Justine Jean Toussaint
Justine Jean Toussaint was studying and working as a health worker in Port-au-Prince when her father became ill. She decided to return to her hometown, Cayes Jacmel, located on the southern coast of Haiti. In Cayes Jacmel, jobs were few and Justine had a difficult time finding work. As a result, her family told her that she should put her health knowledge to work and open a pharmacy. Justine borrowed money from her aunt and a community group and in 1993 her pharmacy was open for business.
Initially, Justine would go to each of the doctors’ offices in the area carrying bags of medicines to increase her sales. However, by 2000, Justine’s pharmacy had grown substantially as had her need for financing.
Justine joined Fonkoze’s business development program in 2000. With her first loan of 75,000 (now worth about $2,000) she increased her supplies. With her second loan, which was double the first, she added a new product line: voodoo medicines that her customers had been demanding. Justine’s third loan enabled her to expand her pharmacy to include food products, soda, and candy.
Now, her pharmacy is an attractive building with medicines neatly organized on shelves behind a long counter and with a mini market within. She has hired an assistant to help her run the business, especially since she has returned to school in order to get her high school diploma.
Justine said that the loans from Fonkoze have helped her grow her business. However, she has bigger ambitions. She would like her loan amount to increase so she can buy in bulk and begin selling treated water. She would also like to continue her education in the field, particularly in lab work and testing.
Justine told us that last year’s political problems and continuing insecurity have made it difficult for her to travel to Port-au-Prince and replenish her supplies. She looks to Fonkoze to help her to get through this time and do what is best for her business.
Article by: Theresa Smolen