Tag Archives: kiva

Welcome ACCIONISTA Summer Interns!

CEO Paul Quintero inspiring us to think beyond any limits we have set for ourselves

CEO Paul Quintero inspiring us to think beyond any limits we have set for ourselves

On Wednesday we had a orientation at ACCION USA for our summer interns- 14 interns joined from New York and remotely from Atlanta and Boston through our gotomeeting platform and via Skype.

A few of the most memorable moments were when our “historian” Carmen told stories about our first clients, seeing the interns in Boston live through Skype video and of course, our CEO Paul Quintero uplifting everyone’s spirits and dreams about the limitless possibilities at ACCION USA.

A warm welcome to our entire Summer ACCION USA intern brigade!

In Atlanta:

  • David McNeill is a Lending and Outreach Intern who recently returned from his Kiva Fellowship in Sierra Leon- he is very excited about combining his international microfinance experience with work in Atlanta at ACCION USA.

In New York:

  • Airi Kobayashi is a Communications Intern studying IT Business at Notre Dame University. Airi speaks Japanese and Mandarin and has worked in marketing, technology, and design.
  • Alvaro Gutierrez is a Lending Intern. Alvaro studied Business Administration and has experience teaching and working with entrepreneurs in his home country of Chile. Alvaro also worked as an Business Executive in The Nielsen Company.
  • Kimberly Edwards is a Lending and Financial Education Intern from Columbia University doing her year-long field placement at ACCION USA. Kimberly has previous microfinance experience working at Self Help in North Carolina.
  • Alicia Quinn is a Volunteer Partnerships and Business Development Intern. Alicia is graduate intern from Columbia University doing her year-long field placement at ACCION USA. Alicia worked in health care administration for 7 years in Vail, Colorado.
  • Etel Echevarria is a Lending Intern. A native to Argentina, Etel is completing her MPA at City University of New York. Etel previously interned at Make The Road New York.
  • Matt Roth is a Lending In tern. Matt recently returned from the Peace Corps in El Salvador and is also working part-time in homeless outreach in New York City.
  • Lauren Yothers is a Communications Intern who studied at the University of Miami. Lauren speaks Spanish and Portuguese and also worked in community development with a renowned activist and anthropologist in Haiti.
  • Mauricio Delgado is a Lending Intern. A native to Ecuador, Mauricio completed his Business Administration degree from Queens college. Mauricio has many experiences working with small business in his home country and in the U.S.
  • John Remson is a Resource De velopment Intern. John recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Government and Politics. John previously worked as an enumerator for the United States Census Bureau.
  • Marisa Casellas is the Kiva Intern and a graduate student at NYU Wagner. Marisa worked for three years at the Hispanic Federation of New York and is fluent in Spanish and Italian.

In Boston:

  • Hajar Elaalej is a lending summer interns.  Hajar recently graduated from Boston University with a double major in Economics and International Relations.  She is from Morocco however, moved to Boston to finish her studies in 2008.  She served at BU as the President of the Arab-Israeli Peace Alliance.
  • Brinya Bjork is a Microtest Inte rn studying Business Administration from Notre Dame University. She has many experienences working as an advocate for the disabled, immigrant, women, homesless, and victims of natural disaster.
  • Ryan Quillard is a Microtest Intern hailing from the University of Notre Dame where he studies Business Adminisatration. He has interned and/or worked at the Center For Homesless, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and as a swimming instructor in New Orleans.
  • Carolyn McMahon is Managing Intern for Microtest. She is completing her Masters degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She has vast experience in Justice working at a microcredit bank in Senegal, with a peace and justice organizations in San Fransc iso and San Deigo. She is driven to combine her experience and knowledge of microfinance with peace building initiatives.

Welcome to our newest Accionistas-Much of the success of ACCION USA is owed to the extraordinary talent and efforts of interns and volunteers.New York Interns returning from lunch at client restaurant Dardanel

New York Interns returning from lunch at client restaurant, Dardanel

Attention Microfinance Students! 2 Days in New York, 40 breakout sessions and 800 attendees…for only $75!


ACCION USA, Opportunity Fund, and Kiva bring you the Microfinance USA 2011 Conference this May 23-24 in New York City!

