Chemen Lavi Miyò (Pathway to A better life)
For most Haitian women, the marketplace is a familiar environment for buying and selling goods. However, for women living in extreme poverty, some basic livelihood factors must be addressed before they have the confidence and ability to engage in the economy successfully.
Haiti’s inequality is not a simple distinction between the rich and the poor, but a large and growing gap between the lives people lead in urban areas and those of its rural population, where 70% of rural households are considered chronically poor.
The CLM (Chemen Lavi Miyò) program, started in 2007 by Fonkoze Foundation (an organization based in Haiti and with whom MEDA partners), is an 18-month program that works intensively with ultra-poor women and their families on a weekly basis to support them to rise out of extreme poverty.
Through one-on-one enterprise and life skills training that emphasizes confidence-building and motivation, as well as asset transfers (such as helping to fix the women’s roofs and floors and giving them the capital to start two small income generating activities) and providing financial services at an affordable cost, the women gain skills and confidence to make decisions about their and their family’s future. This enables them to access education and health services for them and their family members. It also helps them to engage in business activities to sustain their livelihoods and increase their incomes.
In 2015, Fonkoze partnered with MEDA to add an agricultural market-based component to the program. Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Fonkoze and MEDA are working together to reach 500 women and their families over four years. They hope to involve the private sector to increase access to markets for women in the project and to link them to a diverse group of peanut and hot pepper-related market actors.
The women will receive training in agronomic practices to improve the quality of the peanuts and hot peppers they grow, and give them the opportunity to sell their higher-quality produce to better markets that will pay more. MEDA’s role in CLM+ is to build the project team’s understanding of market systems development. This support and training will help the team better facilitate access to services and markets for project beneficiaries.
MEDA is combining training, education in market systems development, and a partnership with a local organization to create a dynamic approach to poverty that positively impacts women in Haiti. MEDA supports Fonkoze as it implements the CLM+ project and supports women to improve their business skills and gain access to markets. This increases their incomes and their ability to better provide for their families.
So far, 53 women have received training in improved farming practices to grow peanuts and hot peppers. The program also has provided irrigation pumps to improve water access and management for these crops. A big challenge has been drought. Crops haven’t grown as well as hoped, but things have already improved and the rains are starting to come.
The project is launching an application process for businesses or entrepreneurs to receive a matching grant. The grants will be a one-to-one match, giving the businesses and entrepreneurs a chance to improve their businesses as they work with project beneficiaries. This will stimulate the market and improve incomes for both CLM members/clients and businesses/entrepreneurs receiving the grant. CLM+ hopes to reach 1,500 women by the end of 2018, and support at least 40 women traders, or “Madames Sarahs,” to improve their businesses and further stimulate the peanut and hot pepper markets.