Third Sector Excellence Awards 2011: Website - Winner:

For the best new or relaunched website enables people in the UK to lend as little as £15 to entrepreneurs in the world's poorest countries, helping them to create businesses that could lift them out of poverty. The lenders get their money back at the end of the loan term and can then either withdraw it or reinvest in another entrepreneur.

The entrepreneurs receive 100 per cent of the loan they request because no administrative charges are deducted. Lenders can feel part of a community by posting photographs of themselves on the site, accompanied by comments explaining the reasons why they make loans.

The challenges involved in the development of the site included the complexities of making loans to entrepreneurs in countries with different currencTracey Horner, head of takes the award with [l] John Hatfield, operations director, and Jon Lucas digital project manager at the agency Bluefrog, with host Reverend Richards Colesies and exchange rates. Lenders use PayPal to move funds to or from their accounts.

The site allows lenders to promote their lending to others through an 'invite a friend' feature and downloadable promotional badges, banners and posters. Gift vouchers enable recipients to create their own account and make loans. They then receive repayments and can choose whether to retain the funds or lend them again.

Visitors to the site are not required to donate money: instead, they provide loans to support entrepreneurs and then get paid back. Lenders can withdraw their investments at any time once they have been paid back.

Care International UK developed the site in partnership with the digital fundraising agency Bluefrog. It cost £125,000 to launch and a further £76,000 was spent on project management and site marketing.

Award judge Peter Kyle, deputy chief executive of Acevo, said: "This isn't just great use of web technology - it has identified the unique characteristics of the web and harnessed them for a charitable mission."

Titus Alexander, another judge and head of campaigning at Novas Scarman, said: "This pioneering approach to social investment could take off over the next few years."


Titus Alexander - Head of campaigning, Novas Scarman

Jeremy Davis - Commercial director, Chameleon

Peter Kyle - Deputy chief executive, Acevo


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