Are you a student interested in local economic development? Are you passionate about being part of the growing microfinance movement in the U.S. – and interested in learning from industry experts about the impact you can make? If so, this conference is not to be missed. Microfinance USA provides a unique setting for networking and learning from the industry’s top practitioners, funders, and researchers.

Topics that will be discussed at this year’s conference include:

  • What does “Microfinance” mean? – debating and defining our terminology
  • Impact of microlending in the U.S.
  • Social Entrepreneurship and Microfinance
  • Promise and Peral of Microfinance Impact Evaluations

Over two days, you can:

  • Network with leading practitioners and researchers in the U.S. microfinance field
  • Attend plenary sessions and panels led by the nation’s leading microfinance voices.
  • Deepen your understanding of the challenges facing Microfinance Institutions through case-study analysis.
  • Experience microfinance first-hand by touring local microenterprises in New York.
  • Debate current microfinance topics during small group sessions and networking dinners.
  • Discover how students LIKE YOU are impacting the domestic microenterprise industry in remarkable ways
  • Collaborate with student microfinance clubs and young professionals across the country

For More Information please visit the website:


Student Price: $75

Want To See The Way Microfinance Works From The Inside?

Microfinance USA 2011Join us, December 1st at 5:00PM  EST for “Underwriting: Microfinance Behind the Scenes,” an exciting webinar about how to underwrite a microloan presented by the  Microfinance USA 2011 Conference. We’ll be hosting two of the industry’s leading loan underwriters: Neil Boss, Senior Underwriter at ACCION USA and William Cardenas, Senior Loan Consultant at Opportunity Fund.

Their online presentation will include:

  • Case studies of recent loan approvals
  • Common microloan application strengths and weaknesses
  • Internal processes (and the evolution of processes) that have lead to improved and quicker loan decisions
  • Plenty of time for virtual Q&A with webinar participants

The webinar will give a sneak peek into the types of topics and sessions that the Microfinance USA 2011 Conference will explore. We’re excited to co-present the conference in New York City on May 23-24, 2011, in partnership with Opportunity Fund and Kiva. We’ll make sure you’re the first to know when registration opens later this year. In the meantime, this webinar is not to be missed!  Register now and mark your calendars for this exciting event.

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Microfinance Week In Review: Week Ending October 22

Some of the week’s news in the microfinance, green business initiatives and the small business sector:

Intern (n): NOT JUST The Bottom of The Totem Pole


By Amelie Busch

Students across the country have been participating in internships since the beginning of time—perfecting the art of getting coffee, kicking the printer when it’s down, and running downtown for… more coffee.

Luckily, I’m interning at ACCION USA in New York City, where getting “cawfee” is not the major task of my day. As a new “ACCIONista” I’ve been meeting with our Microfinance Council, attending weekly marketing team meetings, interviewing clients, and uploading client stories to our Kiva page. Later this month, I’ll also have the opportunity to travel to the ACCION USA Boston office for the annual Lending team meeting.

As the Kiva Intern, I’ve spent most of my summer working with our clients and Loan Consultants to get client stories posted on the Kiva website. Kiva’s been a great partnership for ACCION USA because it helps us lend to clients who fall just under our requirements. With the financial crisis, it’s been all about assessing our risk while still lending to eligible small businesses.

My favorite day, so far, at ACCION USA was when one of our clients, Jose, came into the office. He was meeting with his loan consultant, Elizabeth, to finalize and disburse his loan. Afterwards, I got to sit down with him and ask him about his business so that I could create his Kiva profile. It was great seeing the loan process come to life and meeting with such an inspirational micro-entrepreneur.

As an intern at ACCION USA, my experience has been eye-opening and rewarding. With the organization moving at 100 mph, like most people do in New York City, everyone plays a big role in keeping our vehicle on target. More information, trust and responsibilities are handed to me on a daily basis. With great employees, grateful clients and a fun working environment, this internship has made me feel far from the ‘bottom of the totem pole.’

amelieAmelie Busch is serving as the Kiva Coordinator Intern for ACCION USA during Summer 2010. She is a rising senior at Elon University, studying Finance and Economics. She has a passion for microfinance and founded the Elon Microfinance Initiative – a student organization designed to promote the outreach and awareness of microfinance.

