Friday, 19 December 2014

Guest Blog - This Christmas, give the gift of giving.

This Christmas, give the gift of giving.
Posted on 30 November, 2014 by Keith Channing

Hang on; I didn’t mean that.

This Christmas, give the gift of lending.

For some months, my wife and I have been involved, in a small way, with Lendwithcare, a micro-finance organisation set up by Care International, one of the world’s leading aid and development organisations.

Microloans from CARE International UK The premise is simple: an entrepreneur in one of the world’s least affluent areas proposes a business idea to a microfinance intitution (MFI). The MFI approves the plan and grants the requested loan. The entrepreneur is then helped to construct a profile that appears on the web site. Supporters (that’s you and I) visit the site, select a profile that interests them, and make a contribution to support it. Once the full amount is reached, it is sent to the MFI, releasing their funds to support another entrepreneur.

As the supported business develops and grows, the loan is repaid, and the repayments find their way into your account with lendwithcare. You can then either withdraw them or, more likely, use them to finance another entrepreneur; and so the virtuous cycle continues.

What’s so great about this? Let me tell you what I think:

My money doesn’t go into a ‘pot'; I choose which individual or group is going to benefit from my contribution, based on a good amount of information about the applicant(s) and the business proposal. It’s personal. Many years ago, I was on an emergency blood donor list. On more than one occasion, when we were called to the hospital for an emergency bleed, we (usually only three or four of us) were introduced to the patient who would be receiving our blood. A cup of tea and a rich cream biscuit never gave that feeling!

The full amount of the loan goes to the desired recipient. There is an (optional) addition of 10% of the amount loaned to help cover the running costs,

It is a loan, not a gift; it can be re-used,

I have often heard the hackneyed ‘give a man a fish and you feed a man, teach a man to fish and you feed a family'; think what happens when you lend a man the money to buy a fishing rod, or maybe to repair or upgrade a fishing boat.

One of the people I have been privileged to support in recent months is a Togo man, married with two small children. He owns a small computer shop that provides office services such as photocopying, word processing and computer training. He also sells computer and office equipment.

He applied for a loan to buy a new photocopier and to expand his business. He is also keen to transform his small shop into a training centre, to pass his knowledge on to others. His ultimate goal is to build up his business so that he will be able to provide a better standard of living for his family.

Like most of the people I have been privileged to support, in many walks of life and across three continents, he is fully funded, and is on target with his repayments. The repayments that arrive in our account are all used for new loans.

What has all this to do with Christmas? Simply this: follow this link to, and buy your loved one, your friend, your colleague the gift that, quite literally, keeps on giving – a lendwithcare gift voucher.

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