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Among the diverse range of programs that we offer to increase the sustainability of rural communities, the Microfinance Program, Asosyasyon Fon Pam, has created the most success for our beneficiaries. Though the specific purpose of this program is to supply our community with capital for small businesses, we offer a range of additional services that supplement the need for cash. These services include a Literacy Program, Small Business Training, an English Course, and a Women’s Empowerment Group. In this way, we help not only the individual’s business, but we also meet the needs of other areas in their life, allowing them to pass this knowledge to their children.
With the community’s long-term well-being in mind, the loan program exists in order to assist new and existing small business owners in their frequent need for capital in order to grow their businesses. These loans prove necessary not only to keep these entrepreneurs functioning, but also to increase their chances of self-sustainability.
Our borrowers are typically women of all ages who have an existing small business, which can range from selling small amounts of food goods in the marketplace to owning their own boutique. These loans can be used as an injection of capital in order to meet every day needs, or they can be used as an opportunity to expand the range or amount of products being sold in the business.
A potential borrower must own an existing business. Site visits by HAC-Haiti’s Microfinance Officers confirm that the business not only exists, but that it is a profitable endeavor. Relatives and friends of the potential borrower are asked to be witnesses when the time for loan application comes. These additional signatures promote group ownership in the business as well as accountability in loan repayment. If the loan exceeds a certain amount, documentation is required from the borrower that indicates either business or real estate ownership as collateral. If documentation cannot be provided, a valid co-signer must be provided in order for the loan to be approved and funded.
In addition, all potential borrowers are required to attend a two-day seminar in Small Business Training, which provides them with the much-needed knowledge on how to track and delegate income and expenses, as well as best practices for small business owners. These women are usually participants in our Women’s Empowerment group, which allows them to express ideas and concerns, and increase knowledge in areas ranging from physical health to women’s rights. We also teach many of them how to read in our Literacy Program, empowering them to be more knowledgeable and better competitors in the global marketplace.
For more information on the microfinance program and how you can get involved click here.