Béatrice lives with her five children in Kamas, a community well off the main road that leads north out of Gwomòn towards Pòdpè. Abandoned by the children’s father, the job of caring for her children has been all her own. Before she joined the program, she would borrow money from a woman who herself borrowed it from a microfinance institution. Béatrice would use it to buy plantains from the farmers around her, bringing them to market for sale. “I could make a little profit after I paid my friend back. And I would also take home any single plantains that broke off the bunches. We eat them.”
But the situation of the woman she was borrowing from changed. She no longer had anything she could lend Béatrice. So Béatrice’s life became much more difficult. Though she was used to being able to feed the children every day, the family was now going hungry often, and one of Béatrice’s children was beginning to show signs of malnutrition.
In the couple of months since she joined the program, things have started to improve. She’s been using most of her food stipend to buy food, and the family’s eating better. “You might not be able to make rice, but you can make cornmeal.” She used 1000 of the 1500 gourds she collected from the savings club she’s in with other CLM members to pay money she owed at her children’s school, and used the other 500 gourds to buy plantains, so she’s back in business. She still owes the school another 1000 gourds, however, and she doesn’t have the money right now, so she’s not out of the woods yet.
On Friday, Béatrice came to the livestock market in downtown Gwomòn. The CLM team was buying goats, and two of them were for her. She’s excited to have goats to raise. When she joined the program, she owned nothing but a single chicken. “I have already built my goat shed.” Her plans for the goats are clear, too. “I’ll take care of them, and if they produce young, I’ll have a way to pay to send my kids to school.”
The other asset she chose is small commerce, and she has no doubt how she will invest the money the program makes available. “I’ll buy plantains. That’s the business I know.”