Solidarity group of microfinance borrowers

Saint-Rose Joseph

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Fonkoze Solidarity clientSaint-Rose Joseph has been participating in Jesyon Biznis, Fonkoze’s business skills class. Through short stories and descriptive images, Jesyon Biznis teaches Fonkoze clients how to manage their businesses by giving them skills to calculate profits and losses; to keep clear records; and to devise strategies for increasing revenue. The classes are taught by fellow Fonkoze clients who Fonkoze trains.

Saint-Rose says, “Jesyon Biznis helped me with my savings, and I know how to calculate profits and losses now.” But according to Saint-Rose, the stories in the Jesyon Biznis book have more to offer than just basic business skills. “They teach us how to live better—like how to resolve small conflicts in the market.”

Jesyon Biznis built on some of the skills Saint-Rose gained in Fonkoze’s introductory credit program, Ti Kredi (Little Credit). She started out with a loan of $25, and her loan officer provided her intensive support so that she understood how credit works. Now, she has moved on to Fonkoze’s core lending program, Solidarity, and the loans she receives help her with her small business selling agricultural products in the nearby town of Perido.

Saint-Rose also took advantage of Fonkoze’s basic literacy skills program, Alfa Bon. “Before, every time I would sign my name with an X or with a thumbprint—like in the Fonkoze branch office—I felt like people were watching me and laughing at me.” Now, Saint-Rose signs her name without a problem, and the camaraderie and support she received from the other participants in Alfa Bon was invaluable. “When I was with them, we would sing and dance and the stress would just fall away! We had fun and we shared ideas.”

She never had the chance to go to school. Born in 1966, she was one of six children. Her father died when she was a baby, and her mother died when she was seven.

All five of Saint-Rose’s children attend school; she sees it as an investment—and not only because school will help them to get better jobs someday. “I know I will depend on them when I’m old. When you’re old, you become like a child, and the children become like parents. They’ll be the ones to help me.”

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