By Alberto Solano, Regional CEO, Latin America and the Caribbean, Grameen Foundation
Eleven months have passed since an earthquake devastated the country of Haiti.
Many of you made a generous gift to help Haitian families rebuild their businesses and their lives and entrusted Grameen Foundation to carry out this important work. I want to report to you on how we used the funds you provided.
Nearly 100% of the $157,000 we raised is now invested in the people of Haiti. Of that, 59% was disbursed within just a few weeks of the earthquake.
More than 19,000 microfinance clients of our long-time partner Fonkoze (the largest microfinance provider in the country) lost their homes and/or businesses, driving many of these poor families even deeper into poverty. You made it possible for us to quickly disburse $92,000 to Fonkoze to relocate and completely equip seven microfinance branches that had been destroyed by the quake, and repair three branches that had been damaged. With this infrastructure back in place, money was rapidly put into the hands of people who needed it most in the critical weeks following the earthquake. In fact, Fonkoze’s branches were open for business before the country’s commercial banks.
You also made possible two high-impact projects to support economic recovery efforts in Haiti – projects that we believe have the potential to reach many poor Haitians in the future:
- A Way to Save: The poor typically save cash at home, where it is vulnerable to theft, or buy livestock or other tangible goods they can quickly sell, sometimes at a loss, when needed. Thanks to your assistance, Grameen Foundation and Esperanza International, another local partner, funded self-help savings groups in severely affected areas in Miragoaine and Belladere. This program will give 2,250 poor families the opportunity to safely set money aside (in deposits too small for commercial banks) and recover more quickly if they face financial hardship due to healthcare problems, family emergencies or natural disasters.
- Clean Water to Drink: As the recent cholera epidemic highlighted, inadequate access to safe water sickens – and kills – poor people every day. Unhealthy people cannot work. With your support, Grameen Foundation is partially funding a water-purification system, working with our partner Esperanza International. It is located in the southwest of the island and will provide 5,000 gallons of clean water every day and serve approximately 1,100 people who would otherwise be at risk of drinking, cooking and using contaminated water. This is a pilot project – if it works, we hope to launch many more throughout the country, helping even more Haitians.
If you are interested in volunteering, we are recruiting Bankers without Borders™ volunteers for two projects. The first project will develop materials to educate the local community on how to encourage good health and hygiene practices to prevent the spread of cholera, use and maintain the water treatment plant, and protect water as a natural resource. The second project involves evaluating the financial model for the treatment plant and the business processes needed to create either a sustainable business or recoup the initial investment. Please e-mail us using “Haiti” as the subject line if you would like to be notified of these or similar volunteer opportunities.
Thank you for your generosity and concern for the world’s poorest.