Monday, 24 October 2011

Take care with microloans...

What do you think when you hear the term "microloan"?

For me it conjures up the world of the barefoot banker and Grameen Bank, which pioneered the business of providing small loans to the rural poor in Bangladesh.

Grameen and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

So it was surprising to see a high cost loan company, Ferratum, marketing itself in the UK as a provider of microloans.

Ferratum lends out cash at an APR of 3113%, by no means the highest rate among payday loan companies, but pretty high.

"Microloan" sounds nicer than "payday loan", doesn't it, like they're so helpful? But, clearly, you need to be on your guard.

To mark this discovery, here are three providers of microloans.

1. The Microloan Foundation.
London-based charity which provides small loans, averaging £65, in Malawi and more recently Zambia, to help people start businesses and feed their families.
If you borrowed £100 from them for 4 months, you'd pay back £120.

2. Fair Finance
A social business, offering microloans to people and small businesses in Hackney.
If you took out a £750 personal loan, you would pay back £1007 after 18 months.
They say the APR is 48%.

3. Ferratum
Payday loan firm from Finland, opened in the UK 4 months ago.
"Microloans" are repayable between 7 and 45 days. First time customers are limited to £100.
£100 costs £5 a week or £33 for a month.
But annually that works at the APR of 3113%.

I know which ones I prefer...

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