I’m not Jerry Maguire, but Show Me the Money!

Show Me the Money event from ACCION USA on Vimeo.

by Amelie Busch

Business owners didn’t actually see dollar bills flying around at the ‘Show Me the Money’ event in June, but they did learn some great tools to see more of them in the future. ACCION USA and Citigroup hosted the event at LaGuardia College in Queens, NY, to respond to the economic uncertainty and lack of credit in the current financial crisis. The event was a big hit with its seven panelists and more than 70 attendees! Many came for the same reason: advice on building credit. Here’s what we learned from the panelists:

  1. The rules of credit
    Florence Julliard of the East River Development Alliance mentioned three key strategies: always pay your bills on time, keep your credit card balances low, and be judicious about how often you apply for a loan.
  2. Start your business with your own savings
    Brian Gurski of the LaGuardia Small Business Development Center spoke to the types of initial funding of the top 100 start-up businesses: 74% used their own personal savings!
  3. Keep your cash flow positive
    Matt Norton of Citigroup stressed the importance of keeping your cash flow and ‘the bottom line’ positive.
  4. Starting the loan process
    Elizabeth Bueno of ACCION USA told us what we’ll need to apply for a loan: three months of bank statements, two years of tax returns, a business certificate, and a separate accounting of business and personal expenses.
  5. ACCION USA’s loans
    ACCION USA lends to microentrepreneurs for both personal and business loans. These loans range in size between $500 and $50,000.

At the end of the day, microentrepreneurs networked with panelists and other small business owners. The event was a great success, and many attendees soon contacted ACCION USA loan consultants to start the process of getting a loan. Our financial education events often open doors for many small businesses who thought a loan was out of their reach, by giving them the tools and contacts they need. Join us next time at one of ACCION USA’s upcoming events!

Amelie Busch is serving as the Kiva Coordinator Intern for ACCION USA during Summer 2010.

ACCION USA Celebrates One Year on Kiva.org!

I’m not one for remembering dates; I’ll even admit that I confuse my mom and dad’s birthdays.  So when June 10th was approaching, there weren’t any plans going on to celebrate the one-year anniversary for ACCION USA’s partnership with Kiva.org.

Without further ado, a blog post to commemorate the partnership!

On June 10, 2009 the first U.S. loan appeared on the Kiva website, Elizabeth Polanco. I did my best to be the first person to lend to a U.S. entrepreneur; Maria Shriver beat me to it though!

Kiva.org screenshot

The weeks that followed ensued passionate conversation about the need for microfinance in the United States, compared to traditional Kiva partners in developing nations. A lending team on Kiva was created to support us, check out the Happy Kiva Lenders . There were also some interesting conversations going on in the blogosphere that have helped fuel more support and awareness for microfinance globally.

Since June 10, 2009, ACCION USA has raised almost $500,000 dollars to support 95 borrowers through Kiva.org. Each of these borrowers has had a chance to share their story of entrepreneurship with the lending community on Kiva. Their Kiva profiles help generate a narrative about the successes and challenges for entrepreneurs, and the need for access to small business loans.

U.S. microfinance has only reached the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. It is through partners like Kiva that we are inspired and become innovative to reach those in need. With our missions aligned, ACCION USA and Kiva will continue to grow and inspire interest in microfinance—together.

And now for the Thank You’s!

Dear Kiva lenders, we have been overwhelmed by your generosity and conviction to the mission of microfinance. Thank you for all of your support and kind words—we always look forward to hearing from you.  We hope that you choose to continue supporting ACCION USA through Kiva.org.

To our clients, a sincere thank you for participating in the Kiva program—your stories are the reason that we come to work everyday!

Please take a look at our current loans fundraising on Kiva!

Mission, Not Profit, Drives Interest Rates in the U.S.: Response to “Banks Making Big Profits from Tiny Loans”

Readers of “Banks Making Big Profits From Tiny Loans” (The New York Times, April 14, 2010) should note that the lending practices described are not consistent with the practice of microfinance in the United States, where the strategy is also alive and well.

The U.S. ACCION Network has distributed over $260 million in loans to micro-businesses across the US. We have done so with interest rates that reflect our primary mission: to put reasonably priced credit in the hands of those who are locked out of the traditional financial mainstream, and to do so in a manner that assists the business owner in increasing, not depleting his/her assets. Though it would be easy to say thresholds are set by law, the primary driver is creating an environment in which hardworking people have an opportunity to succeed.

