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Haiti’s Network of Financial cooperatives: Helping to Rebuild

Ruins of a Le Levier financial cooperative in Port-au-Prince. © Fédération Le Levier
The earthquake of January 12, 2010, destroyed three of Le Levier's nine cooperatives and service outlets in and around Port-au-Prince and damaged several others.Le Levier is Haiti's first national federation of financial cooperatives, supplying savings and credit services throughout the country, including the remote rural areas overlooked by commercial banks.

The Fédération des caisses populaires haïtiennes Le Levier, with 50 cooperatives and 23 service outlets throughout Haiti, suffered significant losses as a result of the earthquake on January 12, 2010. The earthquake destroyed three of the nine cooperatives in the affected area of Port-au-Prince and damaged several others.

However, activities have quickly resumed. Most employees including several who had been seriously affected or even injured did not hesitate to return to work shortly after the earthquake.

By January 27, some 47 of the 50 cooperatives were able to serve their members. Work is underway to get the three destroyed cooperatives in Port-au-Prince up and running again. Their members are temporarily being served from another location.

A spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance reigns among the staff of the Le Levier federation. Their salaries have been paid. The cooperatives are helping each other. For example, they are transferring liquid assets among themselves, or allowing members of a collapsed cooperative to use another's services. In areas not hit by the earthquake, cooperatives are giving priority to helping people in outlying regions.

The federation's employees are enabling humanitarian assistance within their community, responding to the urgent need to help fellow Haitians to gain access to funds to obtain food, water, or fuel. It is also necessary to protect their savings and continue to help them to rebuild their lives.

Haiti's first Fédération des caisses populaires was founded in 2008. The network now has 340,000 members throughout Haiti and directly benefits over a million people. Forty percent of cooperative members are women.

For CIDA and Développement international Desjardins (DID), located in Lévis, Quebec, the network marks a decade of cooperation with the people of Haiti. CIDA and DID have pledged $15 million over ten years (2005-2015) to the Support to Haitian Savings and Credit Cooperatives project.