Blog by Shukla Chattopadhyay, SI South Kolkata, India
Lendwithcare has quite a presence on the Programmes page of the HUB! Many Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) clubs work with Lendwithcare to help microfinance women’s initiatives.
I was expectantly waiting for Lendwithcare CEO Tracey Horner, Keynote Speaker for the day, to come on stage. And she sure kept us all enthralled with stories of her adventures, of cycling, and of getting women’s initiatives up and going across the globe. Lendwithcare addresses more than 12,000 women in over a hundred countries.
She talked to us about her first cycling trip in Vietnam which had promptly acquired 2000 followers on LinkedIn.
Tracey Horner had already been working with Care International, UK for fifteen years when she started on this new initiative Lendwithcare in 2010, thirteen years ago. This organization worked towards microfinancing women with very low resources especially in developing countries. Horner gave us an example of an extremely skilled woman doing intricate embroidery who did not have enough money to buy herself a machine. Hence, she was working for others, and despite her talent, was unable to make money. Lendwithcare provided her microcredit to enable her to buy herself a sewing machine which was equipped to embroider. Soon enough, this beneficiary transformed into the owner of a small business. Paying back the loan in small instalments is doable and raises self-esteem and confidence of the beneficiaries.
There were more such stories about helping women from Afghanistan, Zambia, Pakistan to name just a few, to set up small businesses of their own with small microcredit loans. Lendwithcare also caters to micro insurance and savings schemes. Tracey shared a story of traditional maize farmers in Zambia who had lean periods of practically zero income since revenue from this crop is seasonal. In fact, they would have to pull their children out of school during the lean season. Well, Lendwithcare micro financing schemes helped these farmers invest in cultivating tomatoes which have great selling value, that immediately gave these women continuous income throughout the year, irrespective of harvesting seasons. The greatest benefit was to the children whose schooling now continued uninterrupted.
80% of Lendwithcare loans are granted to women. Why, you may well ask. They have seen that loans to women are almost always used on schemes that benefit family. Loans are repaid in a timely manner, which again forms the fund for more microcredit loans to other needy women. Projects related to food and crops also address issues of Climate Change and Zero Hunger as has been seen in Malawi.
There are 47 Soroptimist accounts spanning a fund base of 30,000 GBP. Lendwithcare provides microcredit loans to impoverished women in twelve low-income countries. Responding to an audience question regarding rates of interest, Tracey Horner said that interest rates vary from country to country. However, one loan account is totally interest free since it is funded by a donation.
Tracey Horner had started her career with World Wildlife Fund where she had gained experience in fundraising. Now as Head of Lendwithcare, she organizes micro funding for those that need it most, to enable and empower these women to become small business owners.