Access to financial services can be challenging in Haiti, especially in rural areas. Reaching a financial institution requires paying high transport costs, as services are several hours away and concentrated in the main cities. Furthermore, financial institutions often lack liquidity and the capital needed to introduce new products and services tailored to both meet client demand and attract new clients to the sector.
WOCCU worked on increasing financial inclusion in Haiti for over nine years before the start of the Accessible Finance Activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This program supported both USAID’s objective of promoting a stable and economically viable Haiti, and the Central Bank of Haiti’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. Building on knowledge gained under USAID’s previous financial inclusion project, HIFIVE implemented by WOCCU, the Accessible Finance Activity tackled financial access challenges through two primary objectives:
Expand financial services and products to rural areas through established groups and digital financial services (mainly field officer banking methodology).
Sustainably address liquidity and capital challenges faced by microfinance institutions (MFIs) and credit unions.
Under objective 1, WOCCU piloted its Field Officer Banking methodology —developed and tested in several Latin American countries—with CPF, SOCOLAVIM and LE LEVIER federation of credit unions in Haiti. 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 with portable printers.
Rural Agents meet with members in person to collect deposits, process loan applications and payments, and sign up new members. Utilizing digital channels reduces transaction costs for both clients and financial institutions and increases transparency 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 financial institutions to start building credit history and access an array of products that meet their individual needs.
Under objective 2, WOCCU addressed liquidity and capital challenges faced by MFIs and credit unions through savings and investment mobilization. The program worked 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 also partnered with SSG Advisors/Resonance to pilot its Sustainable Investment Facilitation Toolkit (SIFT) with FINCA Haiti to support capital-raising efforts.
- As of October 2020, KPPP pilot credit unions served 293 groups with 4,215 members, of which 62% are women.
- As of October 2020, the KPPP Financial Education Program served 3,552 participants, of which 55% are women. 9% of non-members attending the session became credit union members.
- Despite a challenging environment of unrest and the onset of COVID-19, KPPP service was maintained. However, loan portfolios were put under stress. CPF had to write off a number of loans and SOCOLAVIM adjusted their credit strategy to focus on rural areas, less impacted by the unrest. Savings, by contrast, showed steady growth reaching a significant volume of HTG 25,778,199 (USD 409,178) as of October 2020, which is in line with the methodology’s objective to encourage savings and increase resilience
- As of October 2020, the software application for Intermediary Agents is fully functional and set up and tested in two locations, Gonaives and Limbé, with pilot testing beginning. This component of Field Officer Banking further increases remote access to member accounts through select third party businesses within the community. An additional six credit unions within the nationwide LE LEVIER network have been equipped and configuration is complete to launch the service after November 2020, as delays outside the program’s control occurred due to technical issues with the credit unions’ software and connectivity with the Intermediary Agents. All IT upgrades and support documentation were successfully transferred to the partner to continue progress beyond the end of the program.
- In coordination with ANACAPH, credit unions in the network developed six new options for savings products; 29 credit unions prepared personalized promotional materials to market new products, and 21 CUs developed marketing and communication plans as a results of trainings and coaching to support the launch of the new products.
- FINCA Haiti raised USD 7.5 million in debt and adopted a Capital Raise Playbook to better engage investors with support of SSG Advisors (known as Resonance).
- WOCCU hosted a successful virtual closeout event on November 10, 2020 to showcase and share lessons learned from Accessible Finance with partners and stakeholders. Panelists included the USAID Mission Director, Governor of the Haiti Central Bank (BRH), Director of LE LEVIER Federation of Credit Unions in Haiti and credit union leaders in Haiti.