There are no commercial stores at B-R. Twice a week the community market provides vendors and buyers an opportunity to meet. The majority of vendors are local women who travel all over to acquire goods for resale. Vendors carry goods to the market, usually with the help of a donkey, lay it out for display, and return home with whatever is left at the end of the day. For years the market met at the only crossroad in town for lack of an alternative location. Finally, with FBR support community leaders were able to acquire a flat piece of land not far from town giving the market and the economy a significant boost.
Available capital is key to participating in the local economy. The cost
a bank loan in Haiti is about 20% (if you qualify). A group of 50+ local women called Organizasyon Fanm [Women] Belle-Rivière (OFAB), pooled personal resources to found a fund which provides much more reasonable loans to members. Every year FBR supplements that fund to encourage growth and opportunity. Access to loans is key to participating in the market and sometimes an alternative in the face of unforeseen hardship.
With FBR support, community leaders operate a small store close to the Community Center. Thanks to electricity from the community center and access to the truck for supplies, the store can sell cold drinks and charge mobile devices. A covered patio was added making the store an ideal place for social gatherings, a place to build community. In front of the patio, a new in-ground cistern holds water for the community center to accommodate ever-increasing demand.
The OFAB group proposed a goat-breeding program to provide local women with a new source of income. Goats are sometimes referred to as "four-legged bank accounts." They require very little food or care. A mature female produces an average of two offspring in less than a year. The first female offspring of each goat is given to a new participant. About 40 women have received goats. This year the program will extended to recipients outside of the OFAB group.