With support from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a partner organization in Guyana is helping people living with HIV/AIDS become more productive and economically independent by providing small loans through a microfinance program. The program empowers HIV-positive men and women by providing loans, ranging from US$375 to US$1,750, which enable recipients to expand their small businesses and support their families.
The loans are made possible by a public-private partnership among the Institute of Private Enterprise Development, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company, and the Guyana Lotto Company. Many people living with HIV/AIDS who receive loans under the project are unable to obtain them through traditional means, either because of their economic status or because of discrimination.
For female beneficiaries, the grants are a source of empowerment. In July 2006, Samantha Brown received a loan to expand her and her husband's business producing cooking utensils. Before obtaining the loan, the couple worked long hours, but could not produce enough each week to meet demand. They used the loan to purchase materials that enabled them to increase production. Now the couple employs several family members in the business.
"This is truly the best thing that has happened to me since learning I had HIV," Samantha said. "I am able to make ends meet and give my daughter, who was born HIV-positive, more nutritious food."
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