Belle-Rivière is a farming community. They produce corn, millet, charcoal and sisal. There are very few other economic opportunities. The hub of all local business is the community market which meets every Monday and Friday. After years of displaying their wares literally "in the middle of the road," a large field purchased by FBR (above) has become a true marketplace which hosts organized space, vendor-erected sales booths, and latrines.
Community Market: After years of searching, community leaders were able to purchase a rare, flat plot of ground on the edge of town. The market lends itself to more shoppers and vendors. The space has been organized for various types of activity, vending, slaughtering animals, donkey parking, and gardening. A public latrine has been built. In the next stage of development TPC would like to construct a central pavilion for the many vendors who must sit on the ground without protection from the sun. The same structure will collect rain water for drinking and sanitation.
Production: Liz Alig, a professional clothing designer from Indianapolis who specializes in making products from recycled materials, showed women how to make purses from T-shirts and plastic bags. Several batches of purses have been sold in Indianapolis. A group of purse makers continue that effort in collaboration with advisors from Indy who suggest and help procure appropriate models and materials.
Micro-Lending: Financial capital is all but unavailable to rural women without collateral. When a loan can be found the interest rate is exorbitant. Years ago local women pooled personal savings to create a small revolving loan fund. FBR has considerably enhanced that fund. More than 50 local women borrow money from the fund to buy goods and materials which they sell in neighboring markets.
Community Store: Mini-markets are a standard in Haiti. These are typically one-room affairs which offer whatever the owner is good at procuring. Capitalizing on their unique source of electricity, TPC built a small store at the community center to sell drinks, and snacks. They also charge cell phones and laptop computers, all for a small profit which is used to support community projects. Solar lights are also sold at the store for about half of their actual cost. Proceeds from the sale of the lights are used exclusively to fund the house reconstruction project.