Fondation Merieux

A family foundation dedicated to fighting infectious diseases

Microcredit activity in Haiti

4 June 2009, Port au Price (Haiti)

Haiti is the poorest country on the American continent. It is also the Caribbean nation where HIV prevalence is the highest: 2.2% of the adults carry the virus.

Microcredit activity in Haiti

For 2007, the number of people living with HIV / AIDS is estimated at 109,116 for adults and 5,888 for children. Feminisation of the epidemic is increasing: in 2006, the ratio was estimated at 115 women to 100 men.

In 2005, GHESKIO, a centre for the care of people living with HIV / AIDS; ACME, Association for Cooperation with Micro Enterprise; and Fondation Mérieux launched a microcredit programme to help women living with HIV / AIDS. The programme was subsequently extended to vulnerable women who had consulted at GHESKIO.

The period from March 2005 to December 2007 was the subject of a study (Deschamps et al., 2008). It covered 420 women, of which 240 (57%) were living with HIV including 113 women receiving antiretroviral therapy.

In 2006, an impact assessment of the programme among the first 66 women benefiting from a loan showed better living conditions compared to a control group of 30 women with similar initial medical and socioeconomic status but no loan.

By mid-2008, 1061 women were the beneficiaries of 1538 loans totalling 11,373 000 gourdes, i.e. approximately 216 000. Of these, 247 received several loans (up to seven loans to date). Although the women are very poorly educated and live in arduous economic circumstances, the loan repayment records are excellent – around 94% as of mid 2008. There is no difference between HIV-negative women and those living with HIV.

Combined with antiretroviral treatment (in many developing countries available for free via programs of the Global Fund, UNITAID or others), micro-financing is certainly one of the major instruments for reducing the impact of HIV on the infected populations in countries with limited resources. This programme in Haiti is a demonstration of the feasibility of microcredit in a difficult environment. The great professionalism of the institutions implementing the programme is a key factor in its success.

Planed developments

Thanks to the success of this pilot project, the initiatives of the Fondation Mérieux are now to be expanded to other geographical regions, notably to Sub-Saharan Africa (Mali, Burkina-Faso, Senegal).

The number of beneficiaries of micro loans is expected to rise to 4,000 by 2012.

Access to microcredit for women living with, or vulnerable to, HIV in Haiti297 kb pdf

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