Wisconsin Microfinance has an incredibly special relationship with the country of Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010, we developed a program that made small loans to people who lost their businesses and livelihoods. During a visit to the country in 2011, it became clear that Haiti has an extremely interesting history. In 1804, slaves revolted and overthrew their French owners and Haiti became the first black postcolonial republic. Equity and racial equality are enshrined in the country’s Constitution and laws. . From the country’s founding, social, economic, and political turmoil has marked contrasting visions for the future of the country. Currently, political turmoil has once again focused attention on the country, but the people of Haiti are now and have always been the center of major change in their country.
Haiti is in the midst of a political crisis as the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, has refused to leave office after his 5-year term. According to Moise, a coup of his government was attempted, and successfully put down. He responded by firing those that opposed his administration. He further plans to consolidate power by holding a referendum on a new constitution. Citizens have erupted in protest with tens of thousands marching on the Capital. A social media hashtag, #FreeHaiti, has been widely circulated as many citizens have been fed up with the civil unrest and the rising presence of gangs. The hashtag has increased awareness of the ongoing political turmoil and has put more pressure on the government to take action.
During times of crisis, societal institutions start to fail and that is why the work of Wisconsin Microfinance continues to be incredibly important. In addition, the aid that has become so important to Haiti is drying up as many wealthy countries focus inwardly during the ongoing pandemic., Finally, with the world’s economy on shaky ground, the money supply to financial institutions in Haiti is restricted, resulting in demand for loans that cannot be met.
In times like these, microfinance can be a really powerful tool in helping local people who need access to capital for their businesses. The work of Wisconsin Microfinance is more critical than ever as the pandemic and social unrest shake the economic foundation of Haiti. Small loans to individuals help keep many of the struggling businesses afloat. More than ever, the citizens of Haiti need the support of Wisconsin Microfinance. We will always be a partner in fighting to end poverty, promote equality, and provide access to capital.