Mark Hemsworth | Rent-to-Own
Fellows work to maximize the impact of their ideas through design. They work through a systematic process driven by the five elements of scalability: real impact, big bang for the buck, lasting behavior change, easy replication, and the right path to scale. Fellows participate in the program for two years, working through several design iterations.
THE IDEA: Rent-to-Own
Getting rural entrepreneurs the tools they need to prosper: a catalog of vetted products, local sales people, and tailored financing that works for both lender and borrower
HOW IT WORKS
- Assemble a catalog of the best tools and technologies
- Train agents who really know and are trusted by the entrepreneurs
- Create a one-hour business plan for each customer
- Equipment acts as collateral
- Create multiple repayment options
- Assure plug n’ play installation of equipment.
- 1-on-1 training at client’s house on their equipment.
- Provide onsite repairs even after the contract is completed.
THE PERSON: Mark Hemsworth
Mark Hemsworth is a Canadian engineer of entrepreneur stock, working to get Zambians the tools they need to get out of poverty
An MVP quarterback turned engineer, Mark discovered Engineers Without Borders in 2003 and began raising money for the cause. In 2008 he went with EWB to rural Zambia and volunteered with Africa’s largest honey exporter. There he found that most entrepreneurs couldn’t grow their business because they didn’t have access to capital or to equipment that could improve their productivity. That’s when he started Rent-to-Own.
In every corner of Africa there are capable rural entrepreneurs who could build thriving businesses if they could get they right technologies – irrigation equipment, plows, even bicycles - financed in the right way. As an engineer working in Zambia, Mark Hemsworth got to know enough enterprising farmers and rural businessmen to understand what was holding them back. In 2009, he started Rent-to Own to get the right people the right assets in the right way. Rent-to-Own creates a vetted inventory of great product presented in a usable catalog, finds reliable entrepreneurs through a network of agents using their own social networks, and provides borrowers the financing they need on terms they can meet. In early start-up mode, Rent-to-Own is reaching almost 100 new entrepreneurs every month, with a goal of 4000 a year by 2013. Each asset brings increased productivity, more jobs, better services and increased incomes.