FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2001
Five Talents International
P.O. Box 331
Vienna, VA 22183
Five Talents International Makes First African Grant, Opens Regional Office in Uganda
Eighty-three poor entrepreneurs in Uganda received the first microcredit loans given in Africa by Five Talents International, an Anglican initiative to combat poverty in developing countries using micro-enterprise development. The organization also opened an East African regional office and hired the Reverend Jonathan Byamugisha, a recent graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, as regional coordinator.
Five Talents launched its African program with a $15,000 grant to the Anglican Church of Uganda’s Diocese of Kigezi to fund the micro loans to 83 clients – 41 women and 42 men – in eight communities.
“We have a wonderful group of enthusiastic entrepreneurs,” said Craig Cole, executive director of Five Talents. “They run small businesses that include different types of shops, spare parts sales, stationery printing, brick making and rabbit raising. We’ve made loans in small amounts, $50-200, to help them start or expand their businesses. It’s incredible how such a small amount can make such a huge difference in people’s lives.”
For the first two months, loan recipients were trained on how to run a small business, a first for many of them. “We have resources, but lacked the knowledge and the skills,” said one poor entrepreneur. Another compared the church’s microcredit program to Jesus feeding the 5000.
The groups not only receive training and the loan capital, they also participate in weekly Bible studies. The first Bible study was based on the Five Talents parable (Matthew 25: 14-30) and the importance of spiritual development along with economic development. “Spiritual development is very necessary because our lives are valuable,” said Nnalongo Tumusiime Twino, one of the beneficiaries.
The project office is in Kabale, a university town in southwestern Uganda about 13 miles from the Rwandan border, where food shortages, sanitation problems and illiteracy plague the residents. To qualify for a Five Talents loan, recipients have to live in the community for at least two years, be mature and motivated, be willing to participate in small business training, have not previously defaulted on a loan, and have already saved an amount equal to 30 percent of the loan. Priority is given to women because their needs are typically so great and they are less likely to be eligible for other programs. All loan programs include a strong spiritual component, and loan repayment is a group responsibility, with regular meetings to share experiences. The second phase of the program is scheduled to be completed by Christmas, with a second $15,000 grant to help another 80 poor families. However, there are more than 400 on the waiting list.