Many Haitians thought they couldn’t save money. That is, until they applied the practical teaching from SALT microloan meetings. Now, the realization that they are able to save is giving Haitians hope for the future. This hope gets them out of bed in the morning and motivates them for their work. Families who lived in miserable, hopeless situations are now embracing a different life. Children wandering the streets and mountain paths without funding for school can now don a school uniform and join the ranks of those being educated.
While loans are certainly a part of the SALT microloan program, our primary interest is to introduce godly stewardship practices that can make a lasting difference. Here are a few aspects of the microloan program that help to bring sustainable change that will linger long beyond the structure of the program.
The concept of saving is introduced at the very beginning when an individual joins a microloan group. Before they are even eligible to receive a loan, they are required to go through an introductory course. Part of the introductory course is to deposit a small amount of savings at each meeting. This proves they are serious about the program. Mandatory savings continues even after they receive their loan. Our hope is that clients will continue to save for emergency needs even after they graduate from the program.
A small business loan can give the startup capital that someone needs to get a small business up and running. When a client has gone through all the needed requirements and worked together with their local accountability group to develop a business plan, they are then eligible for a small loan. When this time comes, they are inspired to make that money work for them. Up until that point, they have received Bible-based teaching through the regular meetings to help them realize they can make a living. Once they get the business running and their loan repaid, our hope is that they will no longer need loans.
The experience of having savings on hand for emergency needs is a huge encouragement. Many Haitian have watched their parents struggle to provide. For generations, putting food on the table has been difficult. Many saw their parents and others depend on aid organizations for help. This has resulted in low self-esteem and a mindset of dependency. The simple experience of operating a small business, providing for needs, and saving for unexpected expenses is satisfying and fulfilling.
A steady diet of Biblical teaching at SALT microloan meetings has the potential to bring the greatest change. The manual used at microloan meetings has two parts to each lesson: a portion focusing on practical spiritual teaching and a portion focusing on Bible-based business and stewardship practices.
For some clients, the first time they hear the Gospel is at SALT meetings. Their lives are changed as they hear God’s Word, watch His principles lived out, and allow the Spirit to work in their hearts. Some Haitians who have lived with partners for years are now convicted to get married. We praise God for working these miracles in the hearts of people, not only in Haiti, but also in other parts of the world where the SALT microloan program is operating.