By Maggie James
One year ago, I became a full-time novelist. Those who know me will understand how happy that makes me! I am incredibly lucky and privileged to do what I love for a living, and I'm keen to give something back.
Here's what I do. At the end of every month, Amazon credits my earnings from my book sales into my bank account; I then take 10% and donate it to charity. However, I wanted to do something a little different other than making an online donation every month. Enter Lendwithcare, a microfinance institution. For those of you who haven't come across the concept before, here's a brief explanation.
Microfinance is a great way to help some of the world’s poorest people work their way out of poverty. Lendwithcare allows donors to lend as little as £15 to fund a small business; once the money is repaid they can recycle the loan to support someone else or withdraw the money. 100% of the funds loaned through Lendwithcare goes to the entrepreneur; the organisation is financed via donations, and every time I make a loan I also give to Lendwithcare as well.
Is it ethical? Yes. Lendwithcare only partners with microfinance institutions that charge fair interest rates, as well as reviewing loans to ensure the recipient businesses are socially responsible, ethical and environmentally friendly.
What sort of people does Lendwithcare help?
So whom is microfinance aimed at? It's designed for poor and low-income people who have limited or no access to the services provided by institutions such as banks. Since few salaried work opportunities exist, loan recipients are usually self-employed microentrepreneurs working from home. They operate businesses such as grocery shops, market stalls, car workshops and agricultural pursuits such as raising livestock and growing food. Around two-thirds of microfinance recipients worldwide are women.
I love Lendwithcare because I can see exactly where my money goes and whom it helps. Once I log into the website, my dashboard informs me that so far I've assisted 22 entrepreneurs, in turn benefitting 62 family members and creating 24 jobs. This month I loaned money to a Pakistani man so he could repair his rickshaw and to a Pakistani woman to purchase supplies for her textile business.
How do I choose whom to help? After my trip to Asia earlier this year, I supported a lot of people from Cambodia because I enjoyed my travels there so much. Sometimes I pick entrepreneurs who are close to being fully funded for the loans they require; it's great to get an email telling me that someone I've chosen now has the loan they require. It doesn't really matter - whatever my criteria, my money goes to help those who need it.
What makes it even better is that, as the loans get repaid, I can then use that money to finance new ones. The funds get recycled, so as time progresses the amount I contribute increases. A win all round! It is a pleasure to send money to my Lendwithcare account each month.
Thank you to those people who have bought my books, because you've made this possible. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you.
Want to know more?
Like to get involved? Click this link to go the the Lendwithcare website, where you can donate as little as £15 to someone less fortunate.
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