Written by Phyllis Richards
In a country with an estimated 75% unemployment rate, where do young people go after graduating from their classical studies program (high school) if they have no money for university? If they are part of CONASPEH (The National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti), they head for a Micro-Savings and Micro-Enterprise program, under the direction of Tim Fonderlin.
Recently, a group of young adults from a district just outside the capital of Port-au-Prince did just that. Now they are well on their way to saving enough money to start a small hardware store in their community. Tim, assisted by his wife Diane, worked with the young people to help them plan to collectively save a specified amount of money for 6 months. The Fonderlin’s guided them as they elected officers, ran group meetings, and made rules to protect their projected investment. “In a nutshell, the young adults did all the work” said Tim. “They are using their own money for the savings; making decisions as to what kind of savings program to follow; determining whether to save individually or collectively; and right from the start they narrowed which enterprise to choose by conducting a community survey to see what kind of business would offer the best sustainability”.
Without much money, these "20-somethings" are doing every kind of odd job they can find to be able to contribute to their savings group. They have also decided that none of them will realize a salary for the first month or two from their business as they want to have as much “start-up” money as possible.
“Unbeknownst to the group, the Micro-Savings and Micro-Enterprise Program will match their savings at the end of six months with monies given by generous friends and donors. The extra money should give them a good start on their hardware store and will, hopefully, permit them to realize profits that will ultimately help provide tuition monies for university. We pray, too, it will give them a good start in life”, said Tim.
Tim and Diane Fonderlin are One Great Hour of Sharing fully supported Global Ministries Mission Personnel serving in Haiti.