Economy:Devastated January 12, 2010 by its most damaging earthquake in 200 years, Haiti is the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world; some 80% of Haitians live in poverty, with 54% living in abject poverty. Haiti's economy suffers from rampant inflation, a lack of investment, a severe trade deficit and high unemployment. The infant mortality rate of 71.7 deaths/1,000 live births is more than 11 times that of the U.S.
Chronic hunger and desperation sparked food riots in 2008. The riots were followed by a succession of four punishing hurricanes that killed nearly 800 people, destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and washed away what meager possessions many people had.
A recent Associated Press story on the depth of Haiti's poverty and its resulting food crisis reported that many poor Haitians have resorted to eating dirt to fill their bellies: "It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau." See AP story for more details.
Nearly 70 percent of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming. With widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force lack formal jobs. Haiti has experienced little formal job creation in the last ten years, although the informal economy is growing.
Climate for microfinance:
- Microfinance is an integral part of the relatively underdeveloped financial system.
- The regulatory environment is uncertain. U.S. Dept. of Commerce calls Haitian law, "deficient in a number of areas, including…bank and credit operations."
- Widespread corruption and frequent crime are major problems in Haiti.
FINCA Haiti (Founded 1989)
Headquartered in Port au Prince, FINCA Haiti currently has 10 branches all over the country in Aquin, Cap Haitien, Hinche Jacmel, Les Cayes, Limbe, Petite Goâve, Ounaminthe, Miragoâne, and St. Marc.
Our average client is a married woman with 3-7 children who sells food stuffs, cookware, charcoal, used clothing, or soft drinks in a local market near her home. Even $1 per day of added income has an enormous impact on their families' quality of life.
Famn Vayant and Small Success Stories
Village Banking groups: 216
Percent women: 84%
Loans outstanding: $654,708
On-time repayment: 98.2%
Average loan: $424
Services: Village Banking and enterprise banks
Geography: Haiti occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic, and includes a number of smaller islands.
Population: 9.6 million
Ethnicities: black 95 %, mulatto and white 5 percent%
Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, none 1%, other 3%.
Average life expectancy: 29.3 years
Median age: 21.1 years
Literacy: 53 percent—one of the lowest rates in the world
Government: Elected government. President Rene Preval inaugurated May 14, 2006.
* Program information is updated on a monthly basis from reports from the field.