Small loans, big help for HIV/AIDS victimsFriday, September 22, 2006 – 4:13 pm
Source: Guyana Chronicle
PERSONS living with HIV/AIDS can now access small loans through a partnership with the Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED), a joint Guyana-U.S. government funded project and two of the country’s large businesses.
Twenty-two loans have already been issued to 18 persons living with the disease, and Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday saw the launch of the initiative as “another important step in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
According to Dr Leslie Chin, Chief Executive of IPED, the institute hopes to reach 200 persons by the end of the year. He said the loans granted have been mostly to those who wished to set up a poultry business, and buy and sell goods.
A HIV-positive positive person has set up an internet café and another has set up a hair salon also, he told the Guyana Chronicle.
“Like all of our clients, people living with HIV/AIDS have hopes and aspirations,” he said.
Chin was at the launch of the innovative initiative at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, where together with IPED, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) and the Guyana Lottery Company, were honoured for injecting the funds necessary for the project.
The lead agency in the initiative is the U.S. government-funded Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Programme (GHARP) which scouts around the country’s hospitals and Non-Government Organisations to select the persons who would benefit from the loans by IPED.
The Lottery Company has given an initial G$1M to IPED, which will serve as collateral for the persons who want to access the loans but who do not have anything to pledge in case their business goes bad. IPED itself is putting an additional G$1M as security on the loans.
“This particular idea appealed to us because of the impact that would be made in the areas of empowerment, job creation and the sustainability of livelihoods,” said Ms. Shirnette Noble, Marketing Officer of the Lottery Company.
According to Mr. Terry Holder of GT&T, the telecommunications company will provide G$1M every year to meet the additional administrative costs that IPED would incur in managing this initiative. He said technology should serve the interest and well being of people.
Chin said IPED has designated one person to deal specifically with processing the loan applications of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Ms. Karen Boyle, Clinical Care and Community Officer of GHARP, said she has schooled the IPED loan officer on aspects of HIV/AIDS and people living with the disease.
Ramsammy said Guyana has a serious HIV/AIDS problem, but the country has much to be proud of, and the initiative is one that shows this country’s leadership in fighting the disease.
U.S. Ambassador Mr. David Robinson, hailing the project as “a marvellous success story,” said it will enable persons living with HIV/AIDS to regain control of their lives.
Some 12,000 persons live with HIV/AIDS in Guyana, according to statistics from the National AIDS Programme.