Turning Points for Solisyon Kominote Yo

Solisyon Kominote Yo (SolKomYo) celebrated a very special occasion on December 9th. At the end of each year, SolKomYo invites beneficiaries to discuss the work that was accomplished and plans for the upcoming year.

This year was unlike the others because for the first time SolKomYo met with each community group that they support, and 85 representatives were present at the meeting! The SolKomYo team provides trainings, tools, and resources to change obstacles into opportunities for the community. From the range of topics during the meeting, from goats, to savings banks, to solar energy, to empowerment trainings, it truly demonstrates the diverse solutions that SolKomYo has applied.

During the ceremony, different members of Solisyon Kominote Yo presented to the audience the benefits that SolKomYo has provided to them.

From youth to elders, from farmers to female merchants, each group expressed their gratitude for SolKomYo and the impact the work has had within their community. Each had exciting developments that we will discuss below:

The youth group received certificates to acknowledge their graduation from the youth summer program, where 15 youth participated in a series of trainings around entrepreneurship, communication, leadership, and environmental management. As a result of these trainings, the youth have formed a sustainable venture in which they transform used plastic bottles to bracelets. If you are interested in purchasing the $5 handmade bracelet that directly supports youth empowerment, please write us at olivia@cesolutions.org.

IMG_4542

The youth group present during SolKomYo’s final meeting. 

As part of a youth empowerment and waste management initiative, the youth have created a small business venture in which they handmake bracelets from recycled plastic bottles. 

It was also a special moment for the group of female merchants that we work with. which began after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 through our gofundme campaign. These women live in a very neglected area of Ouanaminthe and lack access to critical services. Over a year later, the 10 women meet regularly to discuss their income-generating activities and have built solidarity amongst each other. They are officially named the AFTKW – Association of Female Merchants of Ouanaminthe (Assosyasyon Famn Ti Komesan Wanament) and received shirts to acknowledge their commitment. In the coming year, SolKomYo is planning several trainings with the women, including literacy in reading and writing, community savings banks, small business development, and peacebuilding in community leadership.

IMG_4545

The group of female merchants – AFTKW (Asosysan Famn Ti Komesan Wanament – Association of Female Merchants of Ouanaminthe) – that was born from Solisyon Kominote Yo.

It was an exciting moment for CAF (community savings banks) and financial literacy trainers because SolKomYo officially has 20 savings banks opened with over USD $1000 saved cumulatively. This tool gives communities access to loans and savings that are otherwise nonexistent. In addition, the Financial Literacy Trainers from Codevi, the textile factory, are continuing to build their capacity and are planning to provide additional trainings in 2018.

IMG_4538

Our group of Financial Literacy Trainers and the AJT – (Assosyason Jen Travailleurs – Association of Young Workers) – Savings Group!

The agriculture group also had lots to celebrate – and did not walk away from the event empty handed! They received their certificates from the trainings they participated in throughout the year over climate-smart agricultural practices and financial stability. In addition, several members received the first distribution of rabbits to begin their multiplication. In the coming year, we will be working with this agricultural group, FAKO –the Federation of Community Agriculturalists in Ouanaminthe (Federasyon Agrikilti Kominote Ouanaminthe)- to continue climate-resilient agricultural practices and innovative farming techniques to increase their production, competitiveness, and self-sufficiency.

IMG_4551

SolKomYo’s Agricultural Group – FAKO

IMG_4571

Agronomist Evens makes the first distribution of rabbits to several members of FAKO.

And last but certainly not least, the group of Community Entrepreneurs (ACs) that we work with that we like to call our “ancient” group because we have been working with them since 2012! It marked an exciting time for them because after a hiatus in selling lamps through the MicroConsignment Model and continuous requests to restart this program, SolKomYo was officially able to restock its inventory with quality solar lamps and provide the ACs with products again! This is a very exciting turning point for 2018.

IMG_4560

SolKomYo’s Community Entrepreneurs (ACs), whom we’ve worked with since 2012, and with their new stock of solar lamps in hand.

