Microcredit program for HIV positive entrepreneurs in Thailand

Microlending gives hope to the HIV positive
A microcredit program created by Thailand’s ‘Mr. Condom’ allows the HIV positive to start businesses and earn a living.

By Robert Horn, Fortune | from cnnmoney.com
May 21 2007: 6:03 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) — When Narisara Panya’s husband died of AIDS seven years ago after returning to Thailand from a construction job abroad, it was devastating. With only a small plot of land that didn’t always yield enough food for their two children, 44-year-old Narisara – who became HIV positive herself – needed an income.

But because she was stigmatized in her community, even after starting antiretroviral therapy, no one would hire her. And no banks, or even loan sharks, would lend her money to start a business. “They were afraid of the illness and thought I would die before being able to pay them back,” she says.

An experiment in microcredit came to her rescue. With a 24,000 baht ($685) loan from a program called Positive Partnership, Narisara was able to set up a small business selling ginseng tonic and herbal supplements in roughly 100 neighboring villages.

Now she and her business partner earn 8,000 baht ($228) a month each, more than twice the average income in their village in northeastern Thailand. “My customers know I’m HIV positive,” Narisara says, but they don’t care. “They are surprised at how healthy I look.” – read the rest of this article at moneycnn.com


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