Financial education and resilience in Haiti

Marco Pasini

Expert in financial inclusion

In 2020, Microfinanza Srl has relaunched, in partnership with Unicef, financial education activities for vulnerable populations in Haiti, on the border with the Dominican Republic.

The year 2020.

A year that will, for sure, have left its mark on people’s minds and in history books. The year in which the world faced a pandemic and an unprecedented economic crisis. If this situation took the world’s population by surprise and demanded a great capacity to adapt, for the Haitian population, this same situation was almost nothing new.

Lockdown or peyi lock in creole, had already been the daily life of Haitians for more than a year, as had the blocking of economic activities, the closure of schools, limited movement, etc. When, in March 2020, the Italian pupils did not return to school after the holidays in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Haitian kids had not gone to school since September 2019. The country had also just cancelled the national carnival festivities for safety, not health, reasons for the second year running. Indeed, since July 2018, the country has been regularly blocked by popular demands for the improvement of living conditions, to which the government is unfortunately unable to respond.

The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is a good symbol of all the tensions that cross the country. In Haiti, income from trade is often informal and unstable. The Dominican Republic presents work opportunities, but also generates situations of violence and vulnerability for hundreds of people who are forced to return to Haiti. The closure of the border, due to the high number of cases in the Dominican Republic, has severely affected the Haitian economy, especially the most vulnerable populations.

In this context of great fragility, if public institutions can no longer play their role in protecting the population, it is at the level of individuals and the community that the resources required to emerge from the crisis can be found. Family financial management becomes even more fundamental to improve the resilience of the population. This is where Microfinanza’s activity is focused, seeking to put itself in the shoes of families who live from small businesses, who cultivate their gardens or sometimes coffee, who have sent their children to work across the border and see them come home. It is a context characterised by great vulnerability, but which also presents important resources: Haitian mutualism is an extraordinary instrument for financial inclusion[1]; groups are organising themselves to support informal work, starting from the multiple initiatives born from the Fwontye San Fòs Kote[2] project which still exist two years after the end of the project; women’s or traders’ associations negotiate the rules of the new bi-national market in the North-East[3]; cultural initiatives continue to emerge[4], etc.

It is in this promising context that Microfinanza’s financial education activities take place.

Below you will find some examples of materials used during our financial education sessions (in Creole). If you would like to access the rest of the material (trainer’s manuals, posters, exercises, etc.), please send us an email at info@microfinanza.com.

 

 

[1]   The MUSOs, or Mutuelles de Solidarité, are mutual savings and credit organisations that are very widespread in Haiti, and are also well organised, offering basic financial services to the population. See http://knfp.org/knfp/ht/index.php or http://www.kofip.org/. Haiti also has a well-developed cooperative movement of Caisses Populaires. See http://anacaph.coop/ or https://lelevier.ht/welcome/index.php.

[2] http://www.fsfk.org/

[3]   See https://www.facebook.com/Plateforme-Genre-du-Nordest-1636490073065031/ or read on https://vantbefinfo.com/

[4] Azüei, for example, is a Haitian-Dominican musical group that works for collaboration on the island of Quisqueya (or Kiskeya, in Haitian Creole) through music https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC13TsMOaHJeRwuaeInHSL2g.

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