How does Links Micro-enterprise Development (MED) work? 

Small loans - often amounting to the figure a UK family might spend on a takeaway meal - can change the lives of many, as they put the money to work. 

First we ask our partners to liaise with the target local community - in which they are already working - to identify a small group of women and men to be trained to run the new MED scheme. 

Once this group has been identified, Links comes and runs a short training programme for them - typically lasting three days. This equips them to set the scheme up and start to run it.  After the training they draw up their own constitution, deciding upon committee roles and opening a new bank account. An initial fund of money is transferred and the scheme can begin. The start-up fund usually enables around 10-12 loans to be given out. We encourage the committees to prioritise applicants who are amongst the poorest in their community. Whilst the committees can levy a small service charge - to keep the scheme sustainable - they do not charge interest as such, unlike many loan schemes which sometimes charge up to 100% and more. 

Loans are paid back over periods of between 3-12 months. And are they paid back? Our monitoring shows that we can conservatively state that repayment is at least 85% across all of our current schemes. In many cases, schemes report 100% repayment. 

As money is repaid new loans can be given out and, of course, Links keeps returning over the first few years of the schemes to provide top-up training for the committees. If things are going well we provide more funding, so the scheme can continue to grow. 

It's simple and it is life changing.