Today at Inside the Company, we are lucky enough to have the chance to talk to 23-year-old Matt-Roberts Davies, an intern for the Kiva Zip Operations Team at Kiva, San Francisco. Hi Matt, can you tell us a bit about your background and education? I graduated from Aberystwyth University with a first class honours degree in Economics. During my studies I spent a year volunteering on the MV Logos Hope where I travelled around South East Asia and also conducted a research project on microfinance in Uganda. Since being exposed to poverty during these experiences, I became interested in social enterprise. After graduation I worked for a non-profit in Vienna, Austria named Invest4Change where I managed a social impact café before moving to San Francisco for my internship at Kiva.org microloans. [caption id="attachment_2053" align="aligncenter" width="356"] Matt with other interns at the Kiva City Launch[/caption] What was it that attracted you to the company? As a student of economics I was always frustrated at the seemingly inefficient ways many charities were spending their money. When a friend told me about Kiva in 2012, I was instantly impressed by the simple yet effective approach to poverty alleviation. For those who don’t know, can you briefly describe what Kiva does? Kiva is an online platform that enables anyone who has $25 to empower an entrepreneur anywhere in the world through a crowd-funded business loan. Every dollar that is lent on the platform goes to the entrepreneur of your choosing (e.g. a farmer in Kenya), once that borrower starts making repayments on the loan, the lender also receives their money back which can be withdrawn or invested into another entrepreneur. Since 2005 Kiva lenders have made $788,000,000 in loans to 1.8 million entrepreneurs with an impressive 98.45% repayment rate.
How did you land your internship?
I applied online, having already researched the company for my undergraduate dissertation I was very enthusiastic about the organization and knew a lot about the microfinance industry.
How much time passed between your application and the moment you were hired?
The whole process took between 1-2 months.
What are your missions?
Kiva's mission - Loans that change lives: To empower financially excluded entrepreneurs through crowdfunded microloans.
My personal responsibilities – I am responsible for reviewing, on-boarding and posting 0% interest loans in the USA. I am the main point of communication with entrepreneurs, fellows, trustees and partners throughout the review process. My mission is to enable socially impactful business loans in the USA to get fully funded on the Kiva platform. Part of my role is to increase efficiency and operational capacity.
Can you tell us what the atmosphere is like at work?
The Kiva office resembles a silicon-valley tech start-up. Interns and fellows are recognised as being important to the running of the organisation, which means they carry a lot of responsibility and are also respected by other members of staff. The people I work with are extremely motivated, highly capable and missional minded. Each person has forgone the salary of a for-profit job in exchange for a career that they know helps others, which is very satisfying.
Would you recommend this company and why?
YES! Kiva is a great company to work for and support, it’s one of my personal favourite organizations since it appeals to both the heart and the head. Kiva is a solution to poverty that is sustainable and effective.
Do you think that there are career prospects within Kiva?
As a web-based non-profit, there are very few staff positions considering the size of impact it creates. Interns and fellows should not expect a job offer from Kiva, however the majority of staff were formerly interns and fellows. One key advantage of Kiva is recognition among other development organizations, since Kiva staff are well connected there are career prospects that come out of an experience at Kiva.
What are your plans from now on?
Once my internship ends, I plan to continue working in social enterprise in Anglophone Africa, my dream is to work with local entrepreneurs who will go onto create jobs.
Thanks Matt for this interesting interview and for providing us with more information about the great work being carried out by Kiva. All the best for the future and we hope you will achieve your dream of working in Anglophone Africa and making a difference to the lives of local entrepreneurs!