It has long been a dream of Caroline Cius to have a shop in the front yard of her home and be able to supplement the income from the farm that she and her husband run near the small community of Pont-Philippe, about 20 minutes northwest of the Haitian city of Gonaives. “I had a shop before, but it was destroyed by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 and I never had the money to start it again,” she said, “But a loan from the Alliance made it possible.”
Caroline is one of 2,000 farmer members of Alyans Ti Plantè-Gonaïves, the cooperative established three years ago in this area by the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA). In September of last year, the cooperative began a micro-finance program for women members, and Caroline was one of the first 56 recipients of loans that averaged around US$50. It was enough for her to purchase inventory and begin selling food and supplies to her neighbors. “I am good at selling things,” she said with obvious pride when showing off her shop, “because I like to talk with people.”
All 56 of the first loans were fully repaid, with interest, and the microfinance program is being expanded.