Fifty-four percent of Haitians live on less than US $1.25 a day and 78 percent on less than US $2.50 a day.
Haiti is ranked 148th among 179 nations in the social well-being of its citizens according to the UN’s Human Development Index.
Life expectancy in Haiti is 61 years. Fifty-eight percent of the population is undernourished.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and suffers from a history of political instability, poor health care, and high levels of illiteracy and unemployment. High inflation and a growing national debt continue to be serious problems. In 2008, Haiti was hit by a series of shocks, including soaring world food and fuel prices and several severe tropical storms and hurricanes. Floods destroyed infrastructure and crops, and the rising costs of living sparked violent protests.
Although there are many challenges facing Haiti, microfinance promises hope, as the industry increased its outreach in Haiti by 40 percent between 2005 and 2007. Grameen Foundation has been supporting microfinance activities in Haiti since 2003. We currently provide financing to Fonkoze, as well as services through our social performance management program. Fonkoze also benefits from GF’s Bankers without Borders® network of professional volunteers.
We recently introduced Yeardley Smith, the actress best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson on the popular TV show “The Simpsons”, to our work with Fonkoze.