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Kiva Zip: How One individual Trustee empowers people he knows


In communities throughout Kenya countless individuals are doing tremendous deeds to serve the people they know and trust.

According to UN Habitat, of the four million people who live in Nairobi, over 60% live in slums, 78% of which do not have running water in their homes. Many struggle to pay their rent of $10-35 per month and rarely have enough food to eat. Their children are very lucky if they are consistently able to attend school. For those in better conditions, this reality becomes all the more confronting when these people are your friends and relatives.

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When Davis Mkoji got a call in early 2012 inviting him to test out the newly-created Kiva Zip program, he jumped at the opportunity. He was already supporting young men who struggled to earn a living and knew he would not be able to sustainably meet their needs. Microfinance institutions could not serve these individuals and Davis could not afford to supply the capital himself.

Davis Mkoji, Kiva Zip Trustee

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A full-time employee of Kenya Medical Research Institute and part-time lecturer for a private university in communications and leadership, Davis is well-connected and respected in the community, and thus, an ideal individual trustee for Kiva Zip. In the last 24 months he has endorsed 43 borrowers, four of whom became trustees themselves as part of a “borrower-trustee” experiment launched in 2013. Now, each of those four borrowers has endorsed one to six others, illustrating the ripple effect that even just one individual trustee can have. Without opening his wallet, Mkoji has granted over 40 people access to a combined total of $12,000 in loans with a 99.3% repayment rate.


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Davis is currently a member of the Kiva Zip Advisory Board – a group of trustees who were selected based on their high repayment rate and large number of borrowers they’ve brought onto the Kiva Zip platform.

“My motivation to reach the needy and helping them out is out of the fact that I am always fascinated to see people meet their needs despite the challenges they face at hand,” says Davis.

When selecting borrowers Davis evaluates several metrics.

“I look at friendship, acquaintances and their character in general,” he says.  “I interact with such friends, some of which I mentor in my church, workplace and within my social life.  The criteria is based on how long I have known them, our level of trust, their values and other necessary qualities.”


He understands the care it takes to support borrowers throughout the loan process, especially for those borrowers who are on their 2nd, 3rd and 4th Kiva Zip loans.

“I know it’s difficult for the borrowers to remain successful as the loan increment increases. This is where I apply my own instincts, especially by looking at the challenges they face in the business and being able to advise, mentor them and really make it happen,” says Davis.

He notes the community Kiva Zip fosters. And emphasizes the need for ongoing support for individual trustees who are often times the main link between Kiva Zip and borrowers.

“I want to thank Kiva Zip for giving us an opportunity as trustees to serve the people of Kenya and our communities to achieve their dreams. I think for me that is the biggest achievement I’ve had in a very long time ,” says Davis.



Check out our interview with Davis:



Special thanks to Taylor Whitfield, a former Kiva Zip fellow, for providing some of the information above.

To learn more about Kiva Zip and the role of a trustee please visit:


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