Friday, 28 April 2017

Islamic microfinance: Shari’ah compliant and sustainable?

Together with a colleague, Professor Malcolm Harper, I have just spent the past 18 months researching and editing a book on Islamic microfinancei - which is defined as Shari'ah compliant financial services for poor people. The volume examines the experiences of 15 Islamic microfinance institutions (IMFIs) from 11 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The institutions ranged from relatively small non-governmental organisations with a few hundred borrowers to large commercial institutions, such as the Islami Bank in Bangladesh which has almost one million clients. The book focuses specficially on the operating methodologies they employ, the challenges they face and their levels of financially self-sustainability. For a full description of the analysis and conclusions, I would of course, urge readers to buy the book as soon as it is published. However, I can share a few of the interesting findings.



Monday, 13 March 2017

Pakistan blog series: Learning more about Akhuwat

In February 2017 I was lucky enough to visit our microfinance partner in Pakistan, Akhuwat. Please read my series of blogs to share my experience and insights into this inspiring organisation.

If you are interested in reading more about Islamic microfinance, my colleague Dr Ajaz Ahmed Khan and renowned microfinance experience Dr Malcolm Harper will soon publish a book on Islamic microfinance, which contains a chapter on Akhuwat.


Pakistan blog series | Day 4 - Khana Nou Branch and Delhi Gate Branch: How Lendwithcare works with Akhuwat

In February 2017 I was lucky enough to visit our microfinance partner in Pakistan, Akhuwat. Please read my series of blogs to share my experience and insights into this inspiring organisation.

The borrowers at the Khana Nou branch are also funded by Lendwithcare lenders. During my visit I observed many people either making a repayment on their loan or submitting a new loan application.





Pakistan blog series | Day 3 - Akhuwat office: are they really as good as they seem?

In February 2017 I was lucky enough to visit our microfinance partner in Pakistan, Akhuwat. Please read my series of blogs to share my experience and insights into this inspiring organisation.

One of my tasks when on an evaluation trip for Lendwithcare is to ask questions from Lendwithcare supporters and potential supporters. Three questions I've been asked about our partnership with Ahkuwat are:


1. As a provider of interest-free microfinance, funded by voluntary donations*, are the donations from borrowers really voluntary or do they affect whether someone gets a loan?

2. Does Akhuwat prioritise Muslim borrowers?


3. The percentage of female borrowers is lower than in other Lendwithcare countries.


*Akhuwat encourages its borrowers to donate to Akhuwat's program to help their brethren once the borrowers themselves have gained through economic stability.



Pakistan blog series | Day 2 - Visit to Badami Bagh and Kot Khawaja Branches: meeting the entrepreneurs in person

In February 2017 I was lucky enough to visit our microfinance partner in Pakistan, Akhuwat. Please read my series of blogs to share my experience and insights into this inspirational organisation.

Funding from Lendwithcare over the last 4 years has enabled Akhuwat to open the Badami Bagh and Kot Khawaja branches in Lahore, where almost all borrowers are funded by Lendwithcare lenders. To ensure costs are kept to a minimum Akhuwat branches are very simply furnished - staff sit on cushions at a very low table, and the offices comprise just one room plus a bathroom.

While I was visiting the branches I interviewed several entrepreneurs to find out how much impact the loan has had on their business and life:


Pakistan blog series | Day 1 - Visit to Akhuwat’s office: so much more than microfinance

In February 2017 I was lucky enough to visit our microfinance partner in Pakistan, Akhuwat. Please read my series of blogs to share my experience and insights into this inspiring organisation.

As part of my job I am privileged to visit parts of the world that I wouldn't do otherwise.

One of the most memorable and inspiring trips I have taken recently was to Lahore in Pakistan. Despite the negative impression of Pakistan that the media sometimes present, it was memorable not because of danger lurking round every corner.

It was because I have never come across a more inspirational group of people than the staff of Akhuwat, led by their founder Dr Amjad Saqib.

The city and airport were much less frenetic that I'd imagined (although perhaps landing in Lahore at 2am had something to do with that!)

I had been to Delhi some years earlier and I still vividly remember how many people were at the airport.

It quickly became apparent that westerners are a rare sight in Pakistan, even in large cities such as Lahore. It took a few days to get used to being stared at, but I soon realised that as soon as I smiled, people would shyly smile back. And it wasn't long (in fact, I think it was the next morning in the hotel lift!) before I was asked for my first selfie - and it wouldn't be the last that week!


Monday, 13 February 2017

Guest blog | Tanglin Trust Junior School raise over $6,000 for Lendwithcare entrepreneurs!

As you know, through Lendwithcare lenders can support poor entrepreneurs around the world with a small loan, enabling them to start and grow their own business, and work their own way out of poverty for them and their families.

You may not be aware that it is also a fantastic tool to engage children of all ages in a wide range of topics such as global poverty, overseas aid, personal finance and entrepreneurship.

One of our biggest school supporters is the Tanglin Trust Junior School in Singapore, who have chosen Lendwithcare as their school charity project. Each class at the Tanglin Trust has their own Lendwithcare account, so the students can keep track of their own fundraising, and choose and debate in class which entrepreneurs they want to support.

Recently Tanglin Trust held a whole week of activities to raise funds to lend in class to Lendwithcare entrepreneurs, and raised an incredible $6,000!

Tanglin Trust Year 3 class