Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Guest blog | The effect of El Niño in Malawi


Since mid-2015 now, the world has witnessed one of the strongest weather events of El Niño – a global weather phenomenon that affects rain patterns and temperatures around the world. It has triggered droughts and floods across Africa, Asia and Latin America, and now nearly 100 million people are facing shortages of food and water, and are open to disease. Malawi is suffering from its first maize deficit in a decade, driving prices 73% higher than they were in December.

We at Lendwithcare asked Danny, who volunteers at our microfinance partner organisation in Malawi, how the recent droughts were affecting the country, and in particular, borrowers:

Guest Blog | The effect of El Niño in Zimbabwe


Old Marimba entrepreneur group (18800) in Harare, Zimbabwe
You may have been reading various headlines recently about the impact of El Niño in several countries around the world. El Niño is a global weather phenomenon that affects rain patterns and temperatures around the world, and can cause drought and food crises in countries reaching from Papua New Guinea to South America to Ethiopia. One of the latest countries to be badly affected is Zimbabwe, which has announced a state of disaster following the severe droughts that have recently devastated harvests and caused food prices to soar. We at Lendwithcare asked Henry at our microfinance partner Thrive just how the country, and in particular Thrive’s borrowers, have been affected:

Monday, 14 December 2015

Guest Blog | Lend Me Your Ears

This post was written by Tim Bishop and originally posted on his Definitely Maybe blog. It has been reposted here with permission.

Hoa Binh Province
Christmas is coming and there’s no stopping it. Even here in Saigon the Vietnamese have started to embrace what has become an indulgent festival of consumption, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

And, at this time every year, people like me pen blogs like this one, instigated to push a perspective your way. People like me who (you’ll soon enough not be surprised to read) have just spent half my week up in rural Vietnam, meeting local communities.

So, what’s the perspective I’m peddling ? Well, no doubt by the end of this post I will have worked it out…

Thursday, 5 November 2015

More than just microfinance | Helping poor farmers in the Philippines recover from disaster and build security for the future

This is Arlene Montejo, a small-scale farmer from the beautiful yet isolated mountain village of Sudlon II on the outskirts of Cebu City in the Philippines. Arlene, like millions of poor people around the world, relies solely on farming to generate an income and support her family. She grows a variety of vegetables including lettuces, cabbages, cucumbers and aubergines. When I met Arlene at her farm two weeks ago she told me that lettuce is the most popular item, selling an average of 300kg a week.

Arelene Montejo, farming entrepreneur working with our partner in the Philippines

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

It’s Financial Inclusion 2020 Week – but what happened to microfinance?

This week you may notice a lot of online discussion and social media chatter about financial inclusion, and how we ensure that low- and moderate-income people around the world have access to a full suite of quality financial services. And while this conversation is important, and this week gives those of us working in the sector the opportunity to galvanise support and mobilise action, it dawned on me that some people might be wondering: “What ever happened to microfinance?”



Thursday, 15 October 2015

Better evidence means less poverty

The primary purpose of Lendwithcare is to help poor people to improve their lives through supporting them to access loans for their businesses. Do we actually have any evidence that this is happening? Certainly, we have a great deal of anecdotal evidence – in addition to the periodic updates that we receive from some of the microentrepreneurs that we have funded, each year my colleagues and I also visit and speak with hundreds of individuals and groups who Lendwithcare supports in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Although we do come across some persons for whom nothing much seems to have changed, more often than not they explain to us how access to loans over an extended period of time has enabled them to develop their businesses, stabilise or increase their incomes, increased their self-confidence, self-esteem and economic independence, make improvements to their homes, and sometimes as a result even spend more money in areas such as their children’s education and the health of their families.

However, this approach is not particularly scientific – there are often other important reasons aside from improved access to loans why their lives have improved, it might be that we are simply meeting the more ‘successful’ microentrepreneurs, people are simply being polite, or they are telling us what they think we want to hear.

Ghulam Raza interviewing an entrepreneur at Akhuvat

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Right Type of Microfinance


Nyangu Sakala, who was supported by a loan from Lendwithcare

In recent years there’s been a steady stream of media articles questioning the benefits of microfinance, with some critics even arguing that not only does microfinance not benefit the poor, it actually makes them poorer. How should those of us involved in supporting the access of poor people to financial services respond? Is what we are doing actually helping the poor? Is the criticism of microfinance justified? Here are some personal thoughts.