Five Talents

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This article is about the charitable organization. For the Christian parable, see Parable of the talents or minas.
Five talents logo.jpg

Five Talents is a Christian Microfinance charity. It provides loan capital and savings opportunities to groups of entrepreneurs, and also offers business training and mentoring to clients. It has attracted notice and acclaim throughout the Anglican Communion and in the global media.[1]


Five Talents has offices in Washington DC and London, and partners with organisations in 12 countries around the world.

Five Talents was founded at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Church leaders in 1998[2] as 'a long term response to help the poor in developing countries based on need not creed'.[3]

The patron is the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Justin Welby.


Five Talents currently works in 12 developing countries, which are: Burundi, Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Peru, Philippines, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda [4]

In the Media[edit]

In November 2012, the work of Five Talents was favorably highlighted in an online article referencing industry best practice in the faith based micro finance community.

In April 2012 Five Talents US announced the hiring of a new executive director, Sonia Patterson, who has 15 years of entrepreneurial experience in developing business, non-governmental and community relations in the United States, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.[5]

In March 2012 Five Talents UK Director Tom Sanderson published an article entitled "Microfinance - Commercial or Social?" in the Faith in Business Journal.[6]

In December 2011 the work of Five Talents was highlighted on the Huffington Post website in an article by Carolyn Sharp, a professor at Yale University.[7]

In May 2010 Five Talents was featured on the BBC's monthly television charity appeal programme 'Lifeline'.[8] A short film starring Sandi Toksvig was broadcast on BBC1 and explored the impact of Five Talents on the poor in Tanzania.


Five Talents US received a $10,000 grant in June 2012 from the Giving of Life Foundation, following a major online social media campaign in which the organization finished 9th overall in Giving of Life's online voting competition.[9]

Five Talents US was named "one of the best" non-profits for 2011-2012 by Greater Washington's Catalogue for Philanthropy in April 2011.[10] According to the Catalogue, "115 reviewers from foundations, corporations, corporate giving programs, giving circles,the philanthropic advisory community, and peer nonprofits, evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact." [11]

Five Talents UK won the 2011 Award from Advocates for International Development (A4ID) for the best Development Partner.[12] This award celebrates the outstanding achievements of legal professionals and the development organisations they have worked with in tackling extreme poverty and meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Five Talents UK was also winner of the 2011 Financial World Innovation Awards in the category “Business Relationship Management” for its work in Tanzania, in conjunction with the Mama Bahati Foundation.[13]

Five Talents UK was also the overall winner of the City of London Sustainable City Award, 2009.[14] It was also shortlisted for the Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards 2010, in the category “Banking at the base of the pyramid”.[15]

Business As Mission[edit]

'Business As Mission' is the concept that business professionals can use their God-given skills and talents to assist poor entrepreneurs in developing countries who are starting small businesses as a way out of poverty.[16] Five Talents pursues new and creative ways for business people to use their skills and talents in the overseas mission field by providing business training and one-on-one business counseling for loan recipients. The ultimate goal is a transformative experience for all involved.

Five Talents’ Business as Mission Program coordinates short-term mission trips and the development of biblically based leadership and business training curricula for church leaders and entrepreneurs. The curriculum covers the basics of entrepreneurship, business planning, marketing, and recordkeeping, along with spiritual support, thus equipping loan recipients to run and expand their businesses.

Unlike most training programs, the Five Talents methodology is less conceptual and more concrete in actions. It incorporates interactive exercises that are less dependent on high levels of written literacy and case studies. Five Talents is taking the lead in alleviating poverty not through handouts but through teaching sensible and biblical business practices and building capacity to manage Christian MicroEnterprise Development (CMED)[17] programs.

Group Lending Model[edit]

Main article: Solidarity lending

Five Talents operates using a group lending model. Loans are given to the group as a whole and so if one person has difficulty in repaying, the others in the group will have to cover their repayments. This system is similar to that originally developed by the Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus, and aims to reach those who are unable to take out commercial loans due to lack of collateral. Typically groups will consist of between 5 and 10 people.[18] The majority of borrowers are women.


Five Talents is a member and regular contributor of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Microfinance [19] The purpose of the APPG is to raise awareness of microfinance and the role it can play in reducing poverty, particularly in the developing world. As such, the APPG also provides a Parliamentary forum for discussion on new developments and current debates in the field of microfinance. Five Talents participated in the 2011 Parliamentary Inquiry into Microfinance: “Helping or Hurting: What role for microfinance in the fight against poverty?”[20]

Tom Sanderson, Five Talents’ UK director – is a member of the Steering Group of the UK Microfinance Club. This club provides a forum for UK enthusiasts of microfinance. With over 360 members from NGOs, corporates, government, media, universities and the public, their aims are to exchange best practices, raise awareness and share information to help improve the delivery of microfinance to the world's poor.[21] Tom has recently presented two papers at the Microfinance Club: The Distinctiveness of Christian Microfinance ; and The Role of Women in Microfinance.

Five Talents UK has also recently joined Bond,[22] the UK membership body for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in international development. It is also a member of the Anglican Alliance,[23] which brings together Anglican churches and agencies that are working for a world free of poverty and injustice, to be a voice for the voiceless to reconcile those in conflict and to safeguard the Earth.


The US and UK Executive Directors are both recognized public figures.

Tom Sanderson, Five Talents' UK director, regularly writes articles and gives talks on microfinance. He recently contributed to a debate about microfinance covered in the Financial Times [24]

Five Talents US Executive Director Sonia Patterson gives numerous speeches around the United States and writes regularly about poverty, microfinance and international development on Twitter (@Sonia_5T) and Tumblr.[25] She was quoted in the article mentioned above.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Five Talents microfinance initiative launches first annual review". Inspire Magazine. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  3. ^ Taken from Five Talents UK Website
  4. ^ Five Talents International - Our Programs
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  16. ^ Five Talents International - What is Business as Mission
  17. ^ Christian Microenterprise Development
  18. ^ "What we do". Five Talents UK Website. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
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