Today, we would like to talk about catalytic impact, something that is core to SolKomYo’s work. But what do we mean when we say that impact is catalytic? Let’s learn from the inspiring example in Gens de Nantes, a community in the northeast of Haiti.
In December 2017, SolKomYo conducted a FOCOPI (Fondo Comunitario para Prevención e Inversión – Community Fund for Prevention and Investment) training for a group of 11 individuals in Gens de Nantes, a commune 1 hour from Ouanaminthe, Haiti. After the financial literacy training, the group decided to open their own FOCOPI group. The FOCOPI offers the group a tool to save and invest and the group decides all the terms and conditions of the FOCOPI. All the interest accrued from loans and bank fees paid goes directly to the community bank itself.
Last Sunday, the FOCOPI invited SolKomYo to their “cassé ti kes” (Breaking the cash-box), which is when the bank distributes all of the savings and funds accumulated to its members after one year of operating. As SolKomYo arrived expecting a gathering with the 11 original members, 45 individuals were present. In one year’s time, they had all joined the FOCOPI. Collectively, the group had saved over USD 2,000.
This first intervention is inspiring, indeed, but it doesn’t stop there. This particular FOCOPI decided to use the funds saved in the bank to make a direct collective action in the community. Having had little access to water, they installed an entire water system in the community, providing a direct water source for over 40 community members. SolKomYo supported their commitment with half of the proceeds of the pump, which amounts to USD 160, and the FOCOPI will be responsible for the continuous maintenance of the pump.
The water system that the FOCOPI group invested in for the community provides over 40 community members with access to water.
This is an example of catalytic impact: when providing a community with an empowering financing solution, the community itself comes together to drive change.
Stories such as Gens de Nantes do not stand alone. The FOCOPI model is being adopted by many community organizations and is driving bottom-up solutions to community development. For example, in the remote mountainous region of Cotelette in the northeast department of Haiti, after opening one FOCOPI In the summer of 2017, the region has opened 7 additional banks. The banks are providing numerous solutions, and one of the members, for example, purchased a cow to start his very own livestock business.
These FOCOPIs are not only successful because it is a tool that is available to many community members that were not available before, but also, the FOCOPIs are successful because they are community-owned. With ownership, communities feel empowered to maximize the tool as much as possible to set their own futures.