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Paying back micro-loans by planting trees

January 9, 2010

Color Me In! is a non-profit organization that provides micro-loans for small business development in Zambia. The loan program has a unique feature – the local groups that borrow pay back the loans by planting trees!

How it works: Village clubs  do not usually have access to funding for important projects to improve community life. The loans work like this: A women’s group or farming club composes a business plan and budget. Color Me In! (CMI!) provides the loans which the local groups pay back by planting trees – one tree per 50 cents borrowed. This satisfies up to 75% of the debt. In lieu of paying back CMI in cash, the group can submit a proposal to reinvest that payment in additional community projects.

To maximize its impact, Color Me In! partners with a volunteer organization working in the communities it serves.

Multiple Benefits: The founder of Color Me In! Sarah Grant told us “CMI!’s green lending program not only helps develop local economics and protect vital natural resources, but also strengthens communities. For example, one women’s club borrowed $1,000 from CMI! to begin a poultry enterprise. Subsequently it used a portion of its profits to provide $200 to a community-based organization that aids orphans and others with special needs. This organization, the Kaskota Social Care for the Vulnerable just opened its doors to its first 55 clients.

Sarah Grant and her vision: Sarah Grant is a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Zambia. She told us that she once asked children in her village to draw what trees are used for. “I was  shocked when drew coffins. CMI! wants to make sure that these children develop a very different views of trees and their lives.”

To learn more about Color Me In!, visit:

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