The Micro-Loan program was started in April 2011, when our good friend, Jeridon (Tidon) Jacques, approached us with a business proposition. Scooters are the most common form of transportation in Haiti andTidon then worked two or three days a week driving a scooter for someone else. Even though he barely earned enough to make ends meet, he was so determined to buy his own scooter that he had saved roughly $1,700 Haitian ($212 U.S.). He asked us if we could loan him the rest of the money ($900 U.S.). Maria’s brother, Joe, who was with us, said he wanted to help too. We drew up a contract stipulating that Tidon would invest $1,000 Haitian of his own money and he would pay back the money that we loaned him in monthly installments. His business has been so successful that he is now able to pay for his daughter’s schooling and his mother’s recent medical expenses.
Tito recipient of a scooter loan, now operates his own taxi and transport service. Typically, he transports 2 (and occasionally) 3 people, sometimes with their bags. This is how things are done in Haiti.
In May 2011, we set up a second loan to buy a sewing machine for Anna-Louise Jean-Baptist. She now earns money by making school uniforms and repairing clothing. As a result, she was able to afford high school tuition for her daughter and an adopted child.
Both Tidon and Anna-Louise have repaid their loans in full. The money has been put into an account to finance other micro-loans. Through other donations, the account has grown to approximately $6,000 U.S. The Micro-Loan Program has financed a total of three scooters and ten sewing machines. It has also provided smaller loans to help vendors set up roadside stands. To date, all recipients have been faithful in making monthly payments.
Here’s how $62 can change lives:
Olivia Previliis’ husband was killed in the earthquake of January 2010 and she had no way to support her nine children. She heard of our loan program through a friend, and approached Christian to apply for a micro-loan, in order to start a small business in Port-au-Prince. She borrowed $500 HD ($62.50 US dollars) to open a roadside breakfast stand selling Pate (it resembles a fried croissant stuffed with eggs, meat, peppers & onions). Her business was successful enough for her to pay back the loan in six months. She is now able to feed her family and send two of her children to high school.
She is applying for a second loan to expand her business to include items such as charcoal, oil, cookies & crackers.
Ynette Noel’s husband died in a car accident. She requested a $500 HD ($62.50 US) loan and, with it, was able to set up a mobile vending cart to sell corn, oil, rice, beans and flour in Port-au-Prince. She has paid back the loan and is now able to feed her seven children. She applied for a second loan in order to expand her business and now sells 8 – 10 items, including some basic toiletries, like soap and toothpaste.
Maurice Markins has a wife and 7 children. Several years ago, he received a small loan ($30 US) to buy ice cream, candy, & cookies to sell in Ouanaminthe. This wheel barrow functions as his vendor’s cart. He fills the box on top with ice to keep the ice cream in the cooler frozen. His loan has been repaid and he is now able to support his family.
Bianie Joseph is a widow with 5 children. A few years ago she borrowed $50 US to start a roadside stand where she sells a variety of food items and cooks breakfast omlettes. Her loan has been repaid and she is still in business.
Rory Jean-Louis, a fellow in his 20’s, supports his parents, 4 brothers and 5 sisters. After he lost his job in a warehouse, he approached Christian for a loan for the purchase of a motor scooter, which would be used as a taxi. He now works in Gonaives as a taxi driver and supports his family.
Charles Pierre Denis also borrowed money for a scooter. His mother had died and he needed to help his father support the family. His loan has been repaid and he now works as a a taxicab driver in Cap Haitien.
These are some of the recent micro-loan recipients in the Oanaminth area. These represent people who have started taxi transports, roadside food stands, a micro-grocery, and several seamstress – tailoring businesses, which allow the children to have new or repaired school uniforms (which are mandatory for children to attend school. Parents either buy fabric, or find old, outgrown uniforms, and the seamstresses create clothing that the children can wear.
Loans are typically $50 – $1000. To date all loans have either been fully repaid or are up-to-date. The micro-loan program is administered by a committee of 3 townspeople. And, as you have read, it has made real differences in people’s lives.