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Moving Beyond the Batey
Old rail cars full of sugarcane stand at the entrance to Dieula Calixte’s street, pausing on their way to the refinery. Usually, the hard-working, low-paid workers who harvest the cane live in bateys – old, run-down sugarcane plantation towns where opportunity is scarce.
When Dieula first came to the Dominican Republic from Haiti, she lived in a batey with her sister Rosa. They supported themselves through agricultural work, but Dieula was often ill and could not work. Sugarcane was always central to their lives, but today Dieula and her sister have found their own paths with microfinance services from Grameen Foundation partner Esperanza International.
Dieula’s life in Haiti had been difficult. There, she worked as a servant and often went without food two or three days a week. But today, there is plenty to eat. Now, she is the “snack lady” in her neighborhood Dieula’s home is the center of activity, especially for the children who buy nuts, chips, and other treats.
When Dieula took out her first loan of 2,000 pesos ($68), she expanded her snack business, which had almost no capital at the time. Six months later, she had not only paid off her loan in full, but she had also increased her capital to 2,500 pesos. Dieula’s snack business now brings in 40-50 pesos per day, and she has now taken a second loan of 3,000 pesos ($102) to fund further expansion. Dieula’s son, 11 and daughter, 12, are in school.
Dieula’s new business has also given her a new lease on life. Back home in Haiti, she could only occasionally buy the vitamin B medication she needed for her painful struggle with sickle cell anemia. Now, with a steady income, Dieula can afford to get her treatment more regularly.
Today, Dieula’s sister Rosa is also an Esperanza client, and the women are enthusiastic about Esperanza’s service to the community. If anything were to happen to Esperanza, Dieula says she would take to the streets in protest!
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Conclusion - Microfinance: A Platform for Social Change
By Grameen Foundation
About the Author: Grameen Foundation
RSS for Grameen's articles - Visit Grameen's website
Grameen Foundation's mission is to empower the world's poorest people to lift themselves out of poverty with dignity through access to financial services and to information. With tiny loans, financial services and technology, we help the poor, mostly women, start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty. Founded in 1997 by a group of friends who were inspired by the work of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, our global network of microfinance partners reaches over 3.6 million families in 25 countries.
Click here to visit Grameen's website.
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