The Microcredit Loan Service in Pignon
MICAPPI in Pignon provides a small loan service to just over 3500 “ti marchands” (small business women and some men). The office in the rectory complex of Notre Dame du Bon Secours is open six days a week with Saturday being the busiest day when the “ti marchands” from adjacent towns and the many chapels converge on the town for the weekly market and find this time convenient to come to the office to repay and/or renew their loans. Each of the surrounding towns and villages on the Grande Plateau has its own market day, so these ti marchands could be traveling six days a week, sometimes as far as 7 miles each way. For these treks the dream is to have a donkey for transportation of goods. Over 750 donkey loans have been given in the last few years and each year that number grows: a sign of growing prosperity in the area. In the last years microcredit borrowers have also started to open permanent storefronts – a new development and another sign of growing prosperity. The dream of education for their children, three meals a day and a tin roof on their homes might now be a possibility. If they have been successful, their husbands might qualify for an oxen loan, another sign of prosperity. (see oxen and donkey loans).
A small loan, typically, is given for a year and requires payment into a savings account and an emergency fund. The savings account is theirs when they leave the program. Payments are amortized and due quarterly. Loans are renewable if the borrower’s credit record is good. Each chapel has a representative on the microcredit committee that meets monthly. Representatives receive a small stipend and a bicycle for transportation and work with the people in their communities to build esprit de corps and make the program viable. Loans are given to groups of five. Each group has a "mother" or a "father" responsible to the representative.
The MICAPPI office is staffed by a full-time microcredit manager, Berteau Zephir seen above at his desk, his secretary, Marie Claude Joseph, his part time assistant Pierre Louis Joizil and 2 part time accountants, Harvey Marcellus and Ernst Noel. Monthly reports are generated to the fundraising arm of MICAPPI, Saint Josephs HPTP of Keyport, NJ.