Santa Clara University

Room number: 38

Volunteering has become an intregal part of my life

Steve Grey M.A. '08

For Steve Grey MA '08, volunteering has become an intregal part of his life. After 20 years in Silicon Valley high tech and completing a Masters in Counseling at SCU, Steve was inspired to travel and volunteer. Along the way, he volunteered at orphanages, children's homes, and schools in 15 developing countries. Spending most of the time volunteering in developing countries, he saw a lot of poverty. From favelas in Brazil to slum settlements in South Africa to beggars in Calcutta to subsistence farmers in rural areas including Kenya, poverty was pervasive, but not hopeless. In the midst of poverty, he met some inspiring and hard-working people who simply lack the opportunities that are usually taken for granted. Learning more about poverty alleviation, he became intrigued and hopeful about micro-lending. With 20% of the world living on $1 a day, and 40% living on $2 a day, maybe micro-lending could be part of the solution to ending widespread poverty. Steve spent time as a Kiva Fellow, working with Small and Micro Enterprise Programme (SMEP), one of Kiva's lending partners in Nairobi, Kenya. He promoted Kiva's mission of connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty and making a difference to borrowers, lenders, and Kiva partners like SMEP. Kiva is a non-profit organization that provides "micro-loans" to people in developing countries so they can start or expand a small business. Micro-loans are typically for a few hundred dollars (for example, to buy a dairy cow or a sewing machine), usually repaid in less than a year. It's not a donation; it's a loan. For example, 20 Kiva members recently loaned about $25 each to Mable for a $525 loan to purchase sugar, cooking oil, flour, etc. to expand her small store in Kakamega, Kenya. That means, with a few clicks on Kiva's website (www.kiva.org), you can make loans to self-motivated "entrepreneurs" in 52 countries. Kiva does not administer the loans directly. Instead, it works through local lending partners ("microfinance institutions") in each country. To date, Kiva loans have a repayment rate over 98%. Steve?s next volunteer excursion is to Romania to work on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village building project to build a home over Easter week in Beius, Romania.