Care International microfinance site is set up to help developing world

Donors lend cash to entrepreneurs

Shoemaker Ibu Biyah in Indonesia is seeking cash through the Lend With Care site
Shoemaker Ibu Biyah in Indonesia is seeking cash through the Lend With Care site

The aid agency Care International has developed a microfinance website designed to lend to entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The site will encourage people to lend £15 or more to entrepreneurs in any of 70 countries for projects such as market stalls and tailoring businesses. Once the loan is repaid, lenders can ask for the money back, lend it again or donate it to Care.

Care says it is the first large charity to offer individual micro-lending, although the model has been developed in the US by the microfinance organisation Kiva.

Tracey Holder, head of donor marketing at Care, said the charity hoped to attract new supporters who would not have given donations, but would be willing to lend money.

"It's potentially more sustainable than donations, because the money can be lent again and again," she said.

Holder said that money provided by people in the UK would allow microfinance lenders to offer their customers more money at lower rates. "Microfinance providers in the countries where we work often have to borrow money from commercial institutions, at commercial rates, to lend to their borrowers," she said. "This gives them a new source of funds, interest-free."

Social investment experts have said that involving well-known charities should be a key objective for encouraging social lending from the UK retail market.

"We would encourage more work on social investment by mainstream charities," said Adam Ognall, deputy chief executive of the sustainable finance organisation Uksif.

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