Kiva is one of my favorite nonprofits as it makes microloans to developing country entrepreneurs and I fully support the notion of encouraging “Trade not Aid” whenever possible. I checked their blog today to see what if anything they were saying about Haiti. The following is an update from the Kiva Blog, dated 1/13/2010.
“As you may have seen in the news, a terrible earthquake struck Haiti yesterday afternoon. The earthquake, 7.0 in magnitude, struck about 10 miles outside Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The devastation has been enormous, with many buildings destroyed and thousands of people presumed dead. This is the worst earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years.
Kiva currently supports borrowers in Haiti through our field partner, Esperanza International. Esperanza is based in the Dominican Republic, but has an office and provides loans in Haiti. About 1/3 of the loans Esperanza posts to Kiva are for borrowers in Haiti. In addition, a large percentage of the loans posted from the Dominican Republic are of Haitian migrants who still have family in Haiti. Esperanza has told us that as of now, Esperanza staff are safe though they have several employees with family in Port-au-Prince who have not been able to contact their families and are very concerned. Esperanza’s clients are located in the North, while the earthquake struck the capital in the south. Most of their clients live close to their offices in the north. However, many of them have businesses that require them to travel to and from Port-au-Prince to buy merchandise to sell in the main markets. Their businesses may have been affected and it is possible that some of them may have been in Port-au-Prince at the time and been injured.
It is impossible for Esperanza to give us any exact figures at this time as information is only slowly trickling out of Haiti. As Kiva learns more about the effect of the earthquake on Esperanza and their Kiva borrowers we will update lenders.”
Right now in the immediate aftermath of this disaster , support for basic services including water, food, health care, and shelter is essential. After the initial response and clean-up phases which will likely take quite some time considering the current conditions in the country, support for rebuilding will be critical. We must stay mindful that Haiti will need assistance for years to come – even after the focus of the international community has faded away and onto whatever disaster is next. Kiva will play a really important role in helping entrepreneurs get back on their feet and begin to again find ways to support themselves and their families through commerce. Please keep your eyes open and when loan requests have been processed for Haitians and there is enough structure to begin making loans again, remember your support of even a few dollars can make a HUGE difference in someone’s life.