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09 September 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Company Director David Doulton travels to Tanzania to get a glimpse of how's donations to Five Talents are helping people in poverty to help themselves.

Director at, David Doulton, has travelled to Tanzania to see some of the good work that is being done with the money donated by the company to Five Talents –a microfinance loan charity which helps people to help themselves out of poverty.

FiveTalents employs the concept of microfinance to lend people small amounts of money at interest rates much lower than a bank's, which can enable them to start their own small business, support their families, and even to employ others once the business takes off.

The reason for the trip to Tanzania was to monitor the progress of the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), a project set up by Five Talents in 2007, which was created at the request of the local Archbishop who called for help on behalf of the town. It was set up exclusively for women, so that they could be more autonomous, and feel included in the day-to-day running of the family and community.

One of the poorest countries in the world, the average annual wage in Tanzania was just $1,100 when the project started, but FiveTalents is helping to change the lives of a community in the town of Iringa by giving them the means to become entrepreneurs.

Loans are usually given for around £30-£40, up to a total of about £200, and are repaid at a rate of 2.5 per cent a month, a much more affordable rate than the 20 per cent average rate charged by commercial banks. And, because the loans are repaid, they are also sustainable.

Five Talents is currently lending to more than 500 women in Iringa, enabling them to cultivate an income for themselves and their families. People's lives have been turned around by the work they do, which is why chose them as one of the charities it supports.

Mr Doulton said that being able to see the money in action made a real impact. "Seeing the end result of our company's contribution and Five Talents' hard work was massively satisfying." he said. "If not for the work of MBF, those people might not have the means to care for their families in the same way.

"Five Talents offers them the opportunity to change their lives – not through charity, but through self-sufficient loans which are repaid and then used to help more people to fulfil their potential, so often stifled by circumstance.

"For example, Zawadi Mpwepwe, a mother of three, is able to care for her family with the income she makes from a fruit and veg stall, something which probably would not have been possible without the support she received from Five Talents – not just financial, but also advisory support and encouragement.

"Just nine per cent of people in Tanzania have access to formal financial institutions, while 54 per cent of women have no access to financial services of any kind, formal or otherwise, so this really presents itself as a rare opportunity for the women of this community."

Tanzania is just one of many countries in remote areas of the world where Five Talents is starting microfinance initiatives and helping people to take charge of their own lives.