Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

Naomi Jean runs around like a typical 5-year-old. Her chocolate-colored eyes reveal a bright mind, curious about everything she sees. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago she was lying in a hospital bed in critical condition.

Faced with rapid growth and the limited availability of qualified human resources, Haiti’s microfinance industry needed access to sustainable microfinance training services.

With USAID support, the National Association of Microfinance Institutions in Haiti launched a new training center, marking a major milestone for the country’s microfinance sector. The association works to improve the professionalism of its 17 microfinance institution members, which provide financial services to microentrepreneurs not served by traditional financial institutions.

Twenty-year-old Jefferson St. Louis from Carrefour-Feuilles, one of Port-au-Prince’s largest slums, comes from a family of six. Poverty forced Jefferson to drop out of school before age 10. Like most Haitian youth, he wanted an opportunity to learn a skill and provide for his family.

The poor quality of education and a lack of finances to pay school fees have left an estimated 500,000 youth out of school and on the streets in Haiti. Most have never attended primary school or have dropped out before grade three.

Sogesol (Société Générale de Solidarité, French for “General Society of Solidarity”) inaugurated a full-service microfinance branch in the heart of Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s most volatile neighborhoods that has served as the base for much of Haiti’s destabilizing gang activity. Years of violence and crime have driven many businesses out of the neighborhood. With support from USAID, Sogesol is reigniting economic activity in this highly vulnerable zone.

Imagine a childhood spent growing up among gangsters: a child obliged to take shelter under chairs in a classroom while waiting for the end of shootings, or a teenager confronted with other people’s fear solely because he happens to live in a high-risk neighborhood. Such is the life for youth in Haiti’s Cité Soleil, one of the largest slums of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where violence is the standard.

While working towards his degree in finance from Haiti’s Quisqueya University, Makendy Pierre participated in a USAID-sponsored internship in microfinance. Since his internship and graduation, he has become the director of a branch of Fonkoze, one of the country’s largest and most innovative microfinance institutions, in the rural, mountain town of Trouin.

Coffee grower Estiverne Michel-Ange, a client of a rural savings and credit cooperative, has seen the benefits of USAID’s support to the cooperative to design loan products for coffee producers in Haiti’s Department of Centre.

In Haiti, where there is significant unmet demand for financial services in rural areas, USAID-supported technology is beginning to expand outreach, improve the quality and diversity of financial services available to rural people, and increase the financial flow between towns and rural areas.

In Port-au-Prince’s Fort National neighborhood, the January 12, 2010, earthquake destroyed all six health clinics, severely damaged 78 percent of schools, and left an estimated 80 percent of residences structurally unsafe for habitation. Yet, the area had not received relief services until USAID implementing partner Project Concern International (PCI) began providing assistance.

With USAID support, PCI worked with the community to establish programs in emergency shelter, cash-forwork, protection, health, risk management, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.

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Last updated: August 27, 2014