How we work
Five Talents provides savings schemes, literacy training, numeracy training and business training for those in need in rural Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo. We make use of a modern, hybrid form of savings and credit based microfinance that relies on local partners, enterprising clients, and an innovative use of technology.
We are the Anglican Church's microfinance charity, founded as a Christian response to global poverty - but of course people of all faiths (and none) join our programmes and we never evangelise.
One of the most important things you need to know is that all of our programmes operate through experienced local partners. These are the people who understand the needs and aspirations of their members and are trusted intimately within their local communities. We see this is one of the central reasons for our growth over the past decade.
Just imagine for a second what your life would be like without a bank account. No current or savings account. Could you function?
In the West most people have multiple accounts across a range of banks, and it’s difficult to envisage a world in which simple financial services like savings and loans are out of reach. The reality in rural sub-Saharan Africa is very different to our own.
In Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and DR Congo most local banks cannot afford to lend small sums of money to local would-be entrepreneurs who have little or no collateral. The risks are simply too high. Large banks even find it difficult to provide affordable and convenient savings services for communities at the bottom of the economic ladder.
A solution to the problem
The solution to this situation is the group saving and lending methodology which Five Talents employs across its programmes. Each Trust Group is formed of 5-50 Cell Groups, each of which consist of around 5 people.
To begin with, each Cell Group begins saving regularly. Individuals either bring cash to weekly or monthly meetings or, as is increasingly the case, visit a local kiosk to deposit their savings in the form of a credit on their mobile money account (such as M-Pesa - see glossary).
Depending on the type of programme, members can save flexibly or deposit fixed amounts to qualify for loans. This is a sign of commitment and helps embed the discipline of putting aside money for savings and repayments.
The Five Talents Model
All of our programmes are designed by our partners and adapted to the local needs, but each follows a basic model that has been developed over the past ten years.
Our local partners travel to small communities, explain the benefits of savings groups, and invite interested members to form a group. The group elects its own leaders and makes its own rules.
We train group members in literacy, numeracy and business skills, tailoring the training package to local needs.
After six months of saving, some members apply to the group for loans to invest in their microenterprises. They share business plans with their group and must also gather a small cell of friends as co-guarantors.
The group decides who to make loans to, and sets the interest rate - which is significantly below market rates.
As the loans are repaid, the money is returned to the group’s savings pot and a new cycle of loans can begin - the group’s funds are continuously revolving.
The interest paid by members on their loans is kept within the group and shared out to all members as an annual dividend. This means savers benefit even if they have not yet taken a loan.
The groups eventually graduate and become fully self-sustaining, continuing to operate as Five Talents begins supporting work in new, unreached areas. Members keep saving and loaning together, and their businesses and family lives improve dramatically.