Haiti Accessible Finance Activity
Expanding Remote Financial Access Using Digital Channels
World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has been working on increasing financial inclusion in Haiti for over nine years. The organization’s efforts have culminated in the Accessible Finance Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This three year program (January 2017 to January 2020) supports both USAID’s objective of promoting a stable and economically viable Haiti and supports Haiti’s Central Bank’s goal of creating a financially and economically more inclusive society by ensuring the greatest possible access to savings, credit, and other financial products and services.
Creating economic prosperity for all of Haiti’s citizens remains a challenge today. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with three quarters of the population living on less than US $2 a day, and more than two-thirds of the labor force currently do not hold jobs in the formal sector. Despite this, WOCCU’s experience in Haiti demonstrates that Haitians do have money to save, even if the deposits are small. However, accessing financial services poses another layer of challenges as reaching a financial institution requires paying high transport costs as the services are often several hours away. Furthermore, financial institutions can lack liquidity and the capital needed to introduce new products and services tailored to client demand and to attract new clients to the sector.
Building on knowledge gained under USAID’s previous financial inclusion project, HIFIVE implemented by WOCCU, the Accessible Finance Activity tackles these challenges through two primary objectives:
- Objective 1: Expand financial services and products to rural areas through established groups and digital financial services (mainly field officer banking methodology).
- Objective 2: Sustainably address liquidity and capital challenges faced by microfinance institutions (MFIs) and credit unions.
Under objective 1, WOCCU is piloting its field officer banking methodology—developed and tested in other Latin American countries—with CPF, SOCOLAVIM and LE LEVIER federation of credit unions. Through field officer banking, branded as Kes Pam Pi Pre’m (KPPP) in Haiti, or ‘My Credit Union Close to Me’ in English, Rural Agents from formal financial institutions use motorbikes to reach rural areas, bringing financial services through smartphones or tablets.
The Rural Agents meet in person with members to collect deposits, process loan applications and payments, and sign up new members. Using digital channels, transaction costs for both the financial institution and the clients are reduced, and transparency is increased through digital receipts. With direct access to accounts through the smartphone or tablet, financial institutions can offer clients individual accounts, rather than the traditional group accounts and guarantees—enabling clients to have a direct relationship with the financial institution to start building a credit history and access an array of products that meet their individual needs.
Under objective 2, WOCCU addresses liquidity and capital challenges faced by MFIs and credit unions through savings and investment mobilization. The program is working with the national association of credit unions, Association Nationale des Caisses Populaires haïtiennes (ANACAPH), an affiliate member of WOCCU, to identify and recommend client-driven deposit products, policies, and mobilization strategies. WOCCU is also partnering with SSG Advisors to pilot its Sustainable Investment Facilitation Toolkit (SIFT) with FINCA Haiti to support capital raising efforts.