Mi­croloan com­pany that is chang­ing many lives

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

DRAGONS’ Den star Deb­o­rah Meaden has re­vealed how lend­ing to en­trepreneurs in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries reaf­firmed the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity in her own busi­ness ven­tures.

The BBC TV in­vestor, an am­bas­sador for the mi­cro-fi­nanc­ing scheme lend­with­care, said see­ing how small loans were help­ing peo­ple try­ing to work their way out of poverty had brought com­mu­nity “back to the fore­front” of her mind.

Call­ing on Brits to unite in fes­tive gen­eros­ity, she said char­ity pro­grammes such as Care In­ter­na­tional’s were par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in a so­ci­ety di­vided over Brexit.

The ini­tia­tive has seen more than £21 mil­lion lent to mainly fe­male en­trepreneurs in some of the poor­est global com­mu­ni­ties since its 2011 launch.

More than 52,000 lenders have taken part – the vast ma­jor­ity from the UK.

Meaden, who set up a glass and ceram­ics im­port com­pany aged 19, met women in Cam­bo­dia whose busi­nesses were be­gin­ning to thrive.

Asked if she felt her in­volve­ment has changed her, Meaden said: “I think it has. I’m al­ways say­ing busi­ness should be used as a force for good.

“It just re­in­forced my view that busi­ness does and should add to the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly now when we’re all quite di­vided. ”

Kerry Fletcher, from Winch­ester, is one of the scheme’s most pro­lific lenders, hav­ing made 291 loans that have helped 2,424 en­trepreneurs.

Her ini­tial loans, which amount to £1,100, have in­creased al­most ten­fold through rein­vest­ment to £10,836, cre­at­ing 432 jobs.

The 48-year-old said it was “re­ally quite amaz­ing” to see how her money had trans­formed lives.

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