Elie S., a resident of Port-Margot in Haiti, is a devoted mother of four – three boys and a girl. Three of her children are in school, while the youngest is still an infant.
Elie has been associated with Fonkoze, a WE supported health program, for a few years now. She started with a loan of 3,000 HTG (~$22) and has grown her credit to 100,000 HTG ($733). Four years ago, she became a Community Health Entrepreneur (CHE) and eagerly joined the Boutik Sante program when it launched in Port-Margot. Even during her pregnancy, she actively promoted and generated interest in Boutik Sante within her community.
Before Fonkoze, Elie used to sell clothing and shoes as a street vendor, and later dishes and food. Being a part of Fonkoze relieved her from walking the streets to sell her items, resulting in higher income. She appreciates the quality and competitive pricing of Boutik Sante products, which saves her from traveling long distances to procure products to sell.
Elie’s involvement with Fonkoze goes beyond being a CHE. She is also a member of Fonkoze’s General Assembly, which empowers women with leadership skills and gives clients a voice in Fonkoze’s work. She values this position as it allows her to actively contribute to her community. Additionally, Elie has benefited from various trainings offered by Fonkoze through the AKSYON program, which aimed to reduce malnutrition in rural Haiti and ran from 2016 to 2021.
Her dream is to see her children grow up healthy and continue to enjoy their education. As a Center chief, Elie is dedicated to spreading awareness about Fonkoze and encouraging others in her community to join the organization.
Nearly half of Haiti’s population is experiencing acute hunger due to a record-breaking food shortage triggered by drought, global shortages, rising gas prices, inflation, escalating gang violence, and natural disasters. WE contributes to Fonkoze’s vision working toward a Haiti where people, standing together, have pulled themselves out of poverty. WE supports Fonkoze’s award-winning health program, Boutik Sante, with funding for training and the purchase of supplies. Women microfinance clients are able to become Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHEs) through this program and conduct basic health screenings and education sessions in their communities and sell health products for additional income.
Since 1994, Carinne has owned a small but profitable clothing business, buying used clothes and then selling them in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This business came to a halt when the devastating earthquake hit in 2010. In an instant, her life changed. She lost everything, and one of her sons was seriously injured. Seeking medical care, she had to travel across the border to the Dominican Republic. When Carinne and her family returned home to Haiti, Carinne was able to quickly adapt to her new environment, which motivated her husband and two sons to do the same. The eldest was able to complete his law studies and the youngest is in 8th grade – great accomplishments that can largely be attributed to Carinne’s ability to nurture her family even during the toughest of times. “I dream of seeing them in high-level positions in the country,” she says.
Thanks to a micro-loan she received through Fonkoze’s Solidarity program, Carinne was able to restart her clothing business in 2015. Her tenacity, leadership skills, and management style also earned her the peer-elected position of Center Chief among other Fonkoze lending clients in her Solidarity Center.
When given the opportunity to join Fonkoze’s social enterprise health program Boutik Sante, a WE-funded program, Carinne did not hesitate. Selling over-the-counter health products and providing health services such as malnutrition screenings to her community brings her joy. “Assisting the people of the village is second nature to me,” she explains. Carinne operates her boutik sante (community health store) from her home, which allows her the flexibility to run her clothing business on the side and earn extra income.
Since receiving her first loan from Fonkoze, things have progressively gotten better for Carinne and her family, and she is proud of her accomplishments. She is now trying to help the women in her community start their own businesses so that they, too, can have an opportunity to prosper with dignity.
In 2021 alone, 207 CHEs were trained to open a boutik sante. All across the country, new and continuing CHEs provided improved access to health services and education for 250,000 households in rural communities. Just like Carrine, they are increasing their personal revenue, while giving back to their community, and Carrine continues to amplify that across her region, leading other women to do the same.
Marlene is a single mother who works hard to provide for her six children in the Goyay area of Haiti’s Central Plateau, where rural families like hers are all too often overlooked and sometimes forgotten. Marlene is determined not to fall through the cracks of society. And she is succeeding.
Previously selling coal in Port-au-Prince, Marlene left that business and the city behind to start a new business outside of the capital due to ongoing unrest and rising crime. Shortly after, she joined the Solidarity Program of WE Partner, Fonkoze, and was trained to be a Community Health Entrepreneur (CHE). She now proudly owns her own boutik sante–a community health store–and is able to help her local community by providing access to health products, services, and education. Her drive and success even earned her the position of Center Chief, a peer-elected leader of a Fonkoze-empowered Solidarity Center. Five to six Solidarity Groups from a common geographical area join to form a Solidarity Center of 25-30 women. Centers meet monthly to repay their loans, build community and participate in education and training activities.
