|Microcredit Fund: Youth Organization of Sica
Lambi Fund of Haiti
Supporting economic justice, democracy and sustainable development in Haiti
When and why it was formed. The Lambi Fund of Haiti was founded in 1994 by Haitians, Haitian-Americans, and North Americans. The Lambi Fund draws its name from the lambi (pronounced lahm-bee), the Haitian Creole word for conch shell, which was blown as a horn and used during the slave rebellion against the French colonialists in 1791, to alert the slaves to impending danger and the need to assemble. The symbol of the lambi was chosen to represent the Haitian people’s hope, strength, resistance, and struggle for self-determination.
Accomplishments. In 2004, with support from the Lambi Fund, 24 rural development projects were carried out by Haiti’s popular organizations. Nine new projects were initiated in 2004, including community cistern systems, sugar cane mills, community farms, and micro lending projects, among others. Eighteen small-scale economic development projects became self-supporting in 2004, including grain mills, ox plowing services and pig raising projects. Over the past ten years, Lambi has supported over 100 peasant led projects, reaching over one million Haitians.
Proven Outcomes. According to a recently conducted evaluation of our first ten years of work, studies showed that Lambi Fund projects involved 76,896 entrepreneurial participants whose collective enterprises impacted 1,222,145 Haitians! Researchers found well-documented evidence that Lambi Fund projects create change with: improved economic conditions, increased availability of food, reduced soil erosion, improved environment, increased availability of potable water, increased gender equity, improved democratic functioning, increased management capacity of organizations, and increased collaboration among grassroots organizations. A copy of the Executive Summary of the Ten Year can be found on our website at http://www.lambifund.org/content/10_yr_evaluation.pdf
Mission. The Lambi Fund's mission is to assist the popular, democratic movement in Haiti. Its goal is to help strengthen civil society as a necessary foundation of democracy and development. The fund channels financial and other resources to community based organizations that promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people.
Target Population: Peasant-led community based organizations in rural Haiti.
Current Activities. The Lambi Fund is currently supporting 22 projects, concentrating on the following Program Initiatives:
Sustainable Development – Sustainable agricultural projects, bakeries, and grain mills help increase food security and income for peasant families. Many of these projects benefit women, who bear more of the burden in the agricultural economy.
Community Micro-credit – Members of a community organization band together to form collective micro-enterprise funds to provide one another with much needed capital to start self-sustaining collective economic development projects.
Environment – The conservation of Haiti’s waning natural resources is central to all Lambi Fund projects. Community cisterns and irrigation systems help communities secure safe and efficient water supplies while community reforestation projects curb deforestation – the most rapid in the Western Hemisphere.
Organizational and Leadership Training - Alongside our routine technical and management training programs, Lambi Fund provides organizational and leadership development training programs for peasant organizations and women’s associations.
Number of staff and brief biography of key leader(s)
Two US staff members and 10 Haiti staff members. Key program staff:
Haiti Director: Ms. Josette Perard was born and raised in Haiti, trained as a social worker and lived in Zaire for several years while working with women's organizations. While living in New York City, she earned certificates in bookkeeping and administration. She returned to Haiti in 1986 and has been active with women's groups, and has hosted many delegations of U.S. solidarity activists visiting Haiti. As a founding staff member, she has directed Lambi Fund’s program for over ten years. She is one of the few women that heads a successful NGO in Haiti.
Field Director: Mr. Ferry Pierre-Charles, born and raised in Haiti, is a trained agronomist and community organizer with ten years of experience working with Haitian peasants in the field to develop and implement community-based agricultural projects and to conduct trainings. He has worked for several indigenous development organizations and has conducted research in the field on appropriate agricultural technology. He also has computer training in a variety of programs.
Assistant Field Director: Mr. Paul Rodney Henry joined the Lambi Fund field staff in 1996 as an agronomist with a specialty in plant technologies. He has over seven years of experience in rural Haiti working directly with peasant cultivators, training them in improved rice and banana production, and has considerable practice with soil conservation. He has collaborated with several Haitian NGOs, including ITECA and FONDEV, in many of Haiti's nine geographic departments.
Information on the community served
Extreme Poverty. Haiti is one of the 25 least developed countries in the world according to the UN’s Human Development Index. One of only two non-African countries on the list, Haiti suffers from many of the same conditions that plague African nations: most of the population lives on less than $1 a day, high infant mortality rate, high illiteracy rate, extreme malnourishment, economic vulnerability based on instability of agricultural production, and civil conflict/violence.
How is the community involved in implementing or evaluating the programs, or in giving input to the organization?
The Lambi Fund takes its lead from the peasant and women’s organizations that we serve. The Lambi Fund is based on the premise that the Haitian people understand how development is best achieved in their country; therefore, the Lambi Fund follows the lead of grassroots organizations in program and priorities. The Lambi Fund never dictates to a community organization what should be done. Through discussion and reflection the peasants decide what is best for their community and present the project to the Lambi Fund for support. In addition, the majority of Lambi Fund’s board of directors is Haitian American and the entire advisory board (local grant making committee) is Haitian.
Program or project for which support is requested
Asosyasyon Jenn Sica (AJS) –English translation: Youth Association of Sica. AJS was founded in September 1990 after much reflection on the part of people from the community, particularly young people. They were concentrating on the need to use local resources to develop the area economically. Currently AJS has 142 members, 98 of whom are active. Women are very active within the association and make up 36% of the membership.
Problem project aims to resolve:
The majority of AJS members face great difficulties in investing in economic activities. Many young people remain without work. Commercial sales of agricultural products have decreased considerably because women in particular have to travel long distances to buy wholesale products. Commerce has become too difficult due to the increase in transportation costs. For these reasons, the association began to search for funding to under gird the economic activities of the young members. The group asked the Lambi Fund for a micro-credit fund that would seed small business enterprises for its members.
What are the key activities?
The group needs at least $3,000 US to seed the micro-credit fund. The association is going to use this money to loan to members at an interest rate of 2% each month. The money will be used to provide credit for them to farm small plots of land (agriculture is the primary economy here) or to help women to purchase goods to start small market enterprises. The association will use this money to help 50 of the members. The loans will be for six months, that is, during the course of a year, two groups of 50 people each will benefit from the loans.
The association has put into place many committees to manage the activity (management committee, credit committee, oversight and supervision committee). These committees will also verify that the lenders use the money for the purposes laid out in the loan requests. The project will finance a management training program which will cover basic bookkeeping to help the various committees do their work well.
If the program is successful, what will have been achieved?
Small business enterprises will have been started by the members.
What will happen if the program is not implemented?
There will be further economic decline in the area and the youth will remain unemployed.
Amount needed for the project
Seed micro-credit fund $3,000
GGF fees $700
Lambi Fund of Haiti page