To mark today’s fourth birthday of Microloan Foundation Australia, we asked some of our board members to explain in their own words what it meant to them…
Brian Keen, Founder
It’s inspiring to be celebrating our fourth birthday here at MicroLoan Foundation Australia, and blowing out the candles leaves me near to breathless – and unashamedly I feel a tear rolling down my cheek!
Pausing briefly to reflect on our past achievements and consider our future initiatives I am simply amazed.
Emerging from a simple ‘dream’ less than five years ago, by 31st of December 2012 we placed 7920 loans to a value of A$539,406 and it is frankly mind-blowing. Recognising that this has had beneficial impact on over 20,000 dependents clearly illustrates the huge impact relatively small contributions can make.
I say this because since May 2009, when our Mulanje office first opened for business, to December 2012, we raised around A$90,000. In our circumstances, as a fledgling charity without access to tax deductibility in the early stages, this scale of fundraising is quite an achievement. Especially when you think of the large number of loans this $90,000 has generated – in fact our average loan fund loans over the last four a half years has been ‘recycled’ nine times, affecting 20,000 dependents. This truly is the ‘hidden secret’ behind well-targeted, efficient and effectively managed social micro-finance.
For this achievement MicroLoan Foundation Australia has a long list of people to thank.
- Our donors of course, without whom we could not provide the assistance we do. None can be singled out but I specially mention our regular monthly donors as well as acknowledging our gratitude to the individuals and organisations that have sought us out to benefit from their fundraising endeavours
- Our small but loyal group of Australian board members and volunteers, each sacrificing their invaluable time to provide a few hours of assistance here and there
- Our CEO and ‘driver’ for the past three years, Clive Hughes
- Peter Ryan, the founder and CEO of Microloan Foundation in the UK, together with his small hard-working team
- Our generous Australian patron Simon Tedeschi and his colleague Kevin Hunt
- The wonderful team of Malawian staff who exclusively manage the program for our Mulanje office
- And last but by no means the least, the wonderful women who use these loans to illustrate to us the amazing entrepreneurial initiative and energy inherent in the women in these resilient, poor, undernourished regions unfortunately so prevalent in sub-Sahara Africa – you inspire us all!
Finally, I’d like to let you know, that at Microloan Foundation we have reached a tipping point. It is significant and exciting for us to appoint our first paid team member, Kirsten Shearn as part-time Fund Raising and Marketing Manager.
We are privileged to have services of Kirsten who brings wonderful experience and impressive energy to the team. Kirsten in her first month on board has already developed a bold fund raising program focused on attracting major donors and is leading our first group from Australia to visit Malawi in October this year.
I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be involved. Thank you!
The sentiments noted then, still apply today. I hope you enjoy it.
Since 2009, we raised our $90,000 funding target in December 2012. MicroLoan Malawi delivered close to 8,000 loans worth more than A$ half a million in the 3.5 year period to December 2012, affecting the lives of over 20,000 people. Less than A$500 has been written off as bad debts – or in other words 99.9% of all loans were repaid in full – which isn’t bad for some of the poorest people in the world.
It is worth noting that over the last 4 years, in Australia funds have been raised by the efforts of: two international pianists; more than a hundred painters and sculptors; a pair of retired brothers who climbed the highest mountain in Africa; as well as the combined efforts of many volunteers and of course a multiplicity of donors, who gave freely of their own money. We thank you all for your efforts.
Today, our first paid staff member who is making great strives for us in WA, and in NSW we will shortly be presenting to the NSW Department of Studies to see if we can introduce the concept of micro credit and the MicroLoan Foundation to high school students in this state.
I was born in Malawi, so was my grandfather and mum. I left when I was a baby but I always wanted to get back there. In 1994 I travelled through East Africa and when I arrived at the Malawi/Tanzania border and the man said welcome home, I cried. I am so happy that I can be involved in the fantastic work that MicroLoan Foundation is doing to help the women of Malawi. Women who are working so hard to survive droughts, disease and extreme poverty.
If I, or any member of my community could contribute just a small amount that makes a difference to help people out of that cycle, and failed to do it, then I think we would be “looking the other way” when we shouldn’t be.
I hope, by being part of MLF Australia, I have stopped myself “looking the other way”.
…and finally a few words from the founder of Microloan Foundation in the UK, Peter Ryan:
Well done Australia! You have done some outstanding of work over the past four years. Starting from scratch is no mean task and your commitment and professionalism is to be admired. You are changing the lives of 000’s of women in Africa, and what s great is that you have all willingly given your time for free.
All of us in London are so proud with what you have achieved. We are confident that you will encourage your Australian friends to do much more in the future.
With all best wishes.