Ready for Graduation in Gwomòn

Jeannette Belfort hasn’t always lived in Savann Long. She’s from a more remote area of Northern Gwomòn, but she’s been in Savann Long a long time, ever since she moved in with her first partner over 25 years ago. She had six children with that first man, but she eventually decided she had to leave him. She found a second partner she’s happier with, and together they have one young child.

That new partner, Rosemond, is a farmer, and he has always been willing to help her with her older children as well as with the one they have together. Between his harvests, and her small commerce, she struggled to send them all to school. But it was always difficult. Her children would sometimes lose a year because the couple could not afford the entire school fee for each child. It is not surprising. Upon entering the program, Jeannette reported that she and Rosemond could not even feed them every day.

She asked the CLM team to give her goats and small commerce. The goats have not been profitable so far. She received two, and each miscarried its first litter, though both are now pregnant once again. Even so, she now has four goats because she was able to buy the two additional ones with profits from her small commerce.

Her real progress has been due to that commerce. She sells basic groceries, such as oil, dried beans, bouillon cubes, and the like. She managed a smaller version of this business on and off even before she was part of CLM. But she had a lot of trouble keeping it going. Between having to feed her kids and trying to pay their school fees, her capital was always at risk. The business would disappear, then she find away to re-establish it, then it would disappear again.

Fonkoze helped her by providing capital she could invest to make the business larger. With more capital, she could buy more product, so she sold more product. The increased income helped her protect the business from the cycles of growth and shrinkage she was used to.

But when she’s asked how her business has changed, she doesn’t speak of that increased investment. She speaks instead about what she has learned. “I didn’t know how to save. I’ve learned to save in CLM.” And she has been saving well. In addition to her contributions to her savings association, she’s purchased the additional goats and some poultry as well. She has two big turkeys and some guinea fowl.

She also has a plan. “As the kids go farther in school, the costs will rise. I want to take care of my animals so I can sell some and use the money to invest in my commerce. That way, I will always be able to pay for school.”

Kettie Fernand lives close to Jeannette, also in Savann Long. She lives with her husband, Michelin, and the couple’s two children. Two of her children from a previous relationship live with her as well. She has really struggled over the years, and is excited that her ten-year-old will finally get to go to school this year. She and Michelin had never been able to send the child before.

When she was younger, she had tried to earn an income through small commerce, but that was when she lived with her older children’s father in another community. She couldn’t keep it going because people would always pressure her to sell on credit. She had grown up in the neighborhood, the people around her had known her all her life, and it was hard to say “no.”

When she joined CLM, she asked the team for goats and a sheep. She’s taken good care of her goats, and now she has five. Her ewe lost its first lamb, but it is growing and healthy.

She also decided to try managing a small commerce again. She used savings from her cash stipend to get herself started. She buys coffee beans, which she roasts and grinds. She sells serving-sized bags folks can use to make their morning coffee. She also sells the sugar and the bread that Haitians want with their coffee. The business is doing well. She purchased a large tom turkey with some of her profits, even as she’s used most of the income to manage her household’s needs.

She’s happy with the progress she’s made, and hopes to keep growing her business. Now that she’s no longer around the people who knew her as a girl, she finds it easy to avoid selling on credit, and she’s determined to do so.

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