As you probably know, hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid has flooded Haiti for decades, trying to alleviate extreme poverty and economic problems. All of this assistance has not resolved the problem, often leaving people more dependent and no better off. It is clear that something different needs to be attempted. Haitians are wonderful, hard-working people who need a Hand Up not a Hand Out. However, seed capital, which is needed to start a micro business, is not readily available. It is not available because financial institutions want to safeguard their capital, and people in the lowest economic strata don’t have any collateral to offer for a loan.
I’m excited to announce that Men for Missions is partnering in the exciting process of establishing a revolving loan fund in Cap Haitien, Haiti, that will offer small micro-loans to people so that they can provide for their families. This process, called Men Leve Micro Credit, is not a gift or donation, but rather a loan they will pay back. As they repay their loans, the funds will return to the revolving loan fund, allowing others to be blessed by a Hand Up loan.
Just as Jesus reached out to Peter to give him a Hand Up when he started sinking in the water, we want to financially give the Haitian people a "Hand Up." Men Leve was launched on the first of April with 22 people getting loans for a total of $2700. In May, Rick and Lori Gerig and I went to Cap Haitien to meet with Claudia Charlot, the Executive Director of Men Leve. While we were in Cap Haitien, we went to one of the repayment/training meetings where the clients made payments on their loans. In these meetings, Claudia provided training and collected payments on the loans. The gratitude was evident throughout the room. During one of the meetings, we met Samson whose smile would light up a room when he worked his little cellular phone kiosk. We also met Jaxilien Monpremier and his family and saw the grocery-type products he is selling from the front of his house. These are small beginnings, but these examples reflect the significant efforts being made in helping people improve their economic situation.
Every two weeks there are repayment meetings, which allows a client to pay off their loan in three to six months. At these meetings, Claudia gives them business training and shares suggestions, encouragement, and the Gospel message. We feel this is the way to help people help themselves. We are planning to help an additional 25 people, and we hope to have over $5000 invested in giving people the opportunity to work a small business. The average cost of each loan is approximately $150.
The goal is to continue to help more people as funding is available in the coming months.
By God's grace, we will continue to give the Haitians a Hand Up.