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Launched in a marginalized community in Cape Town, South Africa in 2008, the goal of RLabs has always been to create systems and environments where the lives of many can be impacted, and individuals may find empowerment and transformation through hope, technology, innovation, training and economic opportunities.

RLabs is comprised of an academy that offers free learning programs and training to unemployed and underemployed youth; a living lab with platforms for communities to create solutions to social problems with public, private and academic institutions; and an incubator to provide social enterprises with mentorship, support and funding.

A unique lending approach:

Kiva loans are used to support an RLabs initiative called Lengo, which enables entrepreneurs to open shops and sell fast moving consumer products to customers living in low-income communities in Cape Town. Lengo shops build economic empowerment and reduces unemployment by creating opportunities and jobs for Lengo owners and staff. 

Lengo shop owners buy goods in bulk at a discount from RLabs, which allows them to give a profit percentage to their customers. Lengo shops are fully stocked with retail products and resourced with basic equipment to provide digital transactions such as the sale of airtime and data. RLabs provides skills training and education to Lengo retailers, and offers them scholarships to attend courses in customer service, marketing, retail, financial and small business management.

Kiva loans will be used by borrowers to set up the physical Lengo shops in their underused rooms and spaces at home, allowing them to join a supplier program that delivers products directly and focus on growing their small businesses.

Lengo shops are unique among retail spaces because as customers purchase items, they automatically earn points that can be either withdrawn from the shop to purchase additional goods or pooled with other customers’ points to fund larger community projects.

Repayment Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Start Date On Kiva Jul 24, 2018 Oct 12, 2005
Total Loans $0 $1,403,476,400
Amount of raised Inactive loans $0 $939,700
Number of raised Inactive loans 0 356
Amount of Paying Back Loans $0 $149,763,650
Number of Paying Back Loans 0 193,645
Amount of Ended Loans $0 $1,252,773,050
Number of Ended Loans 0 1,620,556
Delinquency Rate 0.00% 21.87%
Amount in Arrears $0 $20,431,877
Outstanding Portfolio $0 $93,421,438
Number of Loans Delinquent 0 130,112
Default Rate 0.00% 1.76%
Amount of Ended Loans Defaulted $0 $22,041,481
Number of Ended Loans Defaulted 0 53,405
Currency Exchange Loss Rate 0.00% 0.39%
Amount of Currency Exchange Loss $14 $5,432,766
Refund Rate 0.00% 0.63%
Amount of Refunded Loans $5,000 $8,878,850
Number of Refunded Loans 1 8,379

Loan Characteristics On Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Loans to Women Borrowers 100.00% 76.47%
Average Loan Size $5,000 $393
Average Individual Loan Size $5,000 $609
Average Group Loan Size $0 $1,761
Average number of borrowers per group 0 7.8
Average GDP per capita (PPP) in local country $12,700 $5,749
Average Loan Size / GDP per capita (PPP) 39.37% 6.84%
Average Time to Fund a Loan 0.92 days 7.18 days
Average Dollars Raised Per Day Per Loan $5,422.03 $54.73
  Average Loan Term 25 months 11.38 months

Journaling Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Total Journals 2 865,518
  Journaling Rate 0.00% 43.37%
  Average Number of Comments Per Journal 0.00 0.03
  Average Number of Recommendations Per Journal 0.00 0.74

Borrowing Cost Comparison (based on 2009 data)

    This Field Partner Median for MFI's in Country All Kiva Partners
  Average Cost to Borrower N/A N/A 25.74% PY
  Profitability (return on assets) -10.29% N/A -1.78%
  Average Loan Size (% of per capita income) N/A 9.00% 12.55%

Country Fast Facts

Field Partner Staff

Michaela Collison
Craig Dumont
Terence Hendricks
Garren Simmons