The world has deep poverty amid plenty.
- 50% of the world’s population of 6 billion people survives on less than $2 a day.
- 20% of the world’s population survives on less than $1 a day.
- 20% of the world’s children never reach their fifth birthday.
- 50% of the world’s children suffer from some form of malnourishment. Source: United Nations Development Report
Read more about the Millennium Development Goals.
Five Talents fights poverty, creates jobs and transforms lives, empowering the poor using innovative savings and microcredit programs, business training and spiritual development.
The basis for our name, Matthew 25:14-30 says “Master,” he said, “You have entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
We carry out this mission in partnership with the Anglican Communion. Read more about our networks.
- Fund savings and microcredit programs.
- Provide technical assistance.
- Provide educational opportunities.
- Coordinate Business as Mission trips for professionals desiring to share their talents with entrepreneurs in developing countries.
- Focus on holistic development of entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Read more about How We Work.
- Nearly 500,000 men and women have been impacted since 1999.
- Almost $5 million has been invested.
- Now supporting 12 programs in 11 countries including Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Tanzania, Bolivia and Peru.
- Repayment rates average 95%.
- Expanding each year!
To understand our impact, read our Stories of Transformation.
Microenterprise development encompasses several aspects of Five Talents programs, and serves as an efficient way to help enterprising individuals in developing countries break out of poverty with just a small amount of money. Providing poor entrepreneurs with capital and training them to start and expand small businesses creates income for healthcare, education and food on the table. And, it brings the parable of Matthew 25, our namesake, to life.
Read more about microfinance in Resources.
You can make an enormous difference. Microenterprise development is a very efficient way to help people.
- On average, one job is created per every $100 loaned.
- Each job supports about nine people.
- Loans regenerated twice a year on average.
Learn about opportunities to Volunteer.
Support a program today by Donating Now.
The Christian church has a very strong presence in Africa (approx. 50 million members), and the network also covers all of Asia and South and Central America (though less strong). This provides a powerful means to identify local partners – benefiting entire communities and not just Christians.
“Christian institutions are rooted in their communities. They have developed a credible leadership familiar with the needs of the poor, familiar with cultures, histories and contexts of its people. Religious communities approach their development work from a unique perspective that reinforces the moral and ethical values systems of these communities.” (World Bank, Faith in Development 2001)
Loan clients can have any or no religious background. We do not discriminate in who can access our services. Our values are founded in the Christian faith (Anglican denomination), emphasizing integrity, good stewardship and service to the poor. Our leadership in the United States and overseas consists of Christian professionals with skills to provide a quality service. Our savings and microcredit programs are usually linked to an Anglican church as a means of reaching the poor in the community and providing local accountability.
Five Talents appoints a program officer who is responsible for each program and organizes one site visit a year with partners. Five Talents also receives quarterly financial reports and semi-annual narrative reports from the partner. (The Uganda program has its own board of directors, but Five Talents keeps one FT-US board member and one FT-UK board member on the FT-Uganda board.)
If you restrict your gift to the loan fund or training fund, then all the money will go overseas for the loans or training programs. If it is restricted for the administration fund, it will be spent in the United States on publicity, staff, overhead, etc., which is necessary to facilitate the programs. General donations will be allocated to the greatest need.
For existing loan programs (e.g. Indonesia), new donations will increase the loan capital available for loans, enabling more clients and bigger loans. For new loans programs, some of your donation will be used to set up the office and pay local staff.
Make your gift to a Five Talents program by Donating Now.
Rates vary from country to country and are not always an appropriate measure. In Uganda, a group borrowing $282 must pay a charge of $51 over six months. This includes the application fee, business training and monitoring. Fees are set to cover local running costs, such as the salary of the loans officers, fuel, and office expenses in order to be self-sustaining. The feedback from most clients is that they can afford to pay back the loans with fees. After paying back in full, most clients apply for second and subsequent loans.
Inital loan sizes range from $3 per person to $175 per person. The loan itself is made to a group of five to 10 entrepreneurs who each take their share of the loan and who all co-guarantee the repayment schedule. The average monthly wage in Uganda in 2009 was around $28 per month, so a $56 loan repaid over six months is a significant cash-injection to a small business. Loan sizes grow with subsequent loan cycles.
In 2011, the repayment rate across our 12 programs averages at 95% repayment. The rates can go up and down over time. Where loans are repaid late, the loan officers continue to follow them up, until such time as they are written off as a bad debt. A critical factor in achieving high repayment rates is wise group selection and follow-up by the loan officers. As we expand the reach of Five Talents to new clients and new programs, this is always going to be a challenging area. But we anticipate some defaulters as a consequence of funding start-ups and working with the poor.
Yes, but it depends on repayment rates (see above). The loan capital in each program is loaned out to groups, and repaid by groups with interest, repeatedly. In a mature program, the interest meets 100% of the running costs of the program, leaving the loan capital intact. In some cases, the interest can exceed the running costs (e.g. 110%) in which case the local program committee can decide whether to buy a piece of equipment for the office (e.g. a computer or a motorbike), or save it for reserves, or transfer the excess to the loan account. In other cases, the interest is insufficient to cover all running costs and the shortfall is met by funds from the Five Talents office (for young programs) or from the loan capital (for under-performing programs). This is carefully monitored through monthly reporting by both the local program committees and by the Five Talents office.
The majority of businesses are in food production and sales, street vending, brick manufacturing, shoe making, carpentry, auto repair, beauty salons, office services and tailoring. These businesses are essential to communities we serve and provide nothing less than survival for families.
The candidates for loan programs are chosen by our local delivery partner organizations, which are operated by indigenous staff. The partner loan officers on the front line visit communities, organize groups of 10-15 people -- primarily women -- and educate them about the program. There is an application process that includes a photo. Those who are selected have a business or a solid business plan and have the capability to pay back the loan, which usually has a six-month term. The loan officers then meet with the groups on a regular basis to work with them on the successes and challenges of business.
Since 1999, we have given out 120,000 loans. About 91% of our program participants are women. We have found, in line with other micro-finance institutions, that women, on average, have higher repayment rates than men. We are glad to empower women in this way, especially in view of the following quote from the former President of Tanzania: “When you educate a man, you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman you educate an entire family and a nation.”
Read our Stories of Transformation.
In all of Five Talents' programs, groups are the primary unit in which women participate. These groups are circles of support and knowledge that nurture relationships between and among women. Five Talents has witnessed what academic research has proven — that empowering a woman empowers an entire family and community. Women in Five Talents' programs are becoming literate and sending their children to school, including their daughters, who many times are the last ones to attend school if the family is poor. They are not only becoming entrepreneurs and savers, they are training other women (and men) in business skills. Women in Five Talents' programs are growing in self-esteem. They are becoming community leaders, who advocate for policies and programs that benefit not only women, but families and entire communities. Read their stories on our website. The empowerment of women is at the core of our mission.
The active poor are those below the poverty line (defined as $1.25 a day) who are seeking to help themselves through employment or self-employment. Most Five Talents programs are located in poor areas, and the active poor join the programs through self-selection. Loan officers occasionally reject applications from middle-class entrepreneurs seeking loans, even though such clients might be easy “profit centers.” In most cases the middle classes prefer individual loans and they do not want to co-guarantee loans in a group methodology.
- In programs that are based on group savings and lending.
- In programs that can demonstrate the potential for impact on the socio-economic status of individuals and communities.
- In programs where Five Talents can address the needs of poor populations otherwise underserved by the commercial microcredit industry.
- In programs where the local Anglican church provides a link to those populations.
- In programs where Five Talents can play a leadership role and help them become self-sufficient and achieve meaningful scale.
- In programs where Five Talents can collaborate with other Christian micro-economic development infrastructure pertners who believe an integrated (holistic) approach is necessary to meet the development needs in the community.