I had a wonderful time in Haiti, despite the major challenges the country faces. The people, culture, music, art, food and colors kept me fascinated the short time I was there. Kiva will soon be working in Haiti with the amazing help of Esperanza/Hope International! I was given the opportunity to see micro finance in action, and I was impressed.
We visited two communities that have received Esperanza micro loans. It was interesting to see how each entrepreneur had such a niche market. For example, one gentleman we talked to bought phone cards and then resold them at major intersections and by walking around. Another woman travels to a larger market and buy fruits and vegetables to resell, one gentleman bought cooking oil by the barrels and then resold it in smaller quantities. All three currently successful businesses in Haiti. I also saw people selling charcoal, refilling disposable lighters to resell, little stands with umbrellas that have satellite phones you can pay to use (see picture).
Haiti´s theme is: If you are to survive, you must have your niche business.
I was blown away by the lack of running water, mounds of trash everywhere, UN Peace Keeper tanks rolling down the street (see picture), muddy roads, raw sewage, standing water, and complete lack of electricity. Even more surprising yet is this exists in Trau Du Nord- Haiti´s second largest city!
Haiti has major obstacles to overcome, but I wholeheartedly believe that micro finance creates an opportunity in which the Haitians themselves can improve their livelihood. I would never discourage any aid, help or assistance that Haiti receives, but there is something liberating, inspiring, and humbling to see that if just given the chance Haitians can do it themselves.
-Ashley Nelsen KF 6/7