Providing food, water, and shelter to the poor without helping them to be creative and independent hurt them more than it helps; they also need to be empowered
Our concept of empowering the poor is pretty simple; show them the way by providing substantial information, materials, and financial resources and they will walk through it and become independent. As we all know poverty is a multi-faceted phenomenon that is defined as a situation in which an individual lacks the necessary opportunities and entitlements to satisfy his or her basic needs on a daily basis and his/her aspirations. From this point of view, we must understand, the fight against poverty must consist of establishing entitlements that will allow those in poverty access to social, financial, and spiritual resources to develop their abilities to become creative and independent.
Therefore, we find it imperative to focus on the empowerment of the poor as the crucial requirement for a sustainable and durable solution to poverty and hunger across the country. Empowerment is defined as the ability of a person, in particular the least privileged, to first have access to productive resources that enable him/her to increase his/her earnings and obtain the goods and services he/she needs, and second: to participate in the development process and the decisions that affect him/her. These two aspects are related, and we believe that one without the other is not successful and sustainable empowerment.
Many believe that poverty and disempowerment go hand-in-hand and we couldn’t agree more. The best way to reduce poverty is to empower those in need, meaning the poor. We always advocate getting people out of poverty in Haiti or in any other developing country will take more than providing food, water, and shelters for them. Although such a practice is crucial to keep many families well and alive. However, there must be a better strategy to help them stand on their own feet, an action plan to get them out of poverty one by one where they no longer need financial assistance or other types of support from anyone. To make this happen it will take people who care enough to teach and assist the poor in becoming self-sufficient.
Giving people food, water, and shelter without helping them to become creative and independent actually hurts them more than it helps, because it encourages them to remain dependent on others. The truth is if people know that there are some other people out there who would take care of them regardless of the situation there won’t be any need for them to work or innovate themselves to become independent and self-sufficient. Why working hard if I can get what I need for free? The truth is there’s no tangible solution to hunger and poverty without providing secure and gainful employment to people, whether on-farm or off-farm (handicraft, trade, fisheries, etc.) or in other areas.
This is why here at Brice Foundation we will start lending money to the poor via an outstanding microcredit system that we are putting in place by the second or third quarter of 2014. This will give the opportunity to the poor to materialize their dreams and ideas to become entrepreneurs. Microcredit by definition is the lending of very small amounts of money at low interest, especially to start-up companies or self-employed individuals.
Microcredit can be seen as a variation on traditional credit service that involves providing small loans to people who would otherwise be unable to secure credit or loans from traditional banks and other financial institutions, typically because of poverty. Our system of microcredit not only is designed to support entrepreneurship and alleviate poverty across the country, but it's also designed to empower women and to uplift entire communities by extension. Microcredit is more about putting our trust in people that if we show them the way out of poverty they will walk through it than making a profit for the poor.
The idea behind the microcredit system is that if you give those who are living in poverty in developing countries access to credit, the ability to borrow money, they will eventually use that money to start or expand businesses which will eventually help them pull themselves out of poverty to a point where they no longer need NGO’s to help them meet their basic need on a daily basis.
The origins of microcredit in its current practical incarnation can be linked to several organizations, but especially to Grameen Bank, founded in Bangladesh. The Grameen Bank, which is generally considered the first modern microcredit institution. It was founded in 1983 by Muhammad Yunus. Muhammad Yunus started the project in a small town called Jobra, using his own money to give a small number of loans at low-interest rates to the rural poor. Grameen Bank was followed by organizations such as BRAC in 1972 and ASA in 1978.
Microcredit reached Latin America with the establishment of PRODEM in Bolivia in 1986; a bank that later transformed into the for-profit BancoSol. Microcredit quickly became a popular tool for economic development, with hundreds of institutions emerging throughout the third world. Microcredit has become a global fad, to the point where all kinds of claims are being made in its name as if it is the latest magic potion to resolve the problems of poverty in the world.
Our microcredit system would focus on three groups of individuals in the Haitian society; young entrepreneurs (those who just get out of college), farmers, and women. As we mentioned before, the purpose of the Brice Foundation is to reduce poverty as much as we can. We don’t believe we will attend our goal by only providing food or shelter on a daily basis to those in need. Other than the food they need people who care enough to lead them out of poverty by providing proper education and resources needed.
