Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and suffers from a history of political instability, poor health care and high levels of illiteracy and unemployment.
Approximately 15 percent of the estimated demand for microfinance is currently being met, where over 5.4 million people [65 percent] live below the national poverty line.
Here Seachange partners with Fonkoze, Haiti’s Alternative Bank for the Organised Poor, and is the countries largest microfinance institution. It offers a full range of financial and non-financial services to the poor, primarily the rural poor, through its 32 branches throughout the country. Its mission is to build an economic foundation for democracy.
Fonkoze is Haiti’s most innovative Microfinance institution [MFI] currently serving more than 50,000 borrowers and 230,000 depositors in all parts of the country.
For 17 years Fonkoze has worked to fight rural poverty in Haiti by providing its clients mostly women, with access to the financial and educational tools they need to realise lasting improvements in their lives.
Founded in 1994, Fonkoze is owned an operated by its members. Its innovative remittance program that allows Haitians living abroad to safely, affordably and conveniently send money home was honoured by CGAP’s Pro-Poor Innovation Award in 2003.
In 2007 Seachange Foundation commenced its partnership with Fonkoze and has provided over €200,000 to help with the branch expansion plans since then to ensure that as many of Haiti’s rural poor can receive the financial services they require.
A massive and crippling earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12th 2010.In the wake of this unprecedented disaster, Fonkoze’s social performance management system and in house capacity enabled them to act quickly to design a tailored and appropriate disaster response that met clients immediate needs.
Fonkoze provided the earthquake victims who lost their homes , businesses or both with:
- A one off cash grant of $125 to assist with emergency needs.
- Cancellation of pre-earthquake loan balance.
- A new loan to restart their business if they were qualified, based on Fonkoze’s careful capacity assessment.
Seachange Foundation provided $55,000 to support this project in the Leogane area of Haiti where the epicentre of the earthquake occurred and the town was totally destroyed. This support has helped hundreds of families in this area rebuild their shattered lives with independence and dignity.