Linda Mathé is financially empowered thanks to an UMCOR training program which helps earthquake-affected women entrepreneurs learn fundamental business concepts, and more. Mathé is pictured here with her daughter Dayana, 8-years old.
By Jules Roberto Bernard*
January 22, 2014—Linda Mathé once led a comfortable life. “My husband had a bakery, and my four children went regularly to school without any financial impediment. Plus I had a house,” she said. That was before the earthquake. Linda, her husband, and children now live in a house provided by the United Nations Development Programme in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti changed everything for Linda’s family. They lost all they had. Linda considers herself fortunate, though, because she did not lose any relatives.
“After the earthquake, my husband, children—including my then four-year-old daughter, who has a disability—and I settled in the street. Soon afterward, we sent our children to live with family outside the capital,” she said. “I found a job in an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, but it didn’t help very much, and I continued living in misery.”
To help her family financially, Linda started a small business selling fried foods. She had to close the business a few months later because she didn’t have enough money to continue. She scaled back and started selling only hot dogs each afternoon, but, she said, “It was not enough to take care of my family.”
It was at this point that Linda encountered a program run by the Haiti field office of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) called Strengthening Entrepreneurship and the Economy through Women’s Business Development, or SEED.
Created in May 2012, SEED provides training in fundamental business concepts and financial literacy to earthquake-affected women entrepreneurs in the capital area. At the end of the training, each beneficiary will have prepared a business plan to change, expand, or otherwise improve their existing businesses. Each participant then receives a small grant to implement their plans. Linda has been an active participant in the program since August 2013.
“Oh! This training has done a lot for me, and I feel I can rise up,” she said. “From the very first day, I have found there are lots things that I did not know about business before. Now I know more.”
Linda said she feels this training has increased her capacity to manage her business, and she believes she will be more successful. She has already planned to use her UMCOR Haiti grant to radically change her business plan, swapping out her small hot dog business for a cosmetics shop. She encouraged UMCOR Haiti to continue to support other women in her community.
Four years after the earthquake that devastated the country, Haitians like Linda Mathé are working hard at building back their lives and creating a future for their families. Your gift to Haiti Response, Advance #418325, will help UMCOR support them in that endeavor.
*Jules Roberto Bernard is UMCOR Haiti livelihoods officer.