Food insecurity and hunger are chronic issues in Haiti. While extreme poverty throughout Haiti has declined over the past decade, extreme poverty rates in rural areas have stayed largely the same. According to The World Bank, 70% of rural households in Haiti are considered chronically poor, meaning that they live below Haiti's poverty line on less than $2 per day, and lack access to basic goods and services.
International Child Care's (ICC) Micro-Enterprise Loan Program was developed to release women and their children from poverty's grasp. It was first created as an extension of ICC's community health work in northern Haiti. We've found that one small loan can break the cycle of poverty.
Locally elected health committees in the communities ICC serves nominates respectable, trustworthy women from the community to join the program. After completing a five-day training session covering topics such as accounting and money management, a formal contract is drawn up and signed. Each participant is eligible to complete nine cycles of the program. The women meet every two weeks to share and support each other and to make a payment to ICC. At the end of each cycle, the women are evaluated by their peer group and given the opportunity to request a new loan. Loan amounts start at approximately $50 US and are low interest.
Woman enrolled in the program typically use their loans to buy items in bulk, such as rice, sugar or soap, and then sell them in smaller quantities in the local market. Estellina, 65, from Jolitrou has completed her third cycle of the program with great success. She buys cocoa beans from a farmer in Jolitrou and then resells them to a speculator in Grand Riviere du Nord. After her first cycle with the program, the speculator was so impressed with her, that he signed a formal contract to protect their partnership. Estellina has nine children to support, four of which are children of her deceased sister. Although her children are older, they have been unable to find work, leaving Estellina to also provide for her youngest son's three children.
"I have enough to help them," says Estellina, who, like other women in the program, has been able to grow her business and provide a better standard of living for her entire family. "Life was not always this good for us," she reflects. "I am thankful that I can feed my family now."
You can support women like Estellina by donating to ICC today.