The Haiti Earthquake: How microfinance is helping

Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) - At 16:53 on January 12 a massive earthquake hit Haiti and dealt a tragic blow to an already struggling country. It is estimated that over 100,000 people are dead. Many more are injured and access to medical care remains woefully inadequate. Huge areas of the nation’s capital and several adjacent cities lie in ruins. Up to one million people have been displaced–many of them forced to live in the street, injured, sick, and with little food or water.

Today, getting emergency aid to the citizens of this devastated nation is the highest priority. Despite a global outpouring of support, rescue and relief efforts have been hampered by the logistical obstacles of damaged air and seaports, destroyed hospitals, and an overall lack of functioning infrastructure. The help of any and all development organizations with local presence is desperately needed.

With so many basic needs still not met, it may be premature to think of the role of microfinance institutions (MFIs). Or, is it?

Devasted but not defeated… MFIs emerge as strong institutions

In Haiti, like elsewhere, MFIs are involved in providing much-needed assistance simply because they are resilient, strong institutions that find ways to continue operations against all odds. Leading MFIs in Haiti have gained the trust of the local community, and their actions over the past couple of weeks demonstrate a keen awareness of their role—and responsibilities—as part of the community.

Taking care of their staff first. In a first instance, often the very next day after the earthquake, several MFI managers went into action to find out how their staff were affected. The assessment of employees was quick, thorough, and caring. Fonkoze lost 5 of their 50 staff. Sogesol (in French) reports that the majority of their 189 staff members are in good health, though one has died, three are missing, and five are not yet functional. Read the complete article on the CGAP website.

Read and Download MABS Disaster Preparedness and Management Tips and Kit