This is all a result of the immense work of the local team, Solisyon Kominote Yo, who have worked tirelessly to make all of this possible. It also marks an important step for the team: through capacity building and professional development that began in 2012, they have arrived at the point in which they will be predominantly led by the local team starting in 2018!

IMG_4562

The men and women behind the curtain, the SolKomYo team and the Community Empowerment Solutions Collaborator.

And of course, thank you for the support of our partners who without their generosity, none of this would be possible! At the end of this year, the SolKomYo team is feeling very proud of all that they have been able to accomplish in the northeast department of Haiti and are very eager and motivated for 2018!

Advertisements

Advancing Agricultural Projects In Haiti

FAKO – it’s official – the Federation of Community Agriculturalists in Ouanaminthe (Federasyon Agrikilti Kominte a Ouanaminthe). Representing 5 communal sections around Ouanaminthe (Savane au Lait, Gens De Nante, Savane Longue, Haut Maribaux, Acuil De Pins), 7 organizations, and 18 members, Solkomyo created this group of farmers to test solutions together and advance the agricultural environment in the Ouanaminthe area. The group meets once a month and undergoes additional trainings related to climate-smart agriculture techniques, natural insecticides, irrigation solutions, and practices to improve financial security, to begin! These farmers are ready to be leaders in their communities and transfer the information they learn to their community organizations.

This week, Solkomyo began a Rabbit Project with 4 of the 7 organizations within FAKO. With a training and assistance on rabbit production, Solkomyo will provide each of the organizations with 2 rabbits each with the agreement that they will build the rabbit’s shelter and be responsible for the continuous care of the rabbit.

4 of the 7 member organizations of FAKO participate in the rabbit training led by the Solkomyo Agronomist, Evens Baptiste.

Solkomyo will adopt an approach called “Economic Solidarity”, which indicates that the farmers will grow the rabbit community in a coalition, sharing benefits and cross-breeding between all of their rabbits. This way going forward, the farmers will have a support system and the supply of the rabbit market will increase.

Rain or shine, through rivers or fields, the Solkomyo team is dedicated to working hand in hand with the farmers to understand the situations they face and how to best design solutions to address those needs.

In Solkomyo’s eye, rabbits are a miracle animal for a myriad of reasons! 1. They are relatively easy to care for 2. They reproduce very quickly: in just 7 months, a Solkomyo member went from 2 to 40 rabbits! 3. The meat is very nutritious 4. The rabbit market is rather undeveloped in Haiti.

That said, Solkomyo believes that this can bring many added benefits to the community organizations, including an added source of income and a nutritious asset to their diet!

Solkomyo has also experimented with beginning clean water fisheries in the region, however they are still spotting the best regions to pilot this.

 

FullSizeRender (11)

Solkomyo visits a local fishery in the city of Fort Liberté to explore how this community-oriented initiative is benefiting the community while also being economically viable.

 

This program is led by Solkomyo’s Agronomist, Evens Baptiste, with the strong support of the Solkomyo Office Coordinator, Antnoio Vixama. Do stay tuned, because much more is in the making for Solkomyo’s agricultural work!

SolKomYo’s Summer Empowering Youth in Ouanaminthe

Solisyon Kominote Yo kicked off the summer with our Youth Empowerment Summer Series – 16 youth from community organizations and local schools in Ouanaminthe are on their way to be the next changemakers in their community.

IMG_2636.JPG

Here are the 16 youth that are participating in our summer program – all from different schools in Ouanaminthe!

Solkomyo invests in youth to inspire them to be agents of change in their communities and provide them with the skill set to understand how to identify problems in their community and identify entrepreneurial solutions to address them. After the training, they will transmit this inspiration and knowledge to their peers and encourage one another that anything is possible.

 

 

We follow the Dream It Do It approach that Ashoka institutes for its changemakers, involving a series of trainings where students begin to identify the problems in their communities and design sustainable ventures to address them. Within these modules, we’ve included a series of skills-based training involving financial literacy, communication, leadership, and entrepreneurship. We’ve also included subject-specific discussions around climate change, natural resource management, and civil society, as these topics are priorities identified by the communities.

 

IMG_2216

The students participate in a training on entrepreneurship to understand that it is possible to design sustainable business ventures to solve the priority needs of the community.

 

We wanted to be sure the youth see real-world applications of this work, and included visits to social enterprises in the northeast of Haiti that are working to address societal and environmental problems, including our partners at SOIL, Green Charcoal, Thread International, and the local agricultural institutions we work with (social enterprises at heart!).

 

IMG_2510.JPG

The youth visit a community agricultural center to understand the importance of agricultural development and that farming is a social enterprise in and of itself.

 

The youth participants are dedicated, enthusiastic, respectful, and inquisitive. They are engaged in the topics and already have ideas of social enterprises including transforming waste-to-artisan material and community reforestation projects.

The combined activities allow for a summer both theoretical and practical for the students to find the means, knowledge, and aspiration to know that their dreams can become reality!

 

Solutions in Disaster Relief

Welcome, 2017. We would like to introduce the New Year with an update we are very excited about, our new community group, the “Female Merchants”.

This originated from a gofundme project that we began back in October. You can click here to read the history and access the page. For a short overview, SolKomYo used the gofundme funds that were raised at the plight of a natural disaster in Haiti to reach the northern region that was seriously affected by floods.

img_1228

A house flooded from the heavy rains.

img_1234

The trash that accumulated from the flooding in neighborhoods around Ouanaminthe.

SolKomYo began a lending program with 15 females that were severely affected by the floods. They had lost all of their income-generating activities because the floods damaged their assets. We chose to invest in females because they are often the ones to manage their family’s finances.

We gave each family a lump sum to rebuild their small business, and they will repay 2% of that amount every month. With these payments, SolKomYo began a savings group for the recipients, so the money they pay back will enter their personal savings.

sam_1214

The recipients of the micro-loans that SolKomYo provided to help rebuild their small income-generating activities.

We met with them on the 15th of January, and each recipient paid back the first amount. They all invested the money in a small trade to make income again and support their livelihoods. That is why we call them, the “Female Merchants”. With the savings group that SolKomYo has set up, they will also be able to build resiliency in the event of another natural disaster.

sam_1204

The recipient who lives in the house pictured above.

sam_1211

The meeting with the beneficiaries when SolKomYo distributed the loans.

This project is an example of how a small investment into a family’s income-generating activity combined with a community financing program can be an effective way to support populations affected by natural disaster.

If you would like to continue supporting this project that is 100% sourced from crowdfunding, please feel free to contribute directly on the gofundme site or email olivia@cesolutions.org. Thank you!

Reflections from SolKomYo

As we close out the year with the bi-annual meeting with our 30 Community Entrepreneurs, we are reflecting on a truly eventful year for SolKomYo. It has been a momentous year where SolKomYo has built relationships, took risks and innovated, and brought new opportunities for the communities of Ouanaminthe. To name a few, we have entered new communities, trained entrepreneurs, developed the SolKomYo ak Jen (SolKomYo with Youth) portfolio, introduced new opportunities for agriculturalists, trained 10 textile workers to be financial literacy trainers, created new community savings groups, strengthened local community organizations, began a relief project, and the list continues. Meanwhile, we are developing immense capacity among the team to lead this community-led development work.

SAM_1217.JPG

SolKomYo team member, Elizabeth, presents the roles and responsibilities of SolKomYo during the Community Entrepreneur Meeting.

While the amount of work accomplished is important, we also strive to ensure the quality of all our work is upheld and that we are responding to community needs and creating positive impact among households. For this reason, we continuously conduct follow-up surveys and impact evaluations in the communities in which we work. We hope to strengthen individuals and organizations to become leaders in their community in the long-term and lead this change.

