Micro-enterprise for Women
Breaking the cycle of poverty can start with one small loan. As an extension of International Child Care's health work, a Micro-Enterprise initiative was developed in the late 1980s to help release women and their children from poverty's grasp. Today, ICC has eleven existing Micro-Enterprise groups, averaging ten women each, as part of the Integrated Community Health Program in northern Haiti and is currently expanding to other regions.
A local Health Committee, chosen by fair election, nominates respectable, trustworthy women from the community for ICC´s Micro-Enterprise Loan Program. Once a woman is nominated and accepted into the program she is then required to attend a five-day training session covering topics such as accounting and money management. Once she completes her training, a formal contract is drawn up and signed.
Each participant is eligible to complete nine eight-month cycles in ICC´s Micro-Enterprise Loan Program. The women meet every two weeks to share and support each other and to make a payment to International Child Care. 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 are approximately $50 US and are low interest.
Woman enrolled in ICC´s Micro-Enterprise Loan 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. Some women choose to focus on selling items that aren't readily available in their villages or to sell seasonal items like school supplies in the fall or Christmas items in December.
Through the support of Micro-Enterprise loans, women are able to generate income and become more self- sufficient, providing their families with the basic necessities that poverty denies such as food, health care, education, improved living conditions and hope for a better future.