June was a good month in so many ways. We had (and are still having) fantastic sunshine, we ran our first stall at our local summer fayre, and we reached 6 months old as a business. But the best news of all was that we were able to support 2 more small businesses in developing countries with micro-loans, allowing them to expand their businesses by buying resources they needed.
Both groups are based in Malawi, a country I lived in during my African adventure in 2010, with one group focusing on farming and the other on market trading. They applied for loans as a group / cooperative, and will then divide the loan up so each individual can use their share for their own individual small businesses. You can click through to find out more about how Chamkoma Group and Michedwe Group will use their loans.
WHY MAKE GIVING BACK A PART OF OUR BUSINESS MODEL
Maybe some of you already know the story of how I spent time in Uganda, in 2010, working with a CBO (community based organisation) in Kampala, whose purpose was to empower the community they worked in to be able to support themselves. What does empowerment actually mean? It’s not about handouts, but more about training and education (capacity building in international development parlez), strengthening their ability to grow and support themselves, without the need of external support.
I was inspired by the women who were trained and educated by one of the projects run by CLD called Thread of Life, where they would teach women to sew and make jewellery, allowing them to have craft to sell in the local craft market. These women were from Katanga Slums. No one else would give them the step up they needed to be able to support themselves with dignity until CLD came along and set up Thread of Life.
The women from Katanga Slums would finish their training, and then help recruit more women from the slums to take their place on the programme. Once trained, they would be given a small start up loan in order for them to buy the stock they needed to make their craft, which would be sold in the local craft market. And on the cycle would continue, allowing these women to stand on their own two feet, and fend for themselves and support their family.
Once back from Uganda, I was inspired to support entrepreneurs in developing countries with small businesses, and set up a personal account with Lendwithcare in 2013, and I haven’t looked back since. And now we have a corporate account with them, and can send the funds every month, which we have kept aside from the sale of each product, thanks to our customers.
You can read more about why I chose to support female entrepreneurs here.
PURCHASING WITH PURPOSE
I, personally, like to buy from a company that has some form of giving baked into their business model – my all time favourite is Toms shoes, with their one-for-one model – and I wanted to make giving a part of my business too. Conscious consumerism is the backlash against the nameless and faceless multinationals which seem to operate without a purpose beyond profit. Voting with your hard earned cash is the easiest way to help make small changes, once you know your values align to the values of the company you are buying from. I could go on and on about this, but I think I have kept you long enough. Thank you for reading this far 🙂