Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Microenterprise Grows Lila as a Community Leader

Beganabe, Haiti — Lila Etienne is a woman with a vision to help lift her home village of Beganabe, Haiti, out of extreme poverty. Yet not long ago, Lila’s focus was much narrower—simply putting food on the table for her three children.

Lila and her husband worked as a team to make ends meet and together, they ran a small drink stand and sold homemade bread. Her husband would bake the bread while Lila would set prices, purchase ingredients, and manage the money. When Bright Hope’s JELLY program in Beganabe provided an opportunity to take out a microloan, Lila jumped at the chance to grow their business.

With the first loan she received, Lila managed to diversify into new businesses, thereby increasing her family’s income. She grew her drink stand to also sell snacks, expanded her bread baking operation, and started a tailoring business. Each time she paid back a loan, she would take out another and work harder to expand her inventory and grow each of her businesses.

Then one day, strong winds destroyed her oven, eliminating her bread baking business. Recognizing Lila’s hardworking nature, Bright Hope gave her an opportunity to work as a teacher in the local church’s school. She accepted and kept her focus on the future, using her wages to rebuild her bread business, which is now as strong as ever.

Lila has been a leader in her church for many years, but since becoming involved in the microloan program, she is also regarded as a leader in the community. Many people in the village seek her out for personal and professional advice. Seeing her passion for helping others build successful businesses, some in Beganabe suggested she run for city council since the village is one of the poorest and most under-represented in the area. Lila is now running for city council, believing strongly that her community deserves to have a voice.

Lila has grown from a small business owner to a strong leader who cares for the needs of her community. Her story is just one example of how Bright Hope’s microenterprise program helps empower men and women to lift their families and communities out of extreme poverty.