Our microsavings program is designed to help motivated individuals with limited financial resources acquire the tools to invest in the future—while avoiding the pitfalls of conventional microcredit loans. Instead of borrowing money, our participants save a small amount each month toward a specific investment goal intended to improve their long-term wellbeing. They might be saving to start a small business, pay school fees for a child, or purchase building materials for a home. What they save is theirs to keep and invest how they choose. They never take on debt or pay interest on a loan.
To help our participants reach their goals, we pair savers in Haiti with donors in the United States who want to save with them. By providing 1:1 matching funds, our donors substantially increase the savings that participants in Haiti can generate on their own, creating added value and incentive to save.
On average, our participants save between $4 and $12 per month, generating anywhere from $100 to $150 of investment capital over the course of the 6-12 month program. This may not seem like a lot, but for individuals earning less than $2 a day, it is a significant sum. And the scale of the program allows participants and donors to form a true partnership—as equal contributors in the savings process.
Like many Haitians, our participants have no access to conventional banking or financial services. That makes it difficult to save and plan ahead. Without a secure way to store and transmit funds, the safest thing to do with a small amount of cash is to spend it quickly—before it can be lost or stolen. Known by economists as the “unbanked,” they lack the basic financial tools to invest in the future, prepare for an emergency, or even navigate daily fluctuations in income and expenses.
To address this need, our program utilizes an innovative mobile banking system developed through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With a simple mobile phone—accessible to virtually all Haitians—users can deposit savings and make banking transactions electronically. By registering our participants for mobile bank accounts and using the system for all program-related transactions, we are introducing our savers to a secure, convenient and cost-effective banking alternative—which they can keep and use for as long as they want.
To ensure that our participants are equipped to manage their finances and invest their savings effectively, we offer a series of educational workshops on basic financial literacy, budgeting and saving, entrepreneurship and business development. The sessions are organized by Haitian professionals with academic training and practical experience in business and finance. As part of the curriculum, participants develop personal budgets and savings strategies, conduct a community assessment to identify business opportunities in their neighborhood, and generate draft business and investment plans—so when their savings mature, they are prepared to make the most of the opportunity.
We call our program Avanse Ansanm, Haitian kreyol for "Advancing Together." Smarter than a loan, and more empowering than a grant or a gift, our microsavings program is an investment partnership between savers and donors with the potential to make a lasting impact.