Microloan company that is changing many lives
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.