Typical U.S. microloan interest rates are set so that the loan recipients profit, not the lender.

Typical U.S. microloan interest rates are set so that the loan recipients profit, not the lender.

Our rates range by program and by state but are well below the rates cited as endemic in the microfinance world, below credit card interest rates, and are accurately stated on the Kiva website. On loans that average $10,000, there isn’t much income generated for ACCION once we have covered our capital costs and the risk we take per loan. As a result, while we continue to drive improvements, we are not sustainable without the support of foundations, individual donors and government. That is a fact that has limited how much of the market we can serve and our ability to go to scale.

Following a rigorous due diligence process, ACCION USA was chosen by Kiva to be one of two microfinance partner organizations working with US-based businesses. The relationship serves each of our missions well: to facilitate access to the capital required to start or grow a business.  Kiva’s ability to harness the good will and interest of millions of people in investing to directly affect the lives of individual business owners enables ACCION USA to lend more to more businesses. That’s not the material of criticism; it is a positive outcome born of innovation, common mission and a dedication to doing what is right for the people we serve.

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Linking Ideas with Young, Enterprising Minds

November 16-22, 2009, Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009, will introduce millions of young people in more than 75 countries around the world to entrepreneurship. More than 3 million participants in panels, forums and innovation tournaments will be encouraged to explore innovative thinking, linking ideas with enterprising minds!

The timing for the second Global Entrepreneurship Week, founded last year by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Make Your Mark, couldn’t be better.

Underlying this week is what the Kauffman Foundation has termed a ‘coming entrepreneurship boom’. An upbeat generation of young entrepreneurs ages 20-34 is taking a lead in small business innovation and development. With an overall more positive outlook on the economy (see Crain’s New York Business.com Article), young entrepreneurs are leading the way with innovative business ideas and strong plans for execution.

Perhaps it’s that young people see entrepreneurship as a viable and exciting alternative to today’s slow job market. Perhaps the success of young companies like Google and Facebook is alluring. Perhaps the reasons for this ‘coming entrepreneurship boom’ are many!  ACCION USA has certainly seen a surge in young entrepreneurship. Check out Joshua’s story. Joshua, an ACCION USA client on Kiva runs a web-based used/new clothing company in Michigan and received a $1000 loan from ACCION USA to purchase inventory.

This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009 involved participants from all walks of life. You too can get involved today to wrap up Global Entrepreneurship Week by visiting www.unleashingideas.org. Don’t just watch this innovative economy unfold – jump right in!

Live, Love, Lend

This guest post comes from Boston staff member Melissa Roberts…

Thursday night, Kiva held its very first lenders party in Boston with the spectacular tag-line “Live. Love. Lend.” ACCION USA, is one of only two Kiva partner kiva5organizations in the United States, and we dared not miss the event. Our Boston-based team bundled up and trekked through the unusually bitter weather to support micro-entrepreneurs.

Lenders, supporters, and curious minds gathered at the Mexican-Irish fusion pub Jose McIntyre’s. While the DJ spun hot beats, the true star of the night was ACCION USA borrower Doracy, owner of Dore’s Boutique in Fall River, MA, who had received her loan through our Kiva loan program. Before coming to ACCION USA, Doracy had tried to find a small loan through traditional venues, but was unable to get the small boost of capital she needed to stock her store’s shelves for the holiday season.

A splendid time was had, and much to our delight Jose McIntyre’s was not only serving Sam Adams Boston Brick Red, sales of which benefit ACCION USA’s Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream Loan Fund, but promoting it with coasters strewn all over the bar!

The simplicity of the event got me thinking: a group of people, all passionate about a cause can get together and support microfinance by doing something commonplace. We all gather with friends at bars and purchase beer to enjoy. Now, organizations like Kiva and Sam Adams are putting a socially conscious spin on these activities by linking them to microfinance!

I know that I, for one, will be more conscious about supporting small businesses as I go about my daily life, because being part of something bigger is thrilling.

I’ll sign out with a word to the wise:  Live. Love. LEND! (And drink Sam Adams responsibly!)