Pastor Joe is one of the leaders in the local church in Tricotte. His wife runs a small business buying and selling various products ranging from toiletries to foodstuffs to household goods. She travels to Port-au-Prince to buy the merchandise and brings it back to Tricotte, where she separates it into smaller lots to sell at the market. In this way, she is able to contribute to the household income and help to support their children.
Pastor Joe wanted other people in the village to be able to do this and similar things to support their own families. But most people in Haiti are unable to scrape together even enough money to fund the smallest business venture. Pastor Joe hoped to help. He wanted to be able to make small loans to people from the village who had a viable business plan.
Although Pastor Joe recognized that Starfish Ministries might be able to help him with this ministry, he wanted to “prove the concept” before he approached us. So he went to a bank in the city of Gros Morne and took out a personal loan. The interest rate was 20%, and he knew that that was not going to be a sustainable way to fund the ministry. But during the proving phase, Pastor Joe would absorb the extra costs.
The loans that Pastor Joe makes are small and short-term. A typical loan is $60US. If a new entrepreneur is starting a home bakery, he would use the money to buy the flour and other ingredients needed to make bread. As he sells the bread, he repays Pastor Joe from the proceeds within an agreed-on time. Then, when he is ready to start the process again, he would likely need to take out another loan.
It worked beautifully! Several villagers have been able to start small businesses, and every loan was repaid.
Now Pastor Joe was ready to approach Starfish Ministries. He met with Bernie during one of Bernie’s recent trips. And based on our long-standing relationship with Pastor Joe and the early success of the program, Starfish Ministries agreed to partner with Pastor Joe in this ministry.
We have talked about a microloan program for years. But there was always something more urgent – from education and feeding programs to disaster relief to drilling wells to evangelistic crusades and church plants. Now we are excited about what this will mean to some needy families in Tricotte. And under Pastor Joe’s leadership, by the grace of God, we are confident that it will be a success.
So we are collecting funds to support this ministry. It is one of the items on our 2013 Christmas list. Thank you the contributions we’ve already received toward this ministry as well as for your support for every area of Starfish Ministries. What a blessing it has been these last 16 years to partner with supporters like you in the work God is doing in Haiti!
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp