the New York Times building.  The director, Mitch Teplitsky, emailed me out of the blue after learning through Twitter from a friend, Hillmer Reyes, that I would be moving to Peru for several months.

I was somewhat ready for my work with Kiva/Arariwa, the amazingly nice people, the food, and the sights.  But the movie introduced me to Peruvian dance and music and the many festivals, and made me so much more excited to move to Peru.

The photos on display at the Times Center, by Doug Klostermann (his photos on Flickr), vividly brought out lives of Peruvian people.

Doug Klostermann's photos from Peru

One of Doug Klostermann's photos from Peru at the Soy Andina screening at the Times Center - click to see more on Flickr.com

Last week I got to witness my first Peruvian holiday when traffic was diverted to the other side the main avenue in Cusco, La Cultura.  The right side of the street was covered in colors and people were commemorating La Batalla de Angamos (translation courtesy of Google Translator).   And the day before yesterday there was another  celebration right outside my office, complete with brass band and Peruvian dances.

Peruvian dancers celebrating on Avenida Graciloso, right near the Asociación Arariwa office

Peruvian dancers celebrating on Avenida Graciloso, right near the Asociación Arariwa office

The connection I have to Hillmar, Mitch, and Soy Andina through Twitter is only one of  many I have made through social media.  Here are more examples:

FacebookWhen I found out I was chosen as a Kiva Fellow, I first emailed my husband and my family.  But soon after I posted a Facebook profile update saying I was excited about being a Kiva Fellow in Cusco, Peru.  Instantaneously I got responses from friends telling me they had friends for me to meet, restaurants recommendations, places to visit, etc.  It was an incredible outpouring of what we call “Kiva Love!

Couchsurfing I also joined the Cusco Group on Couchsurfing (a social media traveling site) and found a travel buddy for my first weekend to visit the Sacred Valley.  From California, he is officially my best friend in Cusco.  And through this group, several Peruvians in Cusco and surrounding towns have offered to meet up to show me around or teach my Peruvian cooking.  I am already part of the New York and Brooklyn groups and have both hosted and couchsurfed with some awesome people who have now become good friends.

Kiva Communities and Lending Teams I joined and posted on the Kiva New York Lending Team’s site that I would be representing our home town for Kiva in Cusco.  Now I am part of that conversation too.  And I plan to share with them the New Yorker’s eye view of Cusco (ie – the 4 train is more crowded than the combi I take to work everyday)

Ok, I could go on forever, but I’ll stop here.  Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Couchsurfing, Kiva Communities, etc…the power to connect through social media is incredible.

And to learn more about Soy Andina and learn about future screenings, please visit SoyAndina.com.

You can find me on the following social media communities:

User Voice and Get Satisfaction Feedback Forums

An easy way to obtain feedback from people who visit your website is to set up a feedback forum.  Some example of feedback forum providers include User Voice and Get Satisfaction.

It’s easy: just create an account, customize and implement a widget with few lines of javascript on your site and you’re off!  Unfortunately, I can’t embed javascript in my WordPress.com hosted blog, but when I move my blog to WordPress.org (soon!) it will be much easier to find.

The first level is free, but both companies have advanced versions of their product for small and large companies.  User Voice and Get Satisfaction both charge variable monthly fees depending on added features and functionality such as the level of customization, topic moderation and analytics.

What I really like about these products is that neither is invasive. Here are a couple options for embedding the script:

  • Add Feedback item to your Navigation Bar – Mine is currently under Contact and Feedback
  • Place the Feedback tab to the right or left side of your page.  When you click on the Feedback tab, the page goes dark and the Feedback box centers on the page.  But other then the minimalistic Feedback tab alerting visitors that they can give giveback if and when they choose to, the tool is hidden from the other information on your side.

See the screenshot below from the User Voice site.  The red tab on the left side says Feedback, and this screenshot is after the Feedback tab has been pressed.  The Feedback forum pops up in white.

