Tuesday, 26 November 2013

I Thought I Would Paint A Picture Of Daily Life Here

Emma Chase works for the micro-finance institution MicroLoan Foundation and is currently spending three months volunteering in Zambia, where she is helping to set up the partnership between MicroLoan Foundation and Lendwithcare. She has been writing about her time in Zambia in three previous blog posts ("Home away from home", "Muddy bricks and trainers" and "If it had wheels, I travelled on it!") and here is her fourth installment. This is a re-post from the MicroLoan Foundation.

It’s 17.00 and we’ve had a power cut, and no water, since 9 a.m. It’s a daily occurrence and I thought I would take the opportunity to describe to you all what life here is like; my day-to–day routine.
I wake on average between 5 and 5.30 a.m in time with the sun, to the illusive clanging of metal somewhere nearby; I’ve tried, and failed, to identify its source, and purpose! Once up I pour myself a cup of water, boiled the previous night, and say good morning to my resident spiders – I think they are a family as this past week I’ve seen half a dozen small spiders – and they entertain me with a dance around the room. 
On the way to work – Smog and poverty
I am accustomed to life here - as I navigate my way along the side of roads, jumping out of the way when a car speeds past hooting me to move, I forget that I am many miles away from home, where life is so different. I join men in smart suits (yes, suits when it is 37degrees!) walking to work, children being taken to school by elder siblings, girls and boys with music blaring from their phones walking with the arrogance of youth, men sweeping the leaves and dead flowers away from a government building, cattle on a walk, a man on his bike with a wellington on his left and a flip flop on his right, three cyclists each carrying two dead goats on the backs of their bikes, holding my breath as passing vehicles emit large plumes of dark smoke – oh wait! Not so different after all.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines - Testimonial from CARE International's Sandra Bulling

Sandra Bulling, CARE International Emergency Communications Officer, is with CARE’s Emergency Team in the areas affected by the Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Nov. 11, 2013, 19:00 local time.

“We arrived by boat at the port in Ormoc City. As soon as we stepped onto the port, we were in the middle of a disaster zone. Everything was destroyed. Tin roofing sheets were hanging off trees like wet blankets.

“All the houses along the coast are completely flattened. Everything is destroyed. Further inland, about 80 percent of the houses are roofless. About five percent of the houses are completely collapsed – these are mainly wooden houses. It seems like everyone we’ve seen has a hammer or tools in their hands, trying to repair their houses and their roofs. People are picking up poles and pieces of wood from the street. There are long queues at hardware stores, pharmacies. We waited in line for two hours to get fuel. So far the roads are okay, but it’s taking a long time to get anywhere.

© REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Monday, 4 November 2013

Financial inclusion: How can poor people have access to the financial services they need?

2.5 billion people around the world lack access to financial services such as savings accounts, access to loans,  insurance and  bank transfers.  According to the Centre for Financial Inclusion, “Access to a range of quality financial services at affordable prices, delivered with convenience and dignity, can change the course of an individual’s, family’s, or business’s future.  A full suite of financial services should be provided with quality, to all who can use them, by a range of providers”.

CARE's Code of Conduct

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Video updates from Togo part two: collecting updates from the field

After the first part of our video updates from Togo in July, the wait is finally over! Here is part two, at last.

In my first blog about my trip to Togo, I mentioned that visiting our microfinance partner, WAGES, was of particular interest to me because of CARE’s long-standing relationship with the institution. However, the main purpose of my trip was to respond to our lenders’ desire for more updates on how their loans have impacted on the lives of the people they have supported.  So I travelled to WAGES to provide the loan officers who work with Lendwithcare some further training on how to provide updates and more specifically how they can use film to bring these updates to life.

The training was led by professional film makers Fiona Molloy and Nik Wood (the people that also put together our fab TV ad!) and I have to say the loan officers really enjoyed learning the tricks of the trade from Fiona and Nik.  They particularly enjoyed learning how shooting different kinds of footage rather than simply zooming in and out can improve a film.

These three women had specific messages they wanted to pass on to the Lendwithcare lenders:

Thursday, 24 October 2013

If It Had Wheels, I Travelled On It!

