[Port-au-Prince, Haiti] – On September 15, the development community commemorated International Democracy Day, and we believe it is not possible for Haiti or any country to rise to its full potential without locally-led governance. Since 2015, USAID Haiti’s Democracy and Governance Konbit project, which in Creole means teamwork and coming together for a common goal, strengthens local organizations’ capacity to take the lead in Haiti’s development. Konbit, through women-led grantee GECA, has expanded inclusive financial services to as many as 400,000 potential customers at 55 credit unions.
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison noted, “Konbit’s work with local civil society organizations and the private sector to build capacity in technical areas such as financial transparency, governance, agriculture, health, environment, gender inclusion, and service provision has been outstanding. Konbit’s grants program created so many opportunities for Haitian businesses to build a thriving community of service providers and support innovative solutions by local entrepreneurs”.
In 2018, GECA (Management, Study, Accounting, Audit), a women-owned financial services consulting company, won a competitive Konbit Innovative Grant to develop and test its “FIDUTEK” platform service and web application. Through FIDUTEK, GECA and partners have collectively modernized credit union systems and provided a secure network to their clients. This venture has improved the efficiency of microfinance cooperatives and credit unions as financial information is collected, processed, and disseminated more quickly.
This is a first in Haiti, and these credit unions can now offer their clients the same services as a bank – SMS/mobile banking and real time access to their accounts, which increase financial inclusion and transparency. Initially targeted to host two credit unions, due to high demand 55 credit unions are now part of the GECA-FIDUTEK information technology platform service. This provides online and mobile banking to its members representing over 400,000 potential new customers. GECA’s CEO, Johann Bounouni, believes, “As our platform continues to grow and expand its services, members’ perception of money also changes. Increased access to financing means increased financial literacy, and members understand that money is a tool to grow their business, to obtain stability, and feed and provide comfort to their families.”
Earlier this year, GECA was chosen as one of the first four Transaction Advisory Partners in the Haiti INVEST initiative, led by USAID, to promote investment in Haiti through small- and mid-sized enterprises. To date, Konbit’s Capacity Development and Innovation grants have been awarded to 18 local Haitian civil society organizations, including SWITCH and private sector companies. GECA’s participation in various Konbit-led processes reinforced their commitment to strengthening internal systems to remain a leader in their field while maintaining international standards.
As USAID’s Konbit project comes to an end in 2020, Chief of Party Melissa Padberg reflected that, “Providing local partners like GECA with the tools and resources they need to overcome their challenges is our mission. For the past five years, we have increased the number of local development partners influencing and achieving significant and sustainable development results in Haiti by helping them more effectively compete for and manage resources.”
To learn more about USAID’s Konbit project, please watch our video.