Within a few months, more than a dozen businesses across Haiti will be equipped and ready to help people make transactions through their credit union accounts—something that is desperately needed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present a health risk for people who have to travel great lengths or brave crowded conditions at branch locations.
World Council’s Haiti Accessible Finance Activity is currently piloting the “intermediary agent” component of its field officer banking methodology, which had been successfully pioneered in Mexico and Colombia before being adapted for Haiti.
Intermediary agents are established to strengthen credit union member access in areas where it wouldn’t be cost effective to open a new branch location. Instead, stores and other businesses are utilized as intermediary agents that can help people open accounts, make deposits, and get cash—all through the use of a computer that connects to their credit union.
“This will be not only be a safe option for members during the pandemic, but also a convenience going forward, because they will also be able to access their accounts outside of the credit union’s normal business hours,” said Michele Breton, consultant to WOCCU’s Haiti Accessible Finance Activity.
Business owners that serve as intermediary agents are paid based on how many transactions they process, while members are charged a small fee for some of the services—such as cash withdrawals.
World Council’s Haiti Accessible Finance Activity team plans to have at least 12 businesses—located across the country in the areas of greatest need—serve as intermediary agents for credit unions affiliated with CPF, SOCOLAVIM and LE LEVIER federation by the end of August.
World Council of Credit Unions’ Haiti Accessible Finance is a USAID-funded activity.