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Malawi received £77.3 billion of aid from the UK in 2009. During the same year the president Mutharika spent 9 million on a private jet, £2 million on a wedding ceremony for his new bride and £3 million on 22 Mercedes limousines. Furious at these revelations, DFID officials reportedly cut the UK’s poverty aid to Malawi by £3 million, “the equivalent to the annual cost of the plane over the next 5 years”. The Common Public Accounts Committee has raised further concerns about £300 million of aid to Malawi since Mutharika came to power.
Corruption within African governments is no new phenomenon; neither is the “trade, not aid” paradigm. Yet, with 40% of the country still living beneath the national poverty line, it is key that Mutharika’s bad behaviour does not impair the opportunities of the country’s entrepreneurial population. Financial transparency is more essential now than ever.
The Microloan Foundation’s model, which emphasises economic transparency both in the funds we raise and in our performance, enables female entrepreneurs to receive money directly, bypassing corrupt government officials. Training and mentoring programs then continue to monitor the investment of this money and provide valuable advice, where required.
Our “hand up, not hand out” philosophy not only acts as a kick start to local economies, but blocks money-grabbing officials out of the picture.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, national charitable donations have been on the decline. Though this is unsurprising given the current economic climate and recent revelations, the government has been receiving a lot of criticism for directing precious pennies towards foreign aid.
Microloan has recently launched a new campaign, however, that puts the power back into the public’s pockets: Pennies for Life. The campaign aims to put to honorable use the £500m worth of change that is reportedly lying around the homes of the British population, by asking people to donate 1 penny every time they update their Twitter account.
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