Our life path is made of choices and opportunities and it starts at a very young age. Okay, at the beginning it is our parents who will mostly choose for us (choice of school, sports, food,…) and then as we go along this path of life, the independence of our choices and thoughts accelerates. This offers us an endless freedom, where our biggest dreams are achievable. To each his own and it is beautiful to dream since it makes us move forward in our daily life. Step by step, we move towards our goal, whatever it may be. It is by following our heart and by assuming our choices and mistakes, that we are all actors of our lives.
Many of us dream of becoming entrepreneurs, for example. Being an “entrepreneur” is accessible to everyone: men, women, whatever your origin, income, social situation and education, everyone has the right to launch their own economic activity. To succeed, you must have a strong commitment to your project, a significant material and/or moral investment as well as a strong personality. The path of an entrepreneur is full of ups and downs, but it is by surrounding oneself well that the summits will be reached.
When a project is at the embryonic stage, it is a very important period for the entrepreneur who faces financial challenges. In general, he will find funds primarily through the emotional side (Friends, Family and Fools) rather than through rationality and ROI (Return on Investment). This emotional loan is advantageous (flexible repayment terms, zero personal guarantee, good rates,…) and will serve as leverage for obtaining a bank loan later on.
Let’s talk about the bank loan which allows to finance important expenses such as works, a vehicle purchase, a real estate investment,… The beneficiary undertakes to reimburse the credit institution for the sums borrowed over a more or less long period of time, taking into account a loan rate and possible fees. In general, when we ask a bank for a loan, they need guarantees of repayment and a loan is easily refused when there are not enough guarantees or a history of credit… This is where microfinance comes into play and has a crucial role as a lever for change.
Microfinance, a lever for change
Microfinance was popularized in Bangladesh in the 1970s by Dr. Muhammad Yunnus, also known as “the banker to the poor” and elected Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006. He founded the first microcredit institution, the Grameen Bank in 1976. This way of lending to the poorest people in developing countries so that they can create their own business and be self-sufficient has been a revelation for a huge number of them. Thanks to these micro-loans, many women and men have been able to develop their ideas and dreams in order to provide for themselves and their families.
Today, microfinance has grown in many countries with the help of development banks, donors and credit unions. Microfinance services typically include the provision of microcredit, savings management assistance, microinsurance and other payment systems. In addition, non-financial services such as coaching exist to accompany entrepreneurs in their daily challenges.
In Belgium, there are different actors established to raise the barriers to access to entrepreneurship such as
– Microstart is a microfinance institution, leader in Belgium, supporting entrepreneurs through financial and non-financial services.
– Credal is a cooperative that aims to promote a fairer and more united society through ethical investment, alternative credit, project support and capital participation in innovative social entrepreneurship projects.
– Funds for Good is a non-profit organization that grants honorary loans and non-financial support to people in precarious employment to give them more access to entrepreneurship.
– Réseau entreprendre accompanies entrepreneurs during the creation of their project through coaching and their network of entrepreneurs.
If you would like us to discover other projects that are active in supporting entrepreneurship, please contact us via our form.
*Written by Emilie de Gerlache for Semlex for Education