January 30th, 2009 - Posted by Kate

The people’s bank

Recently, we started a lending group through Kiva an organization that facilitates loans from individuals to entrepeneurs in developing countries who are looking for finance to establish or grow their businesses. It’s not charity, 98% of loans are repaid and we are then able re-loan the money to someone else.

kiva-lending

We love this idea, it’s another great example of how grass roots, community-based movements are starting to make inroads into industries and sectors that have previously been dominated by government or big business.

Below is an excerpt from a story on ABC Radio earlier this week which explores the emergence of microcredit as a powerful force for change …

Micro loans pull ‘beggars above poverty line’

They talk of enterprise rather than charity; of helping the world’s poorest trade their way out of poverty. And for the microcredit movement, 2008 has marked an important milestone. More than 106 million of the world’s poorest received small loans to kick start their entrepreneurial dreams last year.

The basic concept behind microcredit is pretty straightforward.The world’s poor and hungry receive loans for small projects, perhaps buying a cow to sell the milk or setting up a fruit stall. Most of the credit is targeted at women and peer pressure is a powerful incentive to repay.
In Kenya, Ingrid Munro founded and manages the Jamii Bora microcredit trust. Ms Munro says the trust started with 50 beggars and “most of those beggars are now well above the poverty line”. “Some climb very fast when they take their first loan,” she said. “They start with as little as $20, and when they take that first loan they can now start a very small business, selling a few vegetables, selling charcoal, something like that.

Success story

Ms Munro is something of a star in the microcredit movement. In 10 years, her organisation has organised loans worth 2.8 billion Kenyan shillings ($53 million). She says more than 98 per cent of the loans have been repaid on time. Ms Munro tells of one customer Claris D’Ambo, who was a beggar for 15 years. Nine years after receiving her first $20 loan, Ms D’Ambo owns a string of businesses that include a hair dressing salon and a herbal medicine shop. She employs eight people and, importantly, all of her children go to school. “Claris is proud and she’s not poor anymore and she’s convincing so many others that you can get out of poverty,” Ms Munro said.

Ms Munro’s successful project in Kenya is part of a surge in microcredit. Ten years ago, 8 million people received micro loans. By last year that was 106 million. And 88 million of the loans went to women. An ambitious target of 175 million loans has now been set.

Support

The movement’s founder, Muhumad Yunus, was recognised for efforts to create social and economic development with the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Some of the world’s largest public and private lenders have backed the microcredit model. Still, there is some disquiet about the boom in microcredit. Some argue the most destitute have more immediate considerations like food and shelter and may end up borrowing from less scrupulous lenders to meet their microcredit obligation. But it is not an argument Ingrid Munro has much sympathy for.

“You see you can’t just go out and tell a beggar here’s $50, get yourself out of poverty,” she said. “You have to start by talking to them, explaining to them, and making them see how others have done it and we use very much the ones who have been successful as the mentors of others.”

Adapted from a report by Nick Lucchinelli for AM on January 27 2009

If you’d like to join our Human lending group you’re most welcome, just click here and click on the “request to join” button.

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