While many of those working in impoverished communities have the ideas and ability to create a small business, they rarely can access the capital they need to begin. Because they are asset poor (without the physical assets like a car, home, etc, that can be used as collateral) and are in need of only small loans, banks will not lend to them. Their only other option is the burdensome cycle of borrowing money from local moneylenders at high rates of interest.
Ghislaine, 50, works as the treasurer for the group and testifies that “the group is a great thing. I have borrowed US$75 to start a business selling hardware. Now I pay for my three children to go to school and I just bought myself a donkey to go to the market.” Dieudonne, a 53-year-old widow, is also in the hardware business and has been able to support her six children, and is even sending her daughter to a nursing school in the city.
With a loan, these women were able to improve their lives, create jobs and generate additional goods and services, and the whole community benefits. Parents are able to give their children more nutritious food and the family’s health improves. Parents have enough money to send their children to school, and begin to break the cycle of poverty. “If it wasn’t for the Solidarity Group, this area would be in great misery. Our lives would have gone down the drain,” shares Francimise.