Tony entered the ECLOF program among the ranks of the unemployed. He had started badly in his life. While his whole family had immigrated to the US, he was expelled back to his native Jamaica because of several crimes related to his drug addiction. As he had no relatives left in Jamaica, he had to live on the streets hustling for survival and burdened with his ad-diction. In this moment of despair, he became a Christian and took control of his life.
Members of the church directed him to a drug rehabilitation centre to rid him of his addiction to crack and cocaine. In the final stages of treatment each patient was asked to get involved in productive activity. Tony’s job was to sell snow cones to raise funds toward the operation of the centre.
Tony went on to complete a diploma at a Church College in three years. He then needed to find a job urgently to cover his daily needs. He had the idea of using the expertise he got at the snow cone stand and start one of his own. His father agreed to finance a machine for crushing ice but Tony lacked capital to buy to rest of the material, such as a cool box, a portable table or the ice-cream ingredients. His pastor eventually connected him to ECLOF Jamaica who assisted Tony in his endeavor through several successive loans.
Tony reported “I started taking baby steps and kept paying my loan on time, I then took a second loan always focused on making my payments. I have now reached a place where I have grown from strength to strength. Recently I moved the business location into an area where traffic is so high that I cannot manage the demand on my own”. As a consequence, Tony now hired an employee.
Tony’s business has helped him transform his life and achieve economic independence. He is now happily married and the main breadwinner for his family. Tony explained the joy he feels when he considers his current circumstances : “I am very grateful to ECLOF for the faith they had in me, in starting my business and getting my life back on track. I really hope that anyone who reads my interview will make the first step and ECLOF will become a great help to them as they were to me. ECLOF has made the difference in my life.”