Lendwithcare is a microfinance lending website and an arm of the development charity CARE
International UK. It’s a large community of over 60,000 lenders changing lives in the developing
world with small loans. Borrowers (entrepreneurs in Lendwithcarespeak) come from low-income
countries in Africa, Asia, South America and occasionally the Middle East.

It was back in 2016 that RC Headingley was first made aware of Lendwithcare, when Pat Charlton, a
Lendwithcare Ambassador, gave the Club an after-lunch talk about the organisation. Lendwithcare
Ambassadors are, according to the organisation’s website, “a group of passionate Lendwithcare
supporters who share their positive lending experience with community groups in their area”. On
that occasion, we decided to deviate from our usual practice of giving a £50 donation to the
speaker’s charity and instead invested £50 (or to be precise, £49.50) in three of the entrepreneurs
listed on the website. The minimum loan possible is £15 and we always give a voluntary 10%
contribution with each one to help with administrative costs: 3 x £16.50 = £49.50. At that time, we
established the principle, which has stood us in good stead ever since, that those we invest in should
spread the wealth throughout their communities, either by employing others or educating children.
That was seven years ago and from that point, each time the repayments (they come in in tiny sums
often amounting to just pennies from each borrower) have built up to multiples of £16.50, we have
simply reinvested the money in new entrepreneurs. Lists of the current crop of would-be borrowers
are always on view on the Lendwithcare website. These people frequently come from agricultural
backgrounds with tiny farms or plantations – or “herds” of two or three cattle, pigs or sheep – but
also could be small-time shopkeepers or business owners. What they have in common is that they
are all bursting with ideas for improving their and their neighbours’ lots; they just need a helping
hand to get started.
Just once, impressed by our own success, we added an additional £100 to our account as a Club.
More recently, generous individual Club members have donated lump sums for us to invest and we
have started increasing the amount we lend to each entrepreneur to £30 (plus 10%). The result is that to date we have made:

91 loans and lent
£1,545; helped
351 entrepreneurs and
879 family members, while creating
849 jobs and altogether helping
2,079 people

But there’s more. Thirteen of our Club members have their own accounts and donate individually
while “attributing” their loans to the Club and thus forming a Rotary Club of Headingley Lending
Team. This team of 14 (14 because it includes the Club account as well as the 13 individuals) has to
date made

286 loans and lent
£4,721.61; helped
1,406 entrepreneurs and
3,889 family members, while creating
1,422 jobs, which altogether totals
6,717 people helped.

And to think – the Club itself has only once added a modest £100 to its original £49.50 investment. –
This surely has to be one of the finest examples ever of the old adage, “mighty oaks from little
acorns grow”.

JH 1 July 2023