SAM_1233.JPG

Community Savings Group Leaders and SolKomYo Coordinator, Antonio Vixama, discuss the progress of the savings groups that SolKomYo has started.

In the bi-annual meeting with our Community Entrepreneurs (AC) we held last Saturday, SolKomYo discussed the program plans for next year, and also took the opportunity to receive feedback from the entrepreneurs. The ACs requested if new technologies could be introduced, if additional trainings could be offered, and if there was a possibility of beginning more agriculture projects in their communities. SolKomYo will continue to innovate to provide a variety of solutions in the communities in which we work.

The SolKomYo team and the Community Entrepreneurs meet twice a year to evaluate the work and present upcoming plans.

In the following year, we will grow our work to bring more opportunities for youth, women, textile workers, agriculturalists, and entrepreneurs. We will continue to provide individuals and organizations the means, ability, and inspiration to be empowered to lead positive change in their communities.

Thank you to everyone who has supported SolKomYo along the way, it would not be possible without your trust and collaboration. We wish you a very Happy New Year and please check back in 2017 to hear about our new initiatives!

Sustainable agriculture in Haiti

July marks one year that Solisyon Kominote Yo partnered with the farmer’s cooperative Asosyasyon Fanmiy Agwoekolojik Kotlet (AFAEK) to begin a goat breeding project in the mountainous region of Saint Suzanne. Since the first distribution of goats in January 2016, AFAEK has distributed 55 of the 66 goats to members of AFAEK, with the batch being distributed this month. Already 7 baby goats have been born and 14 are pregnant, proving that the the project is off to a good start. The baby goats will wait 6 months until they begin to be distributed to other AFAEK members throughout the Cotelette region.

beneficiary haitiA beneficiary with his two baby goats.

salnaveSalnave, the Co-Founder of AFAEK with his goat in front of his house in Cotelette.

Before this project began, Solisyon Kominote Yo, with the support of the International Finance Corporation, were researching ways to support agricultural development outside of Ouanaminthe to address the stressing food scarcity in the northeast region of Haiti. The goat breeding project was introduced to support animal husbandry in the region and provide market access for the beneficiaries. AFAEK, the local farmer cooperative, has worked very hard to make the project a success and ensure that the beneficiaries receive extensive trainings on how to care for the goats, the proper infrastructure needed for the goats, and are also taught the best way to help a goat reproduce. The project has demonstrated the importance of innovation in the field, because when try something new it gives the possibility to create increased opportunity for the community and a new source of income for the goat owners.

goatsA beneficiary in front of the shelter that he constructed for his goat.

The project has also proved the results of a strong partnership, as Solisyon Kominote Yo is continuing to develop projects to support the community members in Cotelette, for example beginning SolkomYo’s financial services program to AFAEK members.

oliviaMembers of Solisyon Kominote Yo and AFAEK during a monthly meeting in Cotelette.

Jou Timoun Entènasyonal La

childrens-day

Solisyon kominote Yo and The Sisters of San Juan in Ouanaminthe invited 6 local schools to celebrate The International Day of Children in the courtyard of the Sisters Homeon June 1st. The day began with an introduction of the organizations present, which was Solisyon Kominote Yo, the Sisters of San Juanita, and Codevi, each explaining the importance of youth in Ouanaminthe.

SAM_0036Members from Las Hermanas, Codevi, College Belle Amour, and Solisyon Kominote Yo team up to help prepare for the event.

The event was a unique opportunity to provide a day of celebration for the 300 students that came, and to show that across all schools in Ouanaminthe, children have rights and access to freedoms, and represent the future of Haiti. Each school prepared a short activity to present in front of the class, filling the space with song, dance, poetry, and theater.

 

SAM_0077

Students from the schools prepared activities to perform in front of the group.

 

The event was also a way to build great partnerships between Solisyon Kominote Yo, the Sisters of San Juan, Codevi, and the schools in Ouanaminthe, creating a strong platform to continue working together in the future.

SAM_0121

Members from Las Hermanas and Solisyon Kominote worked together to coordinate the event.

