Three metal boxes painted green, red and blue rest in the laps of three farmers from the rural community of Marchand Dessaline, Haiti, during a caisse communautaire, or community credit union, meeting. Secured with lock and key and entrusted to cashiers, the boxes comprise a system of savings and loans adopted by a growing number of area residents, and signify a new generation of economic opportunities for very low-income populations.
The growth of small businesses is essential for Haiti’s economic development, but few financial services exist to help connect them with needed credit, preventing many would-be business owners from ever realizing their aspirations.
Serge Jean Baptiste, a civil engineer student and mechanical technician, established his metal works business in 2003 to fabricate iron gates and roof frames for houses. He first entered the cooking technology business by making covers for the “Bip Ti Cherie,” a small gas camping stove. He then transitioned to making kerosene stoves, and finally started to manufacture propane stoves.
In Haiti, roads in rural communities are often damaged by floods and lack of maintenance, affecting people’s well-being and livelihoods. USAID is currently upgrading up to 126 kilometers of roads in northern Haiti, where many households earn a living from agriculture, in addition to over 100 kilometers of roads in the Cul de Sac area, near Port-au-Prince.
Last updated: September 25, 2015