What is micro-credit?
In 1976, the economist Muhammad Yunus set up the first micro-credit institution, the Grameen Bank or 'village banking group'. Normal banks refuse to lend to the very poor, but not the Grameen Bank, as its founder explains: "These people are given access to small amounts of capital, repayable at very low rates over a longer period".
These micro-credits allow a family to buy a hen for example, whose eggs become a source of revenue.
The success of Muhammad Yunus' project is undisputed: the repayment rate is over 98% and his model has been used throughout the world, and not only in developing countries. Currently, micro-credit is offered to more than fifty five million families.
In developing countries, the people most affected by infectious diseases are often the most underprivileged. Thanks to the Global Fund’s support of the GHESKIO Centres, AIDS patients in Haiti now have access to screening and antiretroviral (ARV) treatments.
Most of these patients however, remain in extremely precarious situations, with no economic resources, suffering from malnutrition and it is impossible for them to provide for their family needs. With little hope, these people are morally disheartened and do not adhere to their treatment properly.
Loans to patients
Since 2004, Fondation Mérieux and GHESKIO have been working in partnership with ACME to support its patients in Haiti.
This organization helps small entrepreneurs with no access to bank credit to develop their businesses by providing them with unsecured loans. By financing the ACME association, Fondation Mérieux is making micro-credits accessible to Haitian women with AIDS or to those where a family member is infected with this disease. They are selected from those people who come to the GHESKIO center for treatment.
This initiative is having a great impact. Most of the women that Fondation Mérieux is helping to create commercial activity and earn money have found a certain standard of life that enables them to buy food or even send their children to a paying school. In addition to this, they also adhere to their medication better. 90% of credits are repaid in less than 6 months.
Since 2005, two hundred of them living in Port Au Prince have already been able to benefit from this type of loan. The foundation wants to extend the ACME action throughout Haiti and to have more than 1,000 people in its program by 2008.