Wednesday, January 13, 2010 now offering microloans to world artisans

Obtaining capital to run a small business is tough enough in this economy, but imagine being an entrepreneur in an underdeveloped country where funding is nonexistent.

A couple months back, I wrote a post on Novica, in association with National Geographic, provides a platform for artists and artisans from underprivileged nations to sell their wares--including home decor items, handbags, jewelry and other gifts--to a global audience.

Now, in an effort to further support these artisans, Novica has launched the first-ever microfinance or microcredit website where customers can purchase products and lend money directly to artisans. Microcredit is the extension of very small loans to those in poverty and is designed to spur entrepreneurship. When Novica tried to put artisans in touch with microfinance institutions, most could not obtain loans and when they did, the interest rates were too high. Novica decided to cut out the financial middleman and offer the loans on the website.

Just click on the Novica Artisan Loans button on the lefthand side of the home page, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on View All Available Loans. You then will see the list of all artisan loan requests along with a brief biography. If you are interested in loaning to an artist, simply click on the Donate Now button next to their biography. When a specific loan request is completely filled, Novica releases the funds to the artisan through their local office. The artisan repays the interest-free loan based on the repayment terms and at the end of the loan period the lenders receive their funds back. As with any loan, there is a slight risk that you will not get your money back; however, all artisans selected for the loan program are actively selling on Novica and are believed to not pose any threat of defaulting.

Many artisans in the Novica microfinance program already have had their loans fully funded and are now using the funds to purchase materials to continue their craft. One such artist, Sukartini, recently received her funds.

"Today I work together with local silversmiths to promote Bali's beauty in our own way," she said. "We make different kinds of jewelry, mostly with sterling silver, in both traditional and modern styles. I was fortunate to find Novica, a place where small artisans like me can share our new ideas and designs, and have a chance to be appreciated by people from all over the world."

Now is the perfect time to show your appreciation for the many talented artisans featured on the Novica site--either through purchasing their handiwork or by helping them fulfill their dream through the Artisan Loan Program. Stop by the site, and experience for yourself the stories of the artists behind the creations while picking up some unique gifts for the loved ones in your life or for yourself.


Unknown said...

I think there are several new websites that really have better products than Novica and at a much better price. Check the handmade jewelry at Nina of Egypt.

Anonymous said...

Before loaning, people should be aware that novica's zero-interest loan policy is not entirely true. The artisans must actually leave the equivalent of the loan in products in novica's office for sale on their website. I think that this collateral policy completely defies the purpose of micro-loaning.