It’s quite common these days to give ‘Charity’ gifts in place of ordinary gifts, especially at Christmas. Some people are notoriously difficult to buy for because they already have everything you can think of, or they’re too busy to have hobbies or maybe just too rich! So instead we give money to charity and the money is used to help to provide a well for a remote village, a goat for a family or maybe materials for a school.
With this in mind we had a look around the internet last Christmas and found something a little different. We didn’t give it as a gift in the end but kept it for ourselves.
The website we found was Lend With Care. The concept is genius. Individuals helping each other.
Entrepreneurs request loans which will help them to start or develop their small business. This could be a piece of land on which to grow crops, stock for a shop, tools to make the business more efficient or chickens to increase income from egg sales. The requests are many and varied. At the time of writing there are 94 to choose from. Any of these can be helped out of poverty with these microloans.
We chose our cause, which was a lady, Sara, who needed stock for her shop – this would increase her income which she would use to buy more stock and also pay back the loan. We decided to ‘invest’ £15, an amount we could afford to lose if necessary.
I can’t remember how much Sara needed in total but it’s usually a few hundred. We more or less forgot about it then until the emails started arriving. Sara makes regular repayments, of which we get 75p each time. To date she has repaid about half of the original loan. It’s up to us whether we take the money out or reinvest. So far we have left it in our account and will invest again.
Sadly it doesn’t make a good gift as it’s not glossy and accompanied by a Christmas card and the money goes back to the investor rather than the recipient. Possibly this could be worked around – I don’t know. Either way I think it’s a great way to give a helping hand to one who needs it.