Archive for January, 2010

Update: Economic Recovery in Haiti and the Americas

January 29, 2010

Alberto Solano joined Grameen Foundation in October 2009 and provides leadership and management oversight for our portfolio and activities across the Americas.  He is leading our economic recovery efforts in Haiti.

Today, Leigh Carter (Executive Director of Fonkoze USA) and I gave a briefing about the current situation and role of microfinance in economic recovery efforts in Haiti.  I also spoke about the role that microfinance plays in relief and recovery efforts after natural disasters and Grameen Foundation’s work in the Americas region.

Leigh currently serves as Executive Director and CFO of Fonkoze USA, which is the US-based support partner of FONKOZE.  Leigh provided an overview of Fonkoze, the current situation in Haiti and its long relationship with Grameen Foundation. (more…)

Simple Acts of Kindness for Haiti

January 19, 2010

by Kay Hixson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Grameen Foundation

Sunday and Monday offered an opportunity to help Haiti in person. Hundreds, maybe thousands, answered the call.

This past Sunday, I visited the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC to deliver baby and medical supplies. People were everywhere, bringing clothes, medicine and all kinds of things. Others were writing checks to support the relief effort, or just standing in the rain wanting to be near. Yes, it was a little chaotic, but no one seemed to mind. No one was pushing or shoving. No one was grumpy or impatient. When the Embassy personnel gave a directive, the crowd followed quickly. Friendly police were everywhere trying to direct traffic, which was backed up for blocks in all directions. Instead of writing parking tickets, the police helped people carry in the supplies and did their best to answer questions. While I was there, I heard that the Embassy-sponsored drive had just received the OK to bring the planes with emergency supplies into Haiti. I left with a lighter heart and was glad to see compassion and generosity in action. (more…)

Letter from the ground: update from Haiti

January 17, 2010

Anne H. Hastings, CEO, Sèvis Finansye Fonkoze (a Grameen Foundation microfinance partner in Haiti). With communications just beginning to come online, Anne was able to send this quick report on the situation of Fonkoze, a microfinance organization serving Haiti. (more…)

GF President Alex Counts: Help Haiti Rebuild

January 15, 2010

GF President Alex Counts talks about next steps for Haiti and how to help the relief effort.

Devastation in Haiti

January 14, 2010

By Kay Hixson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Grameen Foundation

A woman squeezes out of a collapsed house in Narette zone of  Port Au Prince, Haiti. Photo by Ben Depp 1/12/2010

Photo by Ben Depp.

As the hours wear on, we see more and more of the destruction. We just got these photos in today from our partners on the ground in Haiti. It is unimaginable that so many people have perished, but our spirits are lifted when we see heroic acts, people helping each other, and many risking their lives to help save their neighbors. We give a small sigh of relief every time we get a short text message saying “we found someone and they are OK.”

Photo by Ben Depp.

There’s much to be done, short and long term. One way to start is by adding your comment to this blog. We’ll send them to the people of Haiti through our partners and friends in Haiti. You will probably never see the smiles you generate on the face of some weary, displaced Haitian or an exhausted relief worker. But it just might be the boost they need to keep going. I hope you will join us with a comment, and donate if you can.

men carry a body

Photo by Ben Depp.

Help Haiti Rebuild

January 13, 2010

Alex Counts is President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, and the author of “Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance are Changing the World” (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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Battling the odds has never been a new concept to the people of Haiti.Fifty-eight percent of the country’s population is undernourished. Fifty-four percent live on less than US$1.25 a day.

Damage from Haiti's 7.0 magnitude earthquake

Damage from Haiti's 7.0 magnitude earthquake

But despite these conditions, Haiti has also had to endure a number of natural disasters—most recently, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday, January 12, near Port-au-Prince. Damage from the worst earthquake in 250 years has been described as “unimaginable” and “incomprehensible.” All hospitals were leveled by the disaster, and a devastating death toll is expected, potentially in the hundreds of thousands.  The archbishop of Port au Prince is one of those whose lives have been lost, and the offices of the World Bank and InterAmerican Development Bank have been destroyed. (more…)

GF’s Solutions for the Poorest announces savings program for world’s poorest people

January 13, 2010

By Kate Griffin, Director, Grameen Foundation’s Solutions for the Poorest 

There is a common misconception that poor people, especially the very poorest,  can’t save – that they simply don’t have enough money to do so.  Yet, every day, these people are proving us wrong.  They are putting tiny amounts of additional income away – hiding it in their homes, giving it to a neighbor to safekeep, taking part in informal savings clubs that pay out in an established intervals, or buying livestock or jewelry.  

Women at center meeting

All women should have access to microfinance services, like these Fonkoze clients in Haiti.

They know that in order to meet daily needs, or in order to withstand an illness, pay for school fees, and have enough money to buy fertilize for their crops, they will need these sums of money set aside. But these forms are often unreliable – theft can occur, or the neighbor can walk away with your money.  When you need it most, the price of livestock may also be at its lowest.  In order for these poor households to get the most out of their ability to save, they need safe, secure places to save that are conveniently located near their homes.   (more…)