For the past few years in mid-January, Madison area non-profits with operations in Haiti have been getting together for a “Haiti roundtable.” The annual meeting was created to help the organizations better cooperate about current goals and initiatives in the country, as well as provide a space to organize ideas and receive status reports. So, to highlight the work that these other amazing non-profits are doing, here is a quick rundown on a few of the Madison organizations that are actively working to improve Haiti from the ground up.
Singing Rooster was founded in 2009 by husband and wife duo Christophe and Molly Nicaise who wanted to use the power of sustainable business to help grow communities. The organization focuses on providing fair trade coffee from Haiti, directly paying farmers and cutting out the middle figures. Singing Rooster pays a minimum of $3 per pound (fair trade baseline is $1.40), which in nine years of purchases has added up to 1.1 million dollars paid out to over 10,000 farmers. Not only do they provide the farmers with a fair and direct payment, they also train farmers in harvest management practices, and have increased export yields for their trainees by 31%. As 65% of Haiti’s land is steeply sloped, coffee is one of the few crops that can be reliably grown on the treacherous terrain. However, it also means that getting these crops to market is quite a challenge. In addition, Singing Rooster has built in-roads to give farmers direct market access and the ability to go from seed to sale without using any predatory middlemen.
HEALTH MINISTRIES FOR HAITI
Health Ministries for Haiti was founded in 2007 by Jennifer Wetzel to help build healthcare infrastructure in Haiti and support the already existing programs run by Foundation Good Samaritan in Action (FBSA). The FBSA had previously been working in the country to expand healthcare services including primary care, preventative medicine, and public health education to Haitians. Health Ministries for Haiti aims to further the reach of the FBSA by providing training, technical assistance, and operating support for the nearby hospitals that lack the expertise. Since the 2010 earthquake, Health Ministries for Haiti has been responsible for over $100,000 in aid for clinics and other programs as well as beginning courses to train nurses.
Wisconsin Microfinance was created in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, with the aims of creating a program that would help Haitians, who had just had their entire lives upended, return to normalcy. The product was the creation of a micro-loan organization, making capital available to people who simply wanted to rebuild their homes, their businesses, and their lives. Using contacts on the ground, Wisconsin Microfinance was able to set up a recycling loan pool that was immediately refilled whenever a loan was repaid, ready to be doled out again to help another small business owner expand both their operations and their prospects. Since the initial program in the town of Barreau Michel, Wisconsin Microfinance has amplified its operations in Haiti to include another site called Mozayik, growing its presence in the Haitian financial spheres. With hundreds of lenders graduating through the loan pool at a 98% repayment rate, Wisconsin Microfinance has been a crucial component in the economic recovery of the individuals and communities of Haiti.