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$4.5 million grant from The MasterCard Foundation will rebuild the country's largest microfinance institution and enable its clients to participate in the local economy
Submitted by: Fonkoze USA
Posted: Apr 20, 2010 – 10:02 AM EST
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Apr. 20 /CSRwire/ - /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fonkoze today announced a partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) to spur economic recovery in Haiti. The $4.5 million from the foundation will restore Fonkoze's destroyed headquarters and enable its poorest clients to build new livelihoods. Overall, this program will benefit 70,000 clients.
Note: Visit http://www.youtube.com/user/MasterCardFoundation to view and embed a video about the impact of this partnership on Haiti's economic recovery.
The largest microfinance institution in the country, Fonkoze serves more than 200,000 borrowers and savers, the majority of whom are impoverished women living in rural areas. These clients depend on Fonkoze for financial services ranging from small business loans to savings accounts, and for complementary educational and health services.
Following the earthquake, Fonkoze lost five employees. A third of its employees were left homeless and more than half of its branches were damaged or destroyed, including the institution's headquarters. Nearly 8,000 clients lost their homes, businesses or both. The support from The MasterCard Foundation will strengthen Fonkoze's core operations. It will also expand two existing programs that will help 5,000 women create new livelihoods in two areas that have been greatly stressed by economic and social pressures due to the exodus of refugees from Port-au-Prince.
"The MasterCard Foundation's timely contribution will help Fonkoze emerge from this tragedy as a stronger organization," said Anne Hastings, CEO of Fonkoze. "We now have the flexibility to provide clients with needed services, which will empower them to sustain their livelihoods well into the future."
The program will provide enterprise training, a livelihood asset such as a goat or chicken, a small short-term stipend and one-on-one mentoring to 1,000 extremely poor women. Another 4,000 women will qualify for the small loans and associated counseling needed to create or rebuild small businesses. Commercial and agricultural endeavors such as these are the backbone of Haiti's supply chain, delivering food and goods between rural areas and cities. Restoring the businesses of women traders is, therefore, critical to the country's long-term recovery.
"Fonkoze has a proven track record of serving Haiti's rural poor," said Reeta Roy, president and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "We are investing in an institution that is vital to rebuilding Haiti from the ground up."
To supplement this work, Fonkoze is testing a catastrophic microinsurance product, which will provide clients indemnity for basic needs, loan repayment and new, interest-bearing loans to restart their businesses. This product reflects Fonkoze's belief that clients must be educated and prepared to protect themselves against future disasters and economic shocks.
MEDA, a longtime partner of Fonkoze, will manage the funding from The MasterCard Foundation and provide ongoing progress reports and select advisory services. Fonkoze will concurrently track the quantitative and qualitative success of its clients by measuring their ability to acquire new skills and assets, and improvements to their health, sanitation and food security.
Fonkoze is Haiti's largest microfinance organization with a mission to build the economic foundation for democracy in Haiti by providing the rural poor - mostly women - with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Fonkoze is national in scope with more than 40 branches throughout Haiti offering a full range of financial services to the rural-based poor, currently reaching more than 225,000 savers and borrowers. To learn more about Fonkoze, visit www.fonkoze.org.
Founded in 1953, MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is headquartered in Waterloo, Canada, and has pioneered business solutions to the eradication of poverty in more than 45 developing countries. MEDA's innovative program range provides microfinance services for the poor, access to markets for small producers, and technical services to promote investment in businesses and institutions that serve the poor. In 2009, MEDA served more than 2.8 million families in collaboration with 127 organizations worldwide. For more information, go to www.meda.org.
About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation believes that every person has the potential to transform their lives, and to improve the lives of their families and their communities. By increasing access to microfinance and youth education for people in developing countries, the foundation is enabling them to realize their potential and lift themselves out of poverty. The foundation's vision is to make the economy work for everyone. It is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, with assets totaling $3 billion. It was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. For more information, see www.themastercardfoundation.org.
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