Emma Chase works for the micro-finance institution MicroLoan Foundation and is currently spending three months volunteering in Zambia, where she is helping to set up the partnership between MicroLoan Foundation and Lendwithcare. She has been writing about her time in Zambia in two previous blog posts ("Home away from home" and "Muddy bricks and trainers") and here is her third installment.

A few weeks ago I spent a day traveling to the rest of MicroLoan Zambia’s branches. Initially I was to spend a few days at each branch, but last minute training would see everyone in Chipata the following week. I travelled to Nyimba, Petauke and Katete to meet with each branch manager and brief them on the proposed procedures for Lendwithcare. My day started bright and early and by 4 a.m I was in a taxi, en route to the coach station. Little did I know that come nightfall, I would have travelled on pretty much anything that had wheels.
The coach set off to Nyimba at 5 a.m and in the 3 hours the journey took, the sun woke up and said a very impressive good morning; casting a warm orange glow over the undulating landscape until it reached its peak to settle itself high in the sky, watching over eastern Zambia.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

National Ethical Investment Week | Six reasons why a lendwithcare.org microloan makes a good investment

As National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) 2013 draws to a close and people within the sector call for “bigger, bolder, broader and better”[1] ethical investments from the UK, I have been thinking about how and indeed if, lendwithcare answers this call to action?

© CARE/Emilie Bailey

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How financial literacy can help build the market for microinsurance

by Alexa Roscoe, Private Sector Advisor, CARE International UK

© CARE/Helen Barnes

CARE International promotes microinsurance as part of the range of services and products that the poor need to help overcome poverty and reduce their vulnerability to shocks. However, we also know that as with all products, to be sustainable, any microinsurance model also needs to be profitable. Fortunately for the insurance industry and its clients, it’s being demonstrated that increasing profit and promoting financial inclusion do not have to be mutually exclusive. New research from our work in India shows that microinsurance distribution strategies that prioritize building clients’ financial literacy lead to almost three times as many new enrollments as those that do not.

To read Alexa's full blog please visit the Centre for Financial Inclusion

Monday, 30 September 2013

Promoting better health, diet and hygiene

Lendwithcare’s partners typically accompany loans with a range of other services. These include offering savings accounts, insurance and money transfer as well as providing training in basic bookkeeping, financial literacy and marketing. 

Delivery of a workshop to FACES customers by Laura Sarango 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Making loans & changing lives for three years

Three years ago CARE International UK launched its innovative peer-to-peer lending platform, lendwithcare.org with the aim of helping people in developing countries work their own way out of poverty and to promote financial inclusion among low-income sectors of the population. Through the lendwithcare website, lenders can make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them start or expand a small business.  

Since launch and with the fantastic support of The Co-operative (who put together and designed this infographic) and our wonderful lenders we are proud to say we have have achieved so much ...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Muddy Bricks and Trainers

Thank God I didn’t buy new shoes!

All the roads in the “centre” of town are paved, and although crumbling at the sides where the pedestrians walk, there is not much drama walking around. The road outside my guesthouse which leads me to one of these wonderfully, albeit crumbling paved roads, is no such vision of convenience. The road outside my guesthouse is a soil track that every day is worked upon to try and turn it into a concrete one. Every day I win/attempt to win small battles with this road. Being soil, it gets everywhere so, there is not much point in hoping I’ll arrive either at work or at home without also carrying one, maybe two coats of terracotta dust with me. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Home Away from Home in Chipata, Zambia

Emma Chase, a Microloan Foundation volunteer, has posted a great snapshot of life in Chipata, Zambia where she is currently helping to set-up the lendwithcare.org partnership.

“We would like to offer you the opportunity to travel to Zambia and help set up our lendwithcare initiative”. I received something to this account a few weeks ago whilst on holiday with my boyfriend. I immediately started grinning like a Cheshire cat, he was a little less enthusiastic. Three months working in Zambia – I was excited!

Emma's 'home away from home'
I’ve been here in Chipata, close to the Zambia/Malawi border for 4 days now and it already feels like a home away from home.

