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Fonkoze in Rural Haiti: A Microcredit Success Story

Thousands of independent NGOs operate in Port-au-Prince, but a glance at any mention of Haiti in the news doesn’t set much store in their success. One exception is Fonkoze, Haiti’s alternative microfinance institution. Its four-step microcredit program has been making incredible progress empowering women through small loans, education programs and health services since 1994.

Port-au-Prince — home to over two million people — has hardly a square foot of unused land. It is a densely-packed maze of rubble, unpaved streets and fields of refuse through which Haitians must navigate. 

All participants in Fonkoze’s Chemen Lavi Miyo (CLM) program graduate living in houses with cement floors, sturdy walls, tin roofs and portable water purifiers. In the rural Central Plateau region, a CLM client and her children examine the construction of their new, improved shelter. 

A CLM Case Manager, responsible for measuring clients’ progress and facilitating their education programs, makes his weekly visit to a woman’s home in the Central Plateau. The lesson of the day was family planning. 

The migration of Haitians to the nation’s urban areas has hurt the agriculture sector, ensuring that much of Haiti’s arable land goes uncultivated. The lack of credit available to farmers diminishes their ability to improve farming technology. 

The CLM program — catering to Haiti’s ultra poor women — is headed by Gauthier Dieudonne, pictured here. His goal is to help destitute rural families become empowered through education programs, access to health care, improved housing and start-up microenterprises. 

In rural Fondwa, a coffee bean processing plant stands empty, abandoned long before the January 2010 earthquake. Community members do not expect it to reopen any time soon.

The second step of Fonkoze’s microcredit program, called Ti Kredi or “little credit,”  empowers women by providing them with business know-how and continued health and education services. The women pictured here had gathered to repay a loan with the proceeds of their individual enterprises and to receive a lesson in literacy from their Credit Agent. 

For more information on Fonkoze’s operations, visit To learn about AU’s commitment to sending alternative break groups to Haiti, search Facebook for American University Haiti Compact: Higher Education with Haiti.

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