Growing up without parents, Julmiste’s life in Haiti was not easy. His father abandoned the family before Julmiste was born. Then his mother died some years later while he was still young. Julmiste’s older sister raised him and his two brothers the best she could.
As an adult, Julmiste had no one to stand behind him as he struggled to make a living. “I faced difficult times,” he said. “Sometimes for up to fifteen days I couldn’t lay my hands on even ten gourdes (11 cents USD).”
Julmiste wanted to be in business but never had the money to get started. No one trusted him enough to loan money to him because he was young and had no parents to help pay his debt if he couldn’t.
When Julmiste was first introduced to the SALT savings group, he came to the meeting out of curiosity. “I did so just to follow along and see what was in it for me,” he said. But after hearing some of the teaching, Julmiste was convinced it was a good program. “I was immediately interested in joining the group,” he said.
Julmiste was soon able to get a small loan from the savings group to start a business of making laundry soap. He worried that he would not be able to repay the loan in time. But within three months, he was debt free. “I was motivated,” Julmiste said. “I wanted to borrow more money and make my business grow.”
To expand his business, Julmiste borrowed more money from the savings pool and combined it with the profits he had from selling soap. This time, he was able to add soap-making products to his inventory. Other businesses in his city sold soap, but only a few sold the actual products to make it. Julmiste also began giving free classes to help customers learn how to make their own soap, using his products.
With this addition, Julmiste’s business grew so fast he couldn’t meet all the demands of his customers. He asked for a third loan to supply enough products for his customers. At first, the group was hesitant because of the amount of the loan, but the committee members remembered his faithfulness in repaying the previous loans. They gave him another loan that needed to be repaid in four months. “By God’s grace, I repaid the loan before the four months were up,” Julmiste said. “I kept trying to apply Biblical principles in my business at all times. I made effort to practice honesty in the way I sold to clients and by paying my debt.”
Today Julmiste’s business is flourishing. “Things are changing for me,” he said. “My business, Lavoisier Production, is among the five biggest enterprises in Haiti that sells products to make laundry soap.”
Julmiste concludes, “What has helped me the most is the Bible teaching and the business teaching. I follow the examples and stories of others who succeeded when they applied good principles. Their examples give me strength to advance when I face hard times.”