I was picked up by one of the team at MicroLoan Zambia and we drove from the airport in Lilongwe, Malawi for about 3 hours through undulating, terracotta landscape. On our drive we overtook many cyclists that populate the road carrying a variety of objects from bags of cement, bikes for repair, and more loaves of bread than a UK supermarket stores. I was lucky in that as we were approaching Chipata the sun was beginning to set and the light cast a warm glow over the town.  A lovely first impression of where I am to call my home for the next few months.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

We did it! £3m of lendwithcare loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries!

The past year has seen phenomenal growth at lendwithcare.org. At that stage we were celebrating £1m of loans made. In March this year we commemorated the doubling of that monumental amount! And I am thrilled to tell you that last week, on 30th August 2013, we smashed through that and our 3 millionth pound was lent by Sharon from Suffolk to Mrs Essowouna Simbama from Togo! Thus far, lendwithcare lenders have:
  •        Made over 80,000 loans
  •         To fully fund over 5,000 entrepreneurs
  •         From seven different developing countries

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Large loans vs small loans

You lend your money, on trust, to someone in a country far away to help them earn a living.  You choose whether to make a loan to an individual  entrepreneur like Haleema Bibi  (left) who embroiders shawls in her house in Lahore, or to people like Ricardo Santos from the Philippines, (below) who runs  a relatively established business with paid employees and a regular income. The beauty of lendwithcare.org is that the choice is yours.  

Friday, 9 August 2013

Making loans and transforming lives in Pakistan

Safiya and her husband, Khuda
Picture: © CARE
It is quite fitting that as the holiest month in the Muslim calendar, Ramadan, draws to a close this week and Muslims around the world celebrate the arrival of the new moon, we at lendwithcare.org will be celebrating the successful inclusion of our first Islamic Microfinance partner, Akhuwat in Pakistan.

Originally posted on the Department for International Development UK website, reposted here.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bonjour Yovo (Good morning stranger): Notes from a visit to Benin

  Last week I went to Benin (1). I got out of the plane in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin, as a tropical storm was receding and I was greeted by warm wet air, the sight of palm trees, the wet red soil…. and by the mosquitoes.

 The following morning, the first people who said hello to me were school children. As I made my way past them they all chimed “Good morning, Yovo.” And then smiled at me, I felt I had been welcomed.                                                           

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Video updates from Togo part one: providing small loans to the financially excluded

In April I travelled to Togo to visit WAGES, our local microfinance partner, and a number of the micro-entrepreneurs we have supported through lendwithcare.org.  It was a particularly interesting trip for me because when I first started working for CARE International back in 1997, the “Women & Associations for Gains both Economic and Social” (WAGES) project was in the process of moving away from its origins as a small-scale group lending programme set-up by CARE and was transforming into an independent Microfinance Institution (MFI). I remember how CARE’s end of project evaluation had concluded that the WAGES project  was having such a positive impact on the lives of poor women and in order to help the many more thousands of people who could benefit from micro-loans, WAGES should became an independent entity.  This is why when we set up our lendwithcare.org initiative in 2010, WAGES was an obvious choice to be one of our very first partners.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Video update | Market fires in Togo & how lendwithcare.org's microfinance partner helped

Early this year two of Togo's biggest markets, Kara and Lomé, were devastated by fire. The fires, which occurred 48 hours apart, destroyed both marketplaces and the hundreds of businesses that lay within their walls.


Lendwithcare’s microfinance partner in Togo, WAGES, told us that the fires were a huge disaster and that many market vendors had lost everything – some lost all their money as well as their stock since they had kept it in the marketplace for safekeeping. A large number of the market vendors, particularly in the Grand Market of Lomé, are clients of WAGES and were faced with the added stress of how to meet loan repayments without a way to generate an income. In this short video update, we learn how WAGES helped clients to get their businesses back up and running as well as reworked repayment schedules (often pausing repayments) to give time for businesses to recover.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Why are some microfinance loans not so 'micro'?

When asked recently by a lender why many of the loans featured on the lendwithcare.org website were rather large (often around £1,000) we explained why that might be:

1. At lendwithcare we believe that supporting small to medium enterprises (SMEs) often generates waged employment opportunities for some of the very poorest segments of the population. The latter occasionally do not even qualify for a microloan in their own right. This strategy of supporting a range of businesses we believe is more effective in tackling poverty than simply supporting one type of business.

