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CORE Empowers Haitian Women with Cash Program

CORE’s Voucher Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program empowered 75 Haitian women through grants and financial literacy training.

CORE worked with local women’s groups across five communes in Haiti to support women’s economic empowerment through the Voucher Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program. Participants of the program learned valuable financial skills and received gender-based violence (GBV) training. Each participant also received a loan to grow or reopen her small business.  

Supporting Women-owned Businesses

Laurette Senat smiles with her baby daughter on her lap.

Laurette Senat, a participant of the VSLA program in Babwa, used the grant to improve her drugstore. 

Laurette Senat is a nurse, mother, and the president of ASFAVAB, a women’s organization in Babwa, who participated in the VSLA program. Laurette owns a makeshift drugstore and hopes to incorporate a pharmacy within it. She did her best to protect and display her merchandise, storing first aid equipment, serums, and medicines on tabletops, inside of desks, or in a basin. But she had a clear vision to improve the set-up, increase customers and drive up profits to make her dream come true.  

 

Laurette received a grant from CORE to support her business. She used the funds to purchase wood, cement, and sand for carpenters to lay down flooring and build shelves for the pharmacy. 

 

Laurette said, “I had an amount of money, but not enough to get the work done…I wanted to finalize the inside part where I’m going to place the pharmacy. Thanks to the presence of CORE in the community, I’m about to reach my goal.”   

 

She felt strongly that the small business grants helped other group members too, many of whom had little means to expand their businesses or couldn’t upkeep them due to lack of funds.  

Solidarity in Savings

VSLA meeting in Cayes

Joseph Rételia (right) leading a VSLA meeting in Cayes.

Joseph Rételia, the president of a village association in Cayes called AVEK, agreed that the money and trainings helped members’ businesses thrive. With savings and loans, VSLA participants could now free up their profits to cover other necessities, such as school, food, and hospital visits.  

 

Like the other VSLA groups, 15 local women gathered weekly at AVEK to manage and discuss their finances. The group diligently monitored each other’s savings, distributed loans, and even collected a solidarity fund, to support members when certain needs arose, like a birthday or the death of a family member.  

 

CORE expanded AVEK’s capacity by offering financial skills and GBV training that, in Joseph’s words, expanded the group’s knowledge and brought them to an “upper level.” Joseph also emphasized the value of community within the VSLA group, sharing that navigating financial issues in a group setting empowers the women to connect and find solutions.  

 

“Instead of having trouble, going back and forth to the bank, we go faster when we put our head[s] together. We get together; share our problems, our ideas and desires. This makes it different [compared] to someone else. Someone staying at home might have the same problems that we have. But ours will be solved first, because we stand together, we make savings, [and] help one another.” 

A Source of Autonomy

15 women sitting around a wooden table organizing paper money for financial skills training.

Participants gathered at their weekly meeting where they collect savings and give out loans. 

Both Laurette and Joseph recognize the invaluable impacts of increasing financial literacy among Haitian women in their communities.  

 

“CORE is essentially helping women to be autonomous. CORE is doing the best thing in my opinion,” Laurette shared. “More often, women feel inferior due to lack of economic means, especially inferior to men. Through [the program], CORE is helping women to be more considered and valuable in society.” 

 

Having worked with many communities in Haiti through times of crisis and beyond, CORE understands the importance of programs like VSLA, which embodies our mission to give communities the tools to build long-term resilience and autonomy. 

Learn more about our ongoing work in Haiti here