It All Started With a Taxi Ride
January, 2017

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matt. 25:40

Published by the Society of the Good Shepherd, P. O. Box 122, Amberson, PA 17210. (717) 349-7033

In the mid-1980’s, Deborah and I were visiting a poor, Caribbean country. We had paid a taxi driver a fixed fee to drive us around all day to different sites. Before we left the town in which we were staying, the driver stopped by his house to drop something off for his wife. We immediately noticed the extreme poverty in which he and his family were living.

Honduras microloan During the course of the day, we conversed with the taxi driver about how the taxi business worked in his country. We learned that he didn’t own the taxi he was driving—which was no surprise. He explained to Deborah and me that he had to return the taxi every night with a full tank of gas to the taxi owner, who was wealthy. He then had to pay the owner for the daily rental of the taxi. If he didn’t pay, he would not be allowed to use the taxi the next day, and that would be the end of his employment.

The driver said he had to pay for his own gas. Whatever he earned in cab fares each day was his to keep—less gas and less the daily rental. Judging from the poverty in which this man and his family lived, he obviously wasn’t earning great profits. Nevertheless, if he didn’t earn enough fares to pay for the daily rental, that was too bad. He still owed the daily rental. He was allowed no excuses and no second chances.

Two days later, when Deborah and I were flying back to the U.S., we kept pondering the situation of this poor taxi driver. We saw that he was locked into poverty, and there was virtually no way out of it. However, if someone could loan this man the money to pay for his own taxi, he could eventually climb out of poverty. Instead of paying daily rental for someone else’s taxi, he could be making daily payments on his own taxi. Once he paid it off, it would be his to keep, and then he would have the opportunity to climb out of his situation.

We pondered the idea for many years, and it eventually led to the establishment of the Society of the Good Shepherd’s loan ministry in Honduras. Although I had originally pictured making loans for taxis, I learned that it wasn’t as easy as I had originally thought.

Honduras microloan To begin with, in Honduras (and perhaps most countries) a person can’t just buy a car and start his own taxi business. He has to buy a “taxi number” from the government. This is a special permit that allows him to operate a specific car as a taxi. Not only is this special permit very expensive, but there are only a limited number of them available for a given geographic area. This is so there won’t be an over-abundance of taxis in a given town, such that no one can make a decent income from driving a taxi. However, it makes it hard for a new person to break into the taxi business (except as a non-owner/driver), because usually there are no available permits. The wealthy persons who snapped up the original permits usually renew them every year. They rarely let go of them.

Second, we soon learned that the cost of a used taxi, plus the cost of the license (if one were available), would require a larger loan than what we can prudently make in a developing country. So it would take a special situation, for us to be able to follow through with the original idea that launched the Society of the Good Shepherd’s ministry.

Well, a few months ago, that special situation finally presented itself when we met Nelson and Heydi Caballero. They are a hard working couple. They have been married for 9 years and have two children, Nelson Johan (5 years old) and Grace Esther (3 years old). Nelson has been a taxi driver for 6 years. Over those years, Nelson has built up an established clientele—in addition to random customers who flag him down. In the past, like most taxi drivers, Nelson did not own the taxi he drove. Not only was he responsible for the daily fee and gas, but also for any repairs on the taxi. So on many days, he made very little income. On some days, he made none at all. Yet, Nelson saw that driving a taxi would be a profitable business, if he could own his own taxi.

Honduras microloan After years of praying and waiting, the opportunity finally arose for Nelson and Heydi to buy a used taxi at a very reasonable price, along with the special taxi permit attached to the vehicle. They did not need to come up with all of the cash at once. They only needed to make a down payment, and then the seller would allow them to make regular payments out of Nelson’s earnings. So they applied to the Society for a loan for the required down payment. After reviewing their situation, the Society directors in Honduras decided it met our standards and made the loan to them.

Now, Nelson has his own taxi and his own permit, and is so thankful to God and to the donors who made his loan possible.

The Society of the Good Shepherd, P. O. Box 122, Amberson, PA 17210 • (717) 349-7033

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100% of all donations go to the designated work in Honduras. We pay our own overhead and travel expenses. All loans made are interest-free. The Society of the Good Shepherd is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible.