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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Like many things, Five Talents started in a very small way. It began its life at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 when Martin Mimms came to tell me about Five Talents. I was immediately smitten by the idea and made a donation towards. It has gone on to become a firmly established NGO in both the USA and UK – with professional staff and committed supporters. And I do want to say how much I admire the leadership of Tom Sanderson whose vision and drive is behind the success of Five Talents.
The organisation has grown quickly – raising several millions (c.£5m) in its lifetime to help support 15 Microfinance programmes around the world. I recall the setting up of the Mama Bahati project some years ago which an organization led by Brian Griffiths raised several thousands of pounds – including donations from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This was taken over by Five Talents and it is thrilling to read from Five Talents on the Web that it is now serving 3,139 women in Tanzania.
But what is micro finance? The term ‘micro-finance’ means providing very poor families with very small loans to help them engage in productive activities, or small businesses, to help them out of poverty. It is of no surprise to those of us who have visited Africa and India that it is women who have gained so much from this initiative. The former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, described it as ’a critical anti-poverty tool for the poorest, especially women’. Indeed, women have emerged as credit worthy clients, offering reliable and conscientious commitment and, in turn, micro-finance initiatives have strengthened social and human capacity of women in the family and community. I read recently that the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh offers loans to 7,000 people, 97% of whom are women. Women are transforming their own life chances and are emerging from poverty as a result.
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