Microfinance in Haiti Helps Families Send Kids to School
Going to school isn’t a birthright in Haiti. Parents must pay up-front for their children to attend school, and if they cannot pay all the fees, their children instead stay home or roam the streets. Even families with sufficient income can have trouble raising the lump sum needed to enroll.
As a result, school attendance is unacceptably low in Haiti. Half of Haiti’s children were not attending primary school from 2000 to 2006, according to UNICEF. Many go to school off and on throughout their youth—when their parents can afford to pay—and fall behind in their studies, repeating grades and paying another round of school fees to do so.
In Haiti, it is not unusual to see teenagers learning alongside 8-year-olds, or for young people to go to school for 15 years to earn a sixth-grade education.
Célestin Destin struggled for years to pay his two daughters’ schools fees, but not anymore. This year he borrowed 11,200 gourdes (roughly $300) from a local caisses populaires, or credit cooperative, to pay for his daughters’ tuition, uniforms, books, and school supplies. Thousands more parents across Haiti took advantage of the same opportunity.
Microfinance pilot program scaled up
Destin’s loan is part of a microfinance program in Haiti developed by DAI. The pilot was tested for three years and included four caisses populaires that financed 1,763 students at 30 schools. The program was especially successful at targeting female students—51 percent were girls—who are often the last to be sent to school and the first to drop out.
Nationwide replication of the education credit program speaks to its enormous success. DAI’s project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as long-time collaborator Développement International Desjardins (DID), and another major donor, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), structured agreements with the Haitian Minister of Education to support the loan program, called Crédit Ecolage, in 35 caisses populaires throughout Haiti.
Lenders reported high loan repayment rates and improved school attendance. The microfinance institutions found that the education loan products helped them to expand their client bases and improve client satisfaction.
Other results include:
- Microfinance lenders reported high loan repayment rates and improved school attendance. The microfinance institutions found that the education loan products helped them to expand their client bases and improve client satisfaction.
- Loan repayments are expected to continue improving as the caisses populaires gain experience in marketing the program, developing credit criteria, and managing debt delinquency.
- Partner schools recognize the importance of offering a better education and improving their monitoring and management skills.