The main reason we chose to support young entrepreneurs first is that there are a lot of young professionals out there who graduate from school every year, but unfortunately, they can’t find anything to do because of the economic situation of the country. According to local authorities and other trusted international organizations, less than 20% of the population are employed, and 12% of those who are employed are underpaid while the rest of the population (80%) are living in absolute poverty. We sometimes find it difficult to fully understanding how they make it through.
Individual lending takes place when a person presents a project or an idea to our organization and we found it worth supporting. Since we have a program already established known as “Framing Future Leaders.” What we do through this program is locating children with potential so we can support them financially and socially in order to help them achieve their dreams. So whenever they graduate from college or other professional institutions, we will continue to invest in them by funding their ideas we find deem to support, so they can become self-employed and financially independent.
We believe with that strategy not only we will be able to take the youth out of poverty, but it will also open doors for more jobs opening in the areas where they come from; their villages or communities, which in turn will have a positive impact on the country unemployment rate and its economy. Our philosophy is clear and precise; the more people we are able to get out of poverty less significant our presence in the community will become in term of assisting the poor, which translate into less responsibility on our shoulder.
Lending to Farmers:
Our second group of individuals we plan to support our farmers; it’s been a while since the country’s agricultural system has been destroyed despite numerous efforts made by certain local authorities and some international organizations that’s been working in the country for years. Farmers have given up on working their lands because it is a waste of time due to contrabands, lack of support from local authorities, and financial difficulties they are experiencing. Because agriculture is vital for any country’s economic development we plan on investing in our local farmers by lending them money to boost their agricultural productions.
Lending money to farmers in order to help them boost their productions can be done in two ways; individual lending and group lending. Individual Lending involves supporting each farmer individually by providing financial assistance and other technical assistance needed. In the event some of them can’t qualify due to trust issues or other types of issues, we will consider group lending where multiple farmers can get together and then apply as one group for a specific loan amount which can be redistributed later between them. However, when requesting funds from Brice Foundation as a group, everyone who forms that group has to keep in mind that the whole group will be held responsible for the repayment of the full amount of the money.
Lending To Women:
Other than children, women are the most affected by the country’s socio-economic situation. Women represent more than half of the Haitian population, but since most of them don’t have economic power or financial independence they rely on the husband to take care of them. As a result, they make up to 70 to 75% of those in poverty in Haiti. This is why we believe it is imperative to empower women in order to reduce poverty in Haiti and around the world. It would be foolish and baseless to think about reducing poverty in our society without empowering women. We believe with microcredit system interventions precisely made for women will aim both reducing poverty and contributing to women’s empowerment.
In fact, empowering women should be a concept for every developing country. Empowering women is increasingly seen as an important part of the international development agenda to reduce poverty across the world. But to make this happen, first women need to have access to lands, credit, and all other productive resources that can help them out of poverty. In order words, they need to have access to every resource available to men. Whether it’s for retail or other business purposes, Brice Foundation will strongly support our women base in order to accomplish two important things; first to bring them out of poverty, and second to help them accomplish their economic freedom. To learn more about Empowering Women's program click this link Empowering Women.
Before lending any money to anyone it will be required for everyone to attend financial training in one of our locations in order to educate people about the importance of using the money borrowed wisely. We will also monitor the financial progression of everyone who borrows money from us and provides professional assistance to them throughout the loan term in order to make sure our goal which is to get people out of poverty is being reached. This program is not yet available to the public. However, we are working very hard to make it available to everyone by the second or third quarter of 2014. Once it’s available we will announce it on our website in the event page. A link will be provided which will take the applicant straight to the application form. To Support this Program, click here
Our Concept of Empowering the Poor
Empowering the poor is giving the underprivileged ones access to financial resources and other type of resources such as lands, materials, etc. to help them become economically independent. Empowering the poor is involving the poor to take part in every decision that affects their lives whether at a local or state level. In other words, empowering the poor means let the poor take control of their own lives.
Picture of Haitian Women Merchants going to the Flea Market
Picture of Fruits and Vegetables Grown in the mountains of Kenskoff, Haiti
Picture of Haitian Women Merchants Selling at a Flea Market
Picture of Haitian Women Merchants Selling at a Flea Market in Les Cayes
Picture of Haitian Women Merchants going to the Flea Market