It starts with one seed

Supporting small business growth in the Mayaro region, where agriculture and fishing play a significant role in the local economy, has been a long-term investment for bpTT. Back in 2001, the company provided a seed-fund of US$1.2 million (or TT$7.2 million) to launch the Mayaro Initiative for Private Enterprise Development (MIPED).

MIPED is the country’s first privately-developed micro-finance lending organization – with its headquarters at the Mayaro Resource Centre – and has issued over TT$50 million in loans, supporting the creation of small businesses. Within two years of its inception, the not-for-profit group became self-sustaining thanks to the repayment of loans, which then allowed more funds to be made available for other would-be small business owners. 

Among those to receive a MIPED loan are the dynamic husband and wife team of Roderick Ragbir and Ann Marie Massiah, both farmers and residents in the community. 

Roderick and Ann Marie’s journey with MIPED began in Cascadoux, Kernahan, in a single bedroom home with just a few appliances. When he first decided to become “a serious businessman”, his lack of capital and assets were a major hindrance. Undeterred, he approached several banking institutions but as he put it “no one wanted to give me anything.” MIPED however was different. “The value of the first loan I accessed was TT$5000 and at the time my wife and I were the only employees in our farming business. Five loans later and my farming business now spans over 10 acres of cultivated land and provides year round employment for 10 workers.

“MIPED has always treated me real good. It is because of them that I have been able to expand my land holdings and invest in new and more advanced farming equipment and pesticides for my crops. All the farmers in my community have accessed MIPED loans.” 

His wife Ann Marie added: “Through MIPED and other initiatives, bpTT has stood up for the poor man in the community. If you have a skill and want to come out of poverty, MIPED is the way. MIPED is where everybody gets a start.”