Fonkoze helps the poor of Haiti by providing human, financial and technical resources and raises awareness of Haiti’s needs. Fonkoze works together with its Haitian partners to provide the financial and non-financial tools that Haiti – primarily women – need to lift their families out of poverty. Fonkoze is a shining example of what is right about microfinance. I learned about it from a friend, Marguerite Lathan, who grew up in Haiti. She is committed to developing effective poverty reduction solutions that can be applied globally. I admire the commitment and sacrifice she has made along with all the people who have served with Fonkoze in Haiti for long periods.
In Marguerite’s own words:
Hello Team FONKOZE: We are on our way. Thank you for all that you have done. This has been a great journey… We learned so much about Haiti and about Fonkoze and about women and men who extend so much of themselves…YOU have given so much of your time and support and I could not be more grateful to each of you. You have made my life on our planet a bit more bearable….more loving, more and much more. Merçi.
HAITI is my birth land and I cry every day that it is not like Jamaica, Trinidad, the Bahamas or any other Caribbean nation. Having been the FIRST richest, slave free, BLACK republic with sugar, gold, indigo, cotton, coffee, salt, bauxite, banana plantations… to becoming gradually the poorest nation in the Americas.. I weep. I weep… I remember my mother and father said that the French asked all the countries in the world to boycott HAITI in the 1800’s and they all did… The US, The British, the Portuguese, the Spaniards… HAITI could not trade for a century… for a century….no one would trade with us. Because they would not trade with a freed slave nation… They all had their slaves. So no foreign monies would enrich our new slave free nation’s economy, except Venezuela. So from the 1800’s until the 1900’s we were on our own. We also had to pay monies back to the French… YES billions, simply because we became free… They wanted their investments in the sugar, coffee, banana plantations back. They were angry that they had lost their most valuable Haiti French Colony. Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin were no Haiti. Not in the 1800’s. But we are here, and we are now and you are with us. You are with our Fonkoze…
Thank you, Marguerite
Fonkoze has been a major player in supporting the recovery of the 2010 earthquake and the 2016 Hurricane Matthew that devastated Haiti. Fonkoze is an institution that really works in the midst of much dysfunction throughout the country. Moreover, Fonkoze has been a crucible for innovation to help people who are beyond the reach of normal microfinance operations.
Below are personal success stories of women in Haiti who have been supported by the Fonkoze Foundation.
Hurricane Matthew destroyed everything: her home and business; her garden; and her livestock. Now, in the wake of the storm, Marie-Julienne Laine says that she and her three children sleep anywhere they can find in their community. It has been raining for three straight days, and new floods are threatening her region again—less than three weeks after Matthew left Haiti.
It all would be more bearable if her husband could carry this burden with her, but he was killed in a car accident six years ago, shortly after the 2010 earthquake. At the time, Marie-Julienne’s children were 4, 11, and 14 years old, and she knew that their lives depended on her ability to move forward in the face of tragedy. And so, she turned to Fonkoze. “After the death of my husband,” she says, “Fonkoze became my only partner.”
Back then, she had been a Fonkoze client for almost nine years, and she threw herself into her small business. With advice from her Fonkoze Loan Officer, she did her best to stock products that would bring the most profit. She was able to send her children to school, and she even made enough money to purchase livestock. She planted a garden that not only provided food for her family but produced a surplus that she could often sell in the market.
She became so successful that the other clients in her credit center elected her to become their Center Chief. By virtue of her leadership, she was selected to join the Boutik Sante (Community Health Store) Program in 2015. Boutik Sante trains Fonkoze clients like Marie-Julienne to become Community Health Entrepreneurs. They sell over-the-counter health products and deliver basic screening services in their communities; it is an innovative way of expanding access to health products and services in some of the most rural parts of Haiti.
Now, Marie-Julienne is turning to Fonkoze again, and she knows that her new role as a Community Health Entrepreneur is critical as the country faces a worsening cholera epidemic. “It’s more important than ever for me to continue supplying my neighborhood with water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts in case of an emergency.”
She and other Community Health Entrepreneurs met with Fonkoze nurses to launch the Cholera Awareness and Prevention Campaign. She says, “Those of us who could make it to the branch this morning are all eager to restart our businesses; we don’t want to sit down—not for a second. But we need any help that we can get to rebuild and continue moving forward with our lives.”
A widow who lived on her own, Sonia supported herself by selling biskwit, a bread common in rural Haiti, which is baked in large, rectangular sheets, scored and then separated into little squares to sell. Each day, she would buy a few sheets from a local baker, and then carry them around the neighborhood in a basket on her head. Life seemed to be going well, as she was able to live a productive and self-sufficient life.
Sonia’s life would later take a turn for the worse, however. A few years ago, she suffered a minor stroke, losing much of the use of her right arm and leg. Having no access to physical therapy, she wasn’t able to regain most of the mobility she had lost. As a result of this new physical limitation, she could no longer run the small business she had worked so hard to build.
Unable now to do even the simplest things, her neighbors worried that she could not take care of herself anymore. Sonia was more vulnerable than ever: living in isolation with no viable way to support herself. Even after she was selected by Fonkoze to participate in its CLMD (CLM for persons with disabilities) program, she still wondered if she could really turn her life around for the better. She would soon discover this was truly possible.
As part of the CLMD program, Sonia was asked to choose two enterprises to develop upon joining the program. She chose a pig and small commerce. Using the funds the program provided her, she bought sacks of charcoal from people who walked down the long dirt road that passed by her home. She would then separate the charcoal into small bags and sell them to her neighbors. Her business began to flourish and she would soon earn enough income to allow her to add other products to her business.
When it came time to graduate from the CLMD program, Sonia admitted she was sad because she had gotten used to the CLMD team being there. So it was no surprise to see how thrilled she was when she learned the team would still visit her for six more months to follow-up on her progress.
Through this guided process, Sonia regained the confidence she had lost and discovered a newfound sense of hope and purpose. Thank you for making this possible.
If you are interested in supporting the Fonkoze foundation, below is an easy way to make a contribution at no cost to you:
AMAZON SMILE WILL DONATE TO FONKOZE USA ON YOUR BEHALF
How to Use Amazon Smile
One of the reasons I am sharing this story about Fonkoze USA is you can make a contribution at no cost to you through Amazon. Amazon customers can now elect to donate 0.5% of their purchase to the charity of their choice. This is all made possible by shopping on smile.amazon.com.
If you already shop on Amazon, I invite you to shop at smile.amazon.com and choose Fonkoze USA as your charity of choice. Below you can read about how to use Amazon Smile.
Once you’ve selected your charity, everything else functions the same. Most products are eligible on Amazon Smile–if not, you’ll be notified. You can check out normally as well. No extra cost is passed onto you–Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to Fonkoze USA.
1. Visit smile.amazon.com.
The entire shopping experience is the same and most products available on amazon.com are available at Amazon Smile.
2. Sign in and Choose Fonkoze.
If you’re not signed, enter your email and password as you would normally when signing into Amazon.com. Then proceed to step 3.
3. Select Fonkoze USA
After signing in, search for “Fonkoze” or the charity of your choice.
When you search for a charity, such as “Fonkoze,” you will be given a list of possible matches. Select the charity of your choice to continue.
Once selected, you will receive an email confirmation and you can begin shopping/
4. Begin shopping!
Once you’ve selected your charity everything else functions the same. Most products are eligible on Amazon Smile–if not, you’ll be notified. You can check out normally as well. No extra cost is passed onto you–Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to World of Children Award.
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