It’s only 9:30 or so, but by the time we pull up outside of Emmanuel Dor’s restaurant, he’s been awake and cooking for hours. Emma, his small establishment in the Pernier neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, has quite the breakfast rush, and Emmanuel and his wife, Chantel, have to be prepared.
He takes us around the back of the building as the dust swirls up around us – Haiti has been caught in a severe drought for the past six months, and the ground is bone dry. When we get to the back, however, Emmanuel gestures to his open kitchen, steam swirling up into the dust from a pan on the fire. Lunch is closer than we think.
For now, though, Emmanuel leads us through the kitchen to the front of the restaurant and gestures to a few chairs stacked against the bright green stone wall. He holds his hat in his hands and meets our gazes steadily as he begins to recount his story.
At first he thought he had no need for loans. He had the restaurant, and he also bred animals to sell on the side. With the money he earned from his enterprise, why would he need to borrow more? Eventually, he tells us with a smile, he realized that, by taking a loan, he would be able to increase his profits and gain even more from his business.
“With a loan, I was able to become a landowner,” he says, beaming.
Emmanuel’s first loan with Accion partner Sogesol was two years ago. He used it to purchase stock for the restaurant and land upon which to raise his animals. Using subsequent loans, he was able to go even further and purchase a car, which helped immensely with making deliveries from the restaurant.
Emmanuel is a savvy businessman and has learned the ins and outs of using loans to improve life for himself, his wife, and their two children. He stresses the importance of being reliable in his business. “I stick to my commitment,” he says. “I am a faithful client.”
He leans closer, and tells us of one day when he had just picked up his $25 loan downtown. On his way home, he was held up at gunpoint and his money was taken from him. Despite this tough setback, he was still able to repay and was proud to do so.
“He’s a fighter,” remarks Bayard, his loan officer.
Emmanuel fights for his business and for his family. “Not one day since I’ve started with Sogesol have my kids been turned away from school for lack of tuition.”
He remembers that when he was young and he needed something, he had to take to the streets and fend for himself. He’s building his business so that his children will never have to go through the same.
“I want the road to be better paved for them,” he says. That is what it all comes down to for Emmanuel.