Microcredit for women living with HIV/AIDS

Reducing the impact of HIV on women and their families by helping them develop an income-generating activity

Type

Mothers & children

Region

Americas

Country

Haïti

Partners

3

Status

In progress

Context

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with the highest prevalence of HIV infection in Latin America and the Caribbean. It can be extremely difficult for Haitian women living with HIV/AIDS to provide for their families, especially when they need a loan to purchase materials or invest in developing a commercial activity to earn income.

Aim

Microcredit is designed to help impoverished individuals borrow small amounts of money to create an income-generating activity and a means of making a living. In Haiti, the non-profit organization ACME (Association pour la Coopération avec la Micro-Entreprise) helps women gain access to microcredit by providing unsecured loans. ACME was founded in 1997 to provide financing solutions to small entrepreneurs with no access to bank credit. Among the different types of loans offered by ACME, one is specifically designed for people living with HIV.

Activities

The Mérieux Foundation began working with ACME in 2005 to establish a microcredit program for women living with HIV/AIDS by offering “MAG” loans. MAG stands for three partners:

  • Mérieux Foundation
  • ACME (Association pour la Coopération avec la Micro-Entreprise)
  • GHESKIO Centers (for the care of people living with HIV/AIDS and related diseases)

The program provides training in addition to microcredit so that borrowers, many of whom are illiterate, will be able to manage their business activity and repay the loan. Around 95% of loans are used to create a commercial activity in services, trade or agricultural production.

Although initially started to help women living with HIV/AIDS, the initiative was subsequently expanded to include other women who consult at the GHESKIO Centers.

With the financial support of Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, the Mérieux Foundation covers the risk of nonrepayment through a credit guarantee fund managed by ACME . It also pays for training costs and the operating costs of the support centers that monitor the program’s beneficiaries. ACME provides business and banking expertise to get projects started and offers guidance for each project for three months.

Results to date

Since 2005, more than 4,500 women have received one or more MAG loans and the program continues to grow and meet with success. Despite hardship and economic difficulties in Haiti, the loan repayment rate is very high (94%).

Along with antiretroviral treatment, microfinancing represents a key instrument to reduce the impact of HIV on populations in resource-limited countries . In addition to allowing beneficiaries to develop the means to earn income and provide for their families, this program seems to have the added effect of helping them adhere to their HIV treatment regimens.

What’s next?

Continued support from Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux to ACME and GHESKIO represents nearly €100,000 annually (around 60% going to GHESKIO and 40% to ACME) to fund micro-credit training and income-generating activities for women living with HIV.

“MAG” loans 2018 in figures

  • 1,439 borrowers
  • 16,000 borrowers since the project began
  • €171: amount of average loan (17,800 Haitian gourdes)
  • 7 months: average duration of loans
  • €94,000 in funding from Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux to guarantee loans
  • 94% repayment rate 

Partners

Operational:

  • ACME (Association pour la Coopération avec la Micro-Entreprise)
  • GHESKIO Centers (Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections)

Financial:

  • Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux

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