Youth, employment and micro-credit

Chakriya Yoeur from Cambodia
Hana Yousef, recent university graduate and CARE International UK Volunteer, discusses what microfinance could mean to the rising number of unemployed young people in developing countries ...

Historically, micro-finance has never been something typically associated with youth. It seems as though the general pre-conception of young people moving around and being less likely to ‘stay put’ make them less desirable recipients of a micro-credit loan. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Following my donations

Jun Pérez, President of SEED Finance and Amy Lithgoe
It’s not often you get to know how the money you donate to charity is actually spent but today I was able to meet Jun Perez, President of SEED Finance, the Filipino partner of lendwithcare.org.  I’ve always thought the whole concept of lendwithcare.org is fantastic and was keen to find out more about how the scheme actually operates on the ground.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Living Below the Line | A photo diary

£1 for 5 days for all food and drink - could you?

For the past 3 days, 1000's of Britons have taken on the challenge to live on £1 a day for all food and drink in an attempt to deepen and widen understanding of the challenges and difficult choices faced by those living in extreme poverty.

We have been taking part in the challenge here at lendwithcare.org and as we enter into DAY FOUR I wanted to share a few of my (picture) thoughts from the challenge so far

This week I have learnt that living within an extremely tight budget means …

Monday, 22 April 2013

My Top 10 Tips to Live Below The Line

One week today the Live Below The Line challenge begins!!! 


And for those of you who are like me and slightly worried about whether you have the creativity and knowledge to eat adequately on just £1 a day. Or wonder how you are going to raise both awareness and funds for your chosen charity, I have compiled a list of TOP TEN TIPS to help you (and me) take on the challenge!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Rice production in Cambodia: the poor farmer’s perspective

Rice farming in Cambodia can be a tough and uncertain business. Rainfall is highly erratic, both drought and floods being regular occurrences, land is often infertile or under-nourished and investment in new farming systems and technology is minimal. 

Yet approximately 60% of the Cambodian population rely on agriculture (mainly rice production) for their livelihoods and unsurprisingly the vast majority of those are living on less than $1.25 a day. Despite government commitments to expand rice production and increase the country’s export capacity, the reality for the majority of farmers is stagnant growth and an uncertain future. Which is why, on a recent trip to Cambodia, I was keen to find out why so many of the entrepreneurs we have supported through lendwithcare.org are sticking to rice farming.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A woman to put 26.2 miles in perspective

Last March, I made a nervous phone call to a woman called Remzija, in rural Bosnia & Herzegovina. Last June I went to Benin to meet some inspirational entrepreneurs.
And in 2 weeks I’ll be running 26.2 miles through central London.

What do these three events have in common?  Lendwithcare.org of course!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Lendwithcare.org supports important green initiative in the Philippines!

We have added our first sustainable social enterprise loan to the lendwithcare.org website to help tricycle taxi drives to acquire cleaner engines for their tricycles.  We are supporting an initiative launched by our partner in the Philippines, SEEDFINANCE and a local company called “Clean Engines Incorporated” (CEI) to help reduce air pollution in Metropolitan Manila.  This initiative aims to encourage local tricycle taxi drivers to switch over from two-stroke petrol and diesel powered engines (highly pollutant) to environmentally-friendly liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) engines.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Women & microfinance: An International Women's Day celebration

‘She believed she could so she did’ - unknown
We all know that a lot of people around the world live in terrible conditions of poverty ...
But did you know that the great majority of them are women?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lendwithcare in Cambodia | How a growing economy impacts on the poor

Lendwithcare on location in Cambodia

Recipient of an agricultural microloan through lendwithcare
© CARE/Nancy Thomas

The last time I visited Cambodia was in 2005 and as I walked out into the humid night air and towards Phnom Penh’s visibly transforming skyline, I was eager to find out how Cambodia had changed since my last visit.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lendwithcare in the Philippines | Providing more than just microcredit

Lendwithcare on location in the Philippines

Carlito Curacha, a farmer who received a microloan through lendwithcare

© CARE/Jo Broughton

Jo Broughton, CARE International UK's PR & Communications Executive, visited lendwithcare's microfinance partner in the Philippines, SEEDFINANCE, and tells us how microfinance institutions (MFIs) can (and do) provide more than just microfinance ...