User Voice Forum Screenshot

User Voice Forum

Once you click through and open the User Voice forum it looks like the below screenshot from my User Voice forum.  Currently, you can get there from my Contacts page or click on the picture below.  Please add some ideas if you have them and vote on the current ideas if there is something that interests you.

Lethal Sheethal's User Voice Forum

Lethal Sheethal's User Voice Forum

Here’s a screen shot of a Get Satisfaction feedback forum on another blog I mange – the Cumberland Block Association.  Same idea.  Once you click the feedback tab on the left side, the page goes dark and the forum becomes front and center.

Get Satisfaction User Forum

Get Satisfaction User Forum

Pretty cool and easy, no?

Here are some companies using Feedback Forums like these:

Please feel free to ask me about Feedback Forums.  If you know if any other online feedback tools, please share them below.

Be the Change…Mahatma Gandhi

Sheethal Shobowale, KF9, Peru

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” -Mahatma Gandhi

That’s why I wanted to be a Kiva Fellow.  In honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday today (Oct 2nd), I am glad to say that my Kiva Fellow colleagues and I are living the change we wish to see by helping people much less fortunate than us.

Sheethal Shobowale at Kvia Fellows Training

Sheethal Shobowale at Kiva Fellows Training

My name is Sheethal Shobowale.  I am a New Yorker and the daughter of Indian immigrants.  Through my recently founded company, Leap Work, I help non-profits with online communications – development, social media, audience research and analytics online.  In my free time, I facilitate discussions about financial literacy for youth and conduct credit counseling for adults as well as coordinate my local block association.  I also love rock climbing and cooking.

I am excited to work as a Kiva Fellow with Asociación Arariwa in Cusco, Peru starting next week.  I look forward to sharing stories of positive change with you!  You can also follow @LethalSheethal on Twitter to get (more) real-time updates from Cusco.

Please consider lending to Asociación Arariwa borrowers on Kiva or join Kiva Lending Team Amigos/as de Asociación Arariwa in your future loans.

Thanks for supporting Kiva!


Thinking about the Collective, Selflessness and a Year of Service

Thinking about the Collective, Selflessness and a Year of Service

During this year’s September 11th tribute, I thought about Obama’s call to make that day of National Day of Service.  Is one day enough to make a difference or does it promote slacktivism?  I donate time and money to various organizations.  I’m even going to Peru for 6 months to volunteer as a Kiva Fellow and I still don’t think that is enough.

Every Israeli citizen goes into the army when they turn 18.  Leaving aside the combat draft idea for a moment, why shouldn’t the U.S. have a similar program?  A year of service, broadly speaking (whether in the military, volunteering for a non-profit community or civic organization) would teach a sense of collective, selflessness and respect for others as it seems to me that the trend these days is towards individualism and selfishness and disrespect.

Motivation for this post – Some recent examples of selfishness and individualism and disrespect:

Though I realize these examples are celebrities and political figures, known for large egos and outlandish behavior, these are examples we hear the most about in the news and on the internet, in social media, etc.  They may respond that it’s not their job to be a role model (except maybe the Congressman).  Even so, their public personas make them role models for the behavior of every day people and our children by default.

Some examples of Selflessness and the Collective

Maybe we are on to something…I wish selflessness examples got more air time than the selfishness. Continue reading

Kiva Gift Certificates, Kiva Loans, Kiva Lending Teams: More ways to support my Kiva Fellowship in Peru

Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Kiva Fellows support that mission by being the on the ground connector between the Microfinance Institution and Kiva.  Please read more about my Kiva Fellowship here.

