Co-op services help members get ahead in Haiti

Co-op services help members get ahead in Haiti

Members of farmer cooperatives in FRB’s Haiti-Northwest program spoke with recent FRB visitors about how much the program’s co-ops mean in their lives:

Delisia remembers breaking down in tears when her children were kicked out of school for non-payment of fees.  She felt she would have to choose between her children’s education and her livestock. It was a difficult situation. She had livestock, but they weren't ready for market and would fetch a low price if she was forced to sell them. The sale would cover school fees but she wouldn't have any money left over to purchase new animals for fattening. Thankfully, Delisia was a member of a co-op and had another option.  She was able to receive a small loan, enough to cover the fees and give her the time she needed to fatten the livestock so they would be worth more at market.  After six months she was able to repay the loan with interest and still had enough left over to replenish her herd.

Beaubrun has six children. When her husband died, she really wasn’t sure how she would be able to provide for her family.  With a loan from her co-op, she decided to purchase flour in bulk, and then sell it at market in smaller quantities.  She is able to earn enough to keep her children fed and in school, and is paying off the loan little by little.

The services the co-ops provide include agricultural and business loans, stores that purchase building supplies and foodstuffs in bulk and sell them at a reduced price to members, a community bakery, a community veterinarian, and reforestation projects. More co-op members now have better roofs to keep them dry during storms. Members are able to save for emergencies, saying they can now “eat for today and have food for tomorrow.” The co-ops have made school more affordable by breaking fees into more manageable pieces.  They were even able to train and help start a new co-op in another community.

The president of one co-op explained that they first formed with just a few members, but were able to grow and expand support to the community thanks to the training they received from the program. The training “showed us how to work together, how to have good relations with each other, how to love our neighbors. We learned that if there is trust we can rely on each other.”When asked about the sustainability of the co-op one member replied, “We know we can advance on our own with our own richness.  We won’t perish.” Another said, "If I am alive today it is because of the co-op, and if we are alive there is hope.” 

The Haiti-Northwest program encompasses 4 communities, 4000 households and 20,000 individuals.

01/03/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment