We currently have two areas of concentration, in Barreau Michel, Haiti, and one in Bohol, Philippines. Through these programs, we have provided over 1,000 loans to entrepreneurs to build their own businesses, so that they may increase their income, provide for their families, and increase the quality of their lives. We have had above 98% repayment and have hundreds of individuals on our waiting list for a loan. We have seen an investment in these communities as the quality of life of the people and their families increase.
Once each 6-month loan is repaid, it reenters the community via our loan pool, creating a sustainable, self-refilling cycle of lending. This way, with a single donation of just $50, a life changing loan will be provided to an individual and their family an unlimited number of times, making a monumental impact.
Haiti is a small island nation home to the poorest people in the Americas; over half of Haitians live on less than $1 a day with over 80% of the population living under the poverty line. As a result of cost, location, among other things, over half of Haitian children do not attend school, resulting in a literacy rate under 50%.
Haitians were already struggling to survive. Then the earthquake hit.
On a Tuesday in January 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit, its epicenter just miles from the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince. What little education, health care, and other building structures existed crumbled to the ground.
Official estimates put the death toll over 300,000 with an additional 300,000 injured and 1.3 million individuals displaced with over 90,000 homes destroyed. In all, the earthquake inflicted $7.8 billion in damage.
It has been assessed as the worst earthquake in the region in over 200 years.
Wisconsin Microfinance was formed in 2010 following the earthquake with initial goals to assist with recovery efforts. We have dedicated ourselves to continue to help Haitians one at a time. Through local connections, we have a lending program in Haiti in the rural community of Barreau Michel.
Gelian dela Cruz (11) is worried that her school is ruined. She was even excited to do an oral recitation the day when the storm struck their town in Barangay Libertad, Bogo City, Cebu. The full scale of the disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is only now becoming apparent.
Bohol is a small island tucked into the central Visayas of south-central Philippines. For a long time, only a few strong typhoons had caused any real damage to Bohol, but in recent years the changing weather patterns have created new hazards to the region.
People were already poor. But then Typhoon Haiyan hit.
On November 7, 2013, the Philippines was devasted by one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded, Typhoon Haiyan. Once the skies cleared and the dust settled, Haiyan had claimed a total of 6,340 lives and caused a total of $4.55 billion throughout the region. Four million peoples had their homes destroyed and the superstorm affected the lives of over 14 million in the island nation.
A group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who had served in the Philippines wanted to make a difference and help the people and families affected. Studying the principles of Muhammad Yunus and the success of our Haiti project, we came together to develop a plan that would rebuild the community economies through micro-loans.
With the help of some family friends, Wisconsin Microfinance was able to identify a target microfinance cooperative, VICTO, that was already making micro-loans in other communities in the region. Together, VICTO and Wisconsin Microfinance decided to target a few small communities on Bohol called Loon and Pres. Carlos Garcia.