Deborah Meaden encourages Taunton shoppers to embrace the true spirit of Christmas

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By careint | Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 12:57

Somerset entrepreneur and former Dragon's Den star, Deborah Meaden, is encouraging Christmas shoppers to stop squandering their hard earned cash on wasteful gifts this festive season - and instead embrace the true Christmas spirit by lending money to poor entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The former Dragon has become an ambassador for a revolutionary initiative from one of the country's top aid agencies, CARE International UK, and The Co-operative - The scheme enables people to buy vouchers as gift for their loves ones - the voucher recipient can then lend small amounts of money to individuals in poor communities running their own business, and helps them to work their own way out of poverty.

Deborah said: "I hate the feeling of panic-buying a present, knowing it's not quite right, isn't memorable and may even go to waste.

"If not enough thought is invested in a gift, it shows. Yet we all do it, every year.  A gift voucher is an inspired present that puts an end to last-minute panic-buying and you can download a voucher right up to Christmas day morning.

"Becoming a lender is rewarding and fascinating. It is a lovely way of giving friends and family the opportunity to be the leg-up that entrepreneurs around the world need."

100% of the gift voucher money, typically £15 or £30, goes directly to the nominated individual. Once it has been used to help them start up their business, it is then paid back to the voucher recipient to either keep for themselves, or to re-invest in different entrepreneurs around the world.

Every business started helps around five people in the developing world, and £3.5m has been invested to date through 100,000 loans. It is the only initiative of its type run by an international development charity and is a gift that will keep on giving, year-in and year-out.

Tracey Horner, from, said: "Too many people feel an obligation to waste money on useless gifts they cannot afford for people who won't use it. Presents can be memorable without breaking the bank, and a voucher is the ultimate value-for-money smile raiser."

Gift vouchers range from £15 and are available in various designs, which can be sent via email, downloaded and/or printed. They are available at

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