Haiti is not only one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere but it is also located in a region prone to natural disasters. As Haiti seeks to establish a vibrant civil and political society, access to capital is a constant challenge. Thus, microfinance plays a critical role for the majority of the population.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 80 percent of employment in Haiti, the World Bank reported in 2019. Yet most struggle to raise resources to invest in capital improvements. Only 19 percent of Haitians aged 15 or above had access to a bank account, compared with 51 percent of people from Latin America and the Caribbean. With so little access to formal banking services, microfinance is a proven mechanism for getting cash into the hands of the very poor so they can invest in their future and escape poverty with dignity.
1,000 microloans in five years
Wisconsin Microfinance provided its first microloans to the community of Barreau Michel (northwest of Port au Prince) following the January 2010 earthquake. Tom Eggert, founder and current President of the Board, had a Haitian student in his class whose family remained in Port-au-Prince with front row seats to the devastation. The student connected Tom with the founder of an economic development non-profit called the Centre d’Education Chrétienne de Formation et d’Orientation Professionnelle (CECFOP). CECFOP took on the challenge of identifying loan recipients, distributing loans and following up with borrowers.
Wisconsin Microfinance partnered with CECFOP successfully, providing 1,000 microloans in the first 5 years of the program. These loans were reflected in healthier and happier families and a community that grew with the addition of a medical clinic and school.
A new partnership
With the arrival of new board members in 2019, Wisconsin Microfinance forged a new partnership with the Federation of Organizations and Agricultural Technicians (FOTADEL) of Léogâne, a cooperative of 17 farmers’ associations that provides farmers educational and financial support. By the fall of 2020, Wisconsin Microfinance and FOTADEL agreed on the structure of a microfinance program and identified a pilot group of loan recipients. Based on the early success, the program was expanded to all 17 of the regional farmers’ associations.
Microfinance recognizes that poor people are remarkable reservoirs of energy and knowledge, posing an untapped opportunity to create markets, bring people in from the margins and give them the tools with which to help themselves.
Support our Haiti program
The success of the Haiti program is largely attributable to great in country partners who are committed to the success of the loan recipients. Please consider supporting them today!