Here are a couple more ways to support Kiva and my Kiva Fellowship in Peru:

1. Buy a Kiva gift certificate for me:

With the Kiva gift certificate, I can make a loan to a Kiva borrower and as the loan is paid back, I can withdraw the money to use for my Kiva Fellowship.  This support Kiva’s borrowers and my Kiva Fellowship.  Here is my Kiva lender page: http://www.kiva.org/lender/LethalSheethal

Here’s how to purchase a Kiva gift certificate:

  1. Go to Kiva’s gift certificate page
  2. Choose the amount
  3. Choose the number of gift certificates
  4. Enter my First Name, Last Name, Email: sheethal.shobowale@fellows.kiva.org and confirm it
  5. Enter a personal message (For example: “Hope you don’t get Dengue Fever!” or “Please lend to a widow in Cambodia, if available” or something more personal that would make me smile when I’m feeling lonely reading it from Cusco)
  6. Click “Purchase Kiva Gift Certificate(s)”
  7. Click “Agree to Terms of Service”
  8. Decide if you would like to “tip” Kiva with a donation to their operating costs (Remember, Kiva is dedicated to transparency.  100% of all loans go directly to the borrower.  Kiva does not take any portion of your loan amount for their operating costs)
  9. Review your purchase.  If you already have a Kiva account and have Kiva credit, you can use that credit to buy a gift certificate
  10. Click “Purchase”  If you don’t have enough Kiva credit, this step will take you to PayPal
  11. Log-in to PayPal or use your credit card
  12. Complete your purchase

Voilá!  You have supported a Kiva borrower and my Kiva Fellowship!

Buy a Kiva Gift Certificate - Support Kiva and My Kiva Fellowship

Buy a Kiva Gift Certificate - Support Kiva and My Kiva Fellowship

Continue reading to learn more ways to support Kiva… Continue reading

Lethal Sheethal’s Kiva Fellowship Fundraiser and Congrats to Raffle Winners

Going Away / Kiva Support Party

Featuring Bulldog lemonade and pisco sours by Mixologist Sheethal, arepas, beans and rice, BBQ by Grillmaster Tokumbo and red velvet cupcakes by CakeMan Raven, the party was a blast!  I got to talk to many friends and meet some new ones.  I also introduced Kiva to some people who had never heard of the organization before.

Thank you all so much for your support of my work with Kiva.  I have collected so many good thoughts from the Going Away Party and so many personal messages from those who could not make it that I will keep with me during my trip.

Some of you have said that my work is inspiring to you.  That is very kind.  I think many of us do great things to support our local communities and help make the world better.  This has been a dream of mine for a long time.  I am looking forward to doing a small part to support Kiva’s mission and learn more about the reality of microfinance in the rural Cusco region.

As the days are counting down to my departure, I’m getting excited but also realizing how much I will miss my husband, my family and my friends during my time away.  Fulfilling a dream comes with sacrifice but this experience will be priceless.  Thank you again for all of your support!

Raffle Winners

  • bike tune up from Bespoke Bicycles = KIRAN
  • dinner for two at Deniz, the yummy Turkish restaurant on Fulton = COLLEEN
  • dinner for two at iCi, seasonal menus from locally-sourced ingredients in a brownstone parlor = HELENE
  • $50 gift certificate for Aqualis Grill, mediterranean specializing in fish = MICHELLE
  • 1 hour tennis lesson from Master Pro Kiran Rao = CAROL
  • 1 hour tennis lesson from Master Pro Kiran Rao = LORENE
  • Orientation Package for the Manhattan Plaza Climbing Gym = TARA
  • Orientation Package for the Manhattan Plaza Climbing Gym = MARCIA
  • bottle of Peruvian Pisco = STACEY
  • bottle of Bulldog Gin = CAROL
  • The Blue Sweater book by Jacqueline Novagratz, founder of the Acumen Fund = CHARLES

Congratulations to everyone who won!  And thanks again to all of the entrepreneurs who generously donated fantastic prizes for the raffle. Please support local businesses by patronizing their stores and restaurants and support Peruvian entrepreneurs with loans through Kiva.

Photos from the party!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And please see my friend Lorene’s photos on Facebook.