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Lending communities in Haiti - do they make a difference?

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In 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Haiti commissioned an external qualitative assessment of a four-year Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) activity funded by USAID that had recently ended. USAID wanted to know whether SILC met members’ needs; had an impact on individual, child and household well-being; whether SILC groups continued after donor support ended, and why or why not. Using a purposive sample of high- and low-performing groups, in-depth interviews were conducted with SILC members and programme implementers including community mobilizers (CMs) and programme staff. Focus group discussions were conducted with SILC members. Interviews and discussions were conducted in Creole, translated verbatim into English and analysed in Atlas-TI. Respondents reported that SILC group activities met members’ needs; members used loans and share-out funds for business investments, school fees, health-related expenses, household consumption of purchasing land or livestock; and that SILC groups differed from other financial institutions due to lower interest rates, sense of ownership of funds, and community solidarity and collective action. Many groups remained active and new groups were created after donor support ended. Other groups disbanded when stipends for CMs ceased, due to lack of engagement from CMs, reduced group member motivation and/or the economic situation. The key factor ensuring success and sustainability seemed to be groups’ sense of ownership of their capital and of the SILC methodology. This assessment produced important findings that can be used to adapt current savings and lending group programming and inform future programming within Haiti and beyond.

Palladium's Lisa Parker, Senior Technical Advisor of Monitoring and Evaluation, contributed to this article for the Taylor and Francis Online journal.