Marleen says she trusts Fonkoze and is always encouraging other women to join. Proud of her growing business, she enjoys selecting high-quality products and is happy that a Fonkoze procurement site is located close to her home. “I don’t have to spend money and time on transportation to purchase items to sell in my store,” she says.
Marlene has been a Fonkoze client for 15 years. Since beginning her partnership with Fonkoze, she has made a tremendous amount of progress, both personally and professionally. Her hard work and determination have also enabled all her children to stay in school. She says, “Thanks to the loans and the business skills training I’ve received from Fonkoze, I have been able to grow my business, purchase my own land, and I plan on building a home soon!”
“We have saved the lives of many malnourished children. But unfortunately, we lost some too, because when we found them, their cases were already too advanced.” – Mimose Anicy
Mimose Anicy, mother of eight, became a Community Health Entrepreneur with Fonkoze’s Boutik Sante program in 2017. Mimose’s isolated community in Northeast Haiti is very far from the nearest health facilities and her services are in high demand. “Headaches, stomachaches, menstrual issues, hypertension—people come to me for help or advice because they know that every month I receive training from Fonkoze,” she says. Anicy is especially proud of the lifesaving work she has done to address malnutrition in her community.
Since joining Fonkoze, Anicy has steadily grown her business. She started selling oil, gasoline and rice, later expanding to sell cosmetics, fertilizers and other supplies. And now, she offers new products through her Boutik Sante inventory. Solar lamps and iodized salt are two of her most popular products.
Soon after COVID-19 spread to Haiti, Mimose shifted her business from the public market in Saint Rafael to her house. Thanks to Boutik Sante’s reliable supply chain, she was able to sustain her business, primarily by selling her Boutik Sante inventory.
It is Mimose’s business that puts food on the table for her eight children and pays their school fees, including for her two children who are in university. Her savings has enabled her to buy cattle, horses, goats and a half-acre of land for a farm that her husband tends.
Women like Mimose bring hope, healing and essential care in the darkest times. You can support WE’s partnership with Fonkoze by Donating Here. Thank you!
Meet Bernadette Joseph, a mother of six living outside Port-au-Prince in Masissade, Haiti.
To earn a living and care for her family, Barnadette spent years buying and reselling charcoal, barely earning a profit from the risky and laborious work. Thanks to support and loans from WE partner Fonkoze, Bernadette was able to expand her business to selling used goods, including clothing. But she still had to travel too far from home and wasn’t earning enough to support her children.
That’s when Bernadette became a Community Health Entrepreneur (CHE) with Fonkoze’s Boutik Sante program. For three years now, through Boutik Sante, Bernadette procures over-the-counter health products from Fonkoze that she resells in her boutik, or community health store. She no longer has to travel long distances for her inventory and is filling vital needs in her village for health products, malnutrition screenings for babies and children and even educating her community about health practices. As important, she is incredibly proud to be a life-saving resource in her community.
“I’m helping to reduce malnutrition in my community,” says Bernadette. “There are children who would die if they were not treated.”
Your donations help empower women just like Bernadette. In the aftermath of the recent earthquakes in Haiti and on-going political instability, now is the time to make a difference for Haitian women. If you can help, please contribute on WE’s website today.
In Odette Midy’s community near Lavale, Haiti, the nearest place to buy over-the-counter health products was more than an hour away. Rather than make the long journey by foot, Odette’s friends and neighbors would often let illnesses and wounds go untreated. Soon, people would get sicker and infections would take hold.
Today, through her community health store (Boutik Sante), Odette is trying to change this. Her participation in Fonkoze’s Boutik Sante Program – an innovative social enterprise that expands access to over-the-counter health products and services in rural Haiti – is enabling her to do just that.
The Program has helped Odette to expand her business and gain skills to serve as a valuable resource in her community. For example, Fonkoze’s registered nurses are training Odette and other Fonkoze clients to administer basic screening services (blood pressure, malnutrition, diabetes, and others) and to incorporate health-related products into their existing businesses. They thus become “Community Health Entrepreneurs.”
When asked about her motivation in life, she says, “I am not married, but I work hard for my eight-year-old daughter. I want to see her succeed in life.” Odette also says that Fonkoze is the one partner she can really “rely on.” She was able to build a home with profits from her small business, which she expanded with loans from Fonkoze.
Having been a Fonkoze client for ten years, she has gained the respect of the 55 other Fonkoze clients in her Credit Center, which they named Tèt Ansanm (Heads Together). They even elected her to be their “Center Chief” – the leader of the group.
Odette is pleased with the progress she is making, saying, “Everything is selling well. My Fonkoze friends are also my clients, and the people in my village are happy to buy from me.” Sometimes, she serves more than 30 clients in a day.