Combating Poverty in Haiti

When the 2010 Earthquake left 1 million Haitians homeless and more than 600,000 injured or killed, the international community responded en masse. That response has continued over the years, as the effects of the earthquake continue to compound the preexisting battle with combating poverty in Haiti.

As that response evolves, many aid sources are focusing on entrepreneurial aid which produces business. Micro-loans for mobilizing small-scale chicken farms are one example of the business-aid model in action that exists to combat poverty in Haiti.

KORE Foundation supports impoverished Haitians by doing just that. Their investments enable families to establish chicken farms, with the generated business often increasing their annual income by 400 percent or more.

When these families are then able to repay the initial loan, the funds are reinvested in other Haitian families. In keeping with the foundation’s mission of going “beyond relief,” this model is combating poverty in Haiti by funding self-sufficiency. In addition, it keeps relief funds at work by promoting a cycle of reinvesting dollars into the community.

Supporting small-scale chicken farmers does more than allow Haitians to provide for their families as entrepreneurs. In a country where two-thirds of children are malnourished, the increased availability of poultry and eggs represents an invaluable source of dietary protein.

Organizations active in offering micro-loan aid in Haiti often provide business skills training as well, like the partnership between Love a Child and Open Hand. The duo provides micro-loans to other Haitian business owners interested in economic growth.

Through financial mentorship, the organization provides recipients management skills as they grow their businesses and repay their loans. These micro-loans support the average Haitian who would not otherwise qualify for bank loans, preventing them from having to turn to micro-loans that charge interest rates approaching 40 percent.

Combating poverty in Haiti represents no small task. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the need for investment in families’ ability to generate a stable income is dire. With 78 percent of the country’s inhabitants living on only $2 per day, generating sufficient income is an everyday difficulty. Two-thirds of the country’s labor force hold informal jobs, making stability an important goal for aspiring business owners.

In the six years following the earthquake in Haiti, many members of the international community have questioned how to offer effective humanitarian aid. Among the largest concerns are the well-meant actions (like rebuilding local schools and offering free health services) out-competing local laborers and unknowingly robbing these locals of an income.

Organizations offering micro-loans for sustainable business like chicken farming seek to circumvent these concerns. Investment in self-sufficiency enables local laborers and thus an entire community.

Charlotte Bellomy

Photo: Flickr