2-question interview with Peter Heijen - Founder and CEO of Lendahand.

10 October, 2017

Peter Heijen is the founder and CEO of Lendahand. Lendahand is a crowdfunding platform that allows private investors from Europe to make online SDG investments in emerging markets. Recently Lendahand started a new platform in the United Kingdom, Energise Africa. The crowdfunding is matched by the UK government and Virgin Unite (Richard Branson family). This new funding structure where institutions join the crowd in SDG investing has a lot of potential to catalyze SDG investments.
 
Peter Heijen: “A few years back I travelled through Nepal, India and Bangladesh. I witnessed first-hand that entrepreneurship and jobs are the strongest weapons in fighting poverty. Many business owners, however, did not have access to affordable finance. Crowdfunding seemed like a good solution and that is why I founded Lendahand.”
 
What is your vision for Lendahand in the UK?
 
“Currently 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity which limits their chance of achieving economic prosperity and improving quality of life. Energise Africa’s pioneering solar businesses are installing life-changing solar systems in homes in Sub-Saharan Africa – bringing affordable clean energy and potential economic opportunities to thousands of families. Over a 1 to 2-year period families can make regular monthly payments after which they own the solar home systems outright and are then able to realise further valuable cost savings.
 
With almost 20 million online impact investors, the UK is the biggest crowdfunding market in Europe and thus has huge potential”. 
 
What sets Lendahand apart from traditional microfinanciers and what gives you a competitive advantage?
 
‘’Microfinance Institutions are mainly for micro businesses that undertake simple and comparable business activities. You can think of a market stall, breeding poultry, or small-scale trade. These are often loans with standard terms (amount, maturity, etc). Microfinance institutions often do not have the capability to assess larger companies.
 
Lendahand mesocredits revolve, just like micro credits, around self-sustainability. After all, the entrepreneur does not get the money for free but needs to pay it back with interest. SMEs often do not have access to mesocredits. That is why we offer this grow capital with a fair interest rate. The funder receives an attractive fixed return of 3-6% annually.’’

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