On Saturday, August 13, 50 women from Leyogàn graduated from Ti Kredi (“Little Credit”), Fonkoze’s high-support lending program for women not ready to manage a $75 loan, the initial amount given in our core Solidarity Group credit program. Over the course of six months, these women work with a credit agent, beginning with a loan equivalent to just $25, to build capacity and gain life skills such as literacy training. Saturday’s graduates celebrated their successful completion of the program, joining 210 of their peers, who graduated on July 28. Here’s a look at the ceremonies that celebrated this life-changing accomplishment.
As the Ti Kredi graduates proceed up the aisles of the outdoor ceremony space, set against the backdrop of the mountains of Leyogàn, they sing a song of praise for the program that has guided them through the microlending process over the past six months.
The 260 women who will be trading their Ti Kredi memberships for Solidarity Group lending carry baskets of fruit and other food items on their heads to represent their identification as ti machann. Graduate Patricia Louis explains how the program has helped to fuel her strong work ethic. “I really love to do commerce because I don’t like to sit around,” she says.
Their credit agent, Samuel, congratulates them on their hard work over the past six months, and tells them that while he will no longer be with them as they become Solidarity clients, he has faith in their ability to succeed. Ti Kredi has given them the tools that they need to continue; as Patricia says, “Ti Kredi gives us a lot of training.” In addition to financial training, “They teach us how to write our names.”
The women present Samuel with a token of their gratitude: a hand-carved sign that thanks him for the work that he and Fonkoze have done. Under his guidance, 197 of the graduates have already started the Solidarity program, with an expected participation rate of 99% for the entire group.
While the women accept their diplomas solemnly, the graduation also allows the women to show their sense of humor. One of the lending groups presents a skit explaining the basics of Fonkoze membership that has some of the women almost falling out of their seats laughing.
Closing with yet more song, the ceremony’s light-hearted mood conveys the sense of hope that the women have for their futures. They have proven their ability to succeed, and are excited to rise to the next challenge.