We Don’t Do Loans. We Do Leverage.

What it means to empower the poor

Five Talents does not charge interest and does not provide loan capital to individuals. We used to do this, but over the years Five Talents has developed a model that we believe is much more effective at empowering the poor.

Members of a savings group for peer to peer lending in Burundi

Understanding Peer to Peer lending

Instead of using donor's gifts to make loans that could make a new entrepreneur dependent, our partners use funds donated to Five Talents to provide training and to establish and equip local groups to save and invest their own resources. These groups then provide a platform to launch and develop locally-owned businesses. This approach is effective and sustainable.

Why Leverage Lifts More Out of Poverty

Even in the world's poorest and most vulnerable areas there are existing resources that can be leveraged as communities learn to save and invest together. In Five Talents savings groups, an individual may start by saving as little as 50 cents a week. As he or she saves together with neighbors and friends in a small group, each person learns business skills and tools for financial management and business development.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”


After a short period of saving together, the group has enough funds to begin offering loans to its members. These start as small loans of $5 to $50. But these small amounts are enough to help each family start or expand their own small business. Over time these businesses grow, and the new entrepreneurs repay and recycle the funds in growing increments throughout the group.

Peer to peer lending empowers the poor

Peer to peer lending empowers the poor

The Difference Leverage Makes

By investing in training, Five Talents can mobilize and leverage local knowledge and skills to build sustainable businesses. By working with communities and in small groups, Five Talents can leverage existing social networks and capital. By using a “savings-first” approach, Five Talents can mobilize and leverage local resources to create long-term financial solutions.

Leverage means that every dollar given to Five Talents reaches more families, accomplishes more good, and delivers lasting results.

So, go ahead, make a gift to Five Talents and let your impact be leveraged:

Elizabeth's Story: The Power of Microloans in Tanzania

The farming village of Mtambula sits in the highland region of Iringa, Tanzania. There is a population of roughly 4,000 people, and like many places in East Africa, this is set to expand rapidly. At the time of writing, more than half of the community is school-aged.

In 2015, Five Talents partner in Tanzania, Mama Bahati Foundation, identified Mtambula as an area for expansion. After a period of sensitization, they started a Trust Group with just five members. The program quickly attracted interest, and membership has spiked as the women begin to recommend the group to their friends and families. At the moment, average savings per person range from as little as Tsh 40,000 (about $18) to Tsh 100,000 ($45), which demonstrates the level of poverty in the area.

Elizabeth Sanga joined the group after being persuaded by her neighbor. When asked why she joined, Elizabeth simply says that she was easily converted "due to the transformation I observed in my neighbors."


"Before I joined MBF group I suffered from a shortage of capital, [I was] out of stock and was about to close the business. Our village is so far from town that financial institutions feel reluctant to provide financial services. We used to borrow money from money lenders with higher interest rates. But now we thank God for MBF because now we can get a loan with a very affordable interest rate."

Elizabeth is a 26 year-old mother of three and a savvy businesswomen. Her children Josephine, Boniface, and Godfrey range from nine months to three years old, and when a member of the MBF team interviewed her, Elizabeth was also looking after her sister's two children.

Elizabeth's eldest child, Josephine, has just started primary school. Twenty-odd years ago, Elizabeth was doing the same, but unlike her mother, Josephine will progress well past primary school. Elizabeth said that she doesn't "have plans for further education" but would rather "make sure" that her children receive higher education levels than she did.


 After getting two weeks of pre-loan training I received my first loan in March 2015, It was Tsh 200,000 ($90) The loan was used to purchase stocks for my shop. I even remember what it was, 5 cartons of bar soap, 1bag of sugar, 1 bag of wheat flour, and other small retails stocks."

After a few years of saving small amounts and taking business loans, the Trust Group has had a tangible impact on Elizabeth's life. After one meeting, she ticks off on her hand the improvements, which range from the quality of her family's diet - which now consists of more than two meals a day - to her abilities to pay for all school costs, like uniforms, books, and other school requirements. The improvements are not limited to her domestic situation, business is going well, and Elizabeth is looking to expand her operations:

"My plan in future is to be the wholesaler in our village, I want to be a supplier to all of the retail shops within Mtambula and the nearby villages."

Learn more about Five Talents programs in Tanzania.

Special thanks to the MBF team and Five Talents UK for this interview and the accompanying photos.

Hamida's Story: More than a Survival Business


Here's an example of a micro-enterprise that has matured and expanded beyond what is sometimes called a "survival business." This stand in Iringa, Tanzania, is owned by a woman named Hamida and offers everything from soda pop to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Hamida was one of the first clients of Five Talents' partner in Tanzania, Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF) having joined in 2006.

Following the tragic death of her husband she had to find a way of supporting her children.


After attending a local meeting and seeing how friendly it was she decided to join a group. She received business training and a first loan of $30. She used this loan to invest in her fruit and vegetable stall and pay for her son's school fees.

Over the years Hamida's business has flourished and she now generates daily income of between $9-12. She saves some of this money and invests the rest in her business. She is now a trusted client and recently took out a loan of approx. $600.

Hamida says she can really see the difference that the training and support make in her life. She can now meet all of her household expenses and send her children to school.

Hamida plans to focus on making her one business stable before opening her own clothing line in the town. She also hopes to one day see the house that she started with her late husband completed.

Learn more about our programs in Tanzania.

Photos by Adam Dickens for Five Talents.

The Power of a Small Loan: Anne's Story

When she was younger, Anne showed promise in school and finished high school earlier than the average American teenager. Despite this, as an adult Anne's options were limited. She and her husband supported their family of five on a single income stream from his small tailoring business. Every shilling was spent on necessities without room for saving or investments to grow their income. Their credit history with the local commercial bank was poor so accessing business loans was impossible.


Anne joined her local Five Talents Trust Group in August 2013 on the recommendation of a close family friend. At first, Anne's savings ranged between ksh 300-ksh 350 (about $3) a month. This was the few small coins she could spare after her daily visit to the market.

After a number of months of saving and business training, Anne was invited to take a loan of ksh 5,000 ($50) from the group's pooled savings which she used to buy in a small flock of free-range chicks. By repaying this loan, Anne unlocked a much larger loan of 60,000 ksh ($600) which went towards renting a small plot of land and purchasing a larger flock of chicks consisting of both layers and broilers for eating. When we visited her in late 2015, business was going well. Anne and her husband had completed construction of their new house, and all of her three children were attending school.


Anne proudly told us 'Being in the group made me more assertive to grow from a housewife and help generate an income to support my husband. I have learned that savings regardless of how little can boost you a lot in the future and that coming together as a community can help you go far. I am proud of my growth and bringing change to my life.'

Learn more about our 1,000 Friends Program and the opportunity to bring transformation and hope to communities across Eastern Africa.

Reporting by Five Talents Kenya and Five Talents UK with Adam Dickens Photography.

The Power of Micro: A Mother's Testimony from Central Burundi

Virgnie has five children but until recently none were able to attend school.

Her eldest child never even set foot in a classroom because the family's financial conditions were so difficult. Like many in central Burundi, Virgnie faced extreme poverty. When Virgnie joined the Five Talents financial literacy program, however, things began to change.

"My status changed when I joined the savings and credit group. I am so glad because now I can send my children to school."

How did this happen?

After learning basic financial literacy and business skills, Virgnie was able to access a small loan of $14 from her savings group.

She used this loan combined with the knowledge she gained in her training to begin selling cassava, banana and vegetables. Eventually she began providing produce to two local restaurants.

"With the profit, I have improved my family life", Virgnie says.

During the first year of her new business she was able to send two of her children to school, covering the school fees as well as the cost of uniform, shoes, and stationaries from her profits.

(Above: Virgnie's neighbors and members of her savings group gather for a meeting)

Virgnie hopes to expand her business and plans for her other children to join school in the near future. Her neighbors have taken notice of the change and began asking her for advice.

"I am a role model in my community and even my neighbors have [now] joined savings groups", Virgnie says.

Walk with us and help more women like Virgnie build a brighter future for their families. Click here to donate now.

Building a Better Business and Marriage: Sumarti's Story

Sumarti, a mother of five in Indonesia, runs a small canteen selling local food, pancakes and ice pops, turning her favorite hobby into a micro-business. "What I like to do in my life is cooking. It is something I will do until I grow old," she said.

Since joining a loan group in Jakarta, she has used micro-business loans of $85 to slowly develop and expand her business. She has also participated in business skills training workshops.

One of the best parts of the Five Talents program for Sumarti was a seminar on how to be a wise woman. Her marriage had been in trouble, and her husband, who was out of work, was often short-tempered.

"At the time when my husband had been out of work and easily lost his temper, we were thinking of going for a divorce. I remember my children and they were the reason why I had to bear with the situation. I had to keep my patience and to hold on. The loan from Gerhati did help me during difficult times; it kept me going."

"I got help from that seminar. It reminded me to be in a position that would sustain my relationship and get along with my husband," Sumarti said.

Today, her marriage is stronger than ever before. And having learned some valuable lessons, she has been able to mentor other women and help them through their own marital troubles. "I have gone through ups and downs in this life," Sumarti said.

"I help others by sharing my life with them."

Learn more about Five Talents work in Indonesia to empower entrepreneurs.

Rose Says 'Thank You' to Five Talents


Rose sells garments and shoes at a market stall. To purchase much of the stock in her stall, she took out a loan of 20,000 KES (US $200). While this may not seem like a lot of money, it is a colossal figure for many small business owners in Kenya, especially for those who lack access to banks and financial services.

Rose estimates it will take her about 10 months to repay the loan. Members of her savings trust group, encourage her during their weekly meetings. Group members share advice, discuss their businesses, and help market one another's work. They also learn vital skills in business management and development.

Without the loan, Rose says that she would not have been able to open the market stall and provide a livelihood for herself and her young son.

When you support Five Talents, you help entrepreneurs like Rose build a brighter future for their families through training, mentorship, savings, and community development.

Make a gift to Five Talents today and create a better tomorrow for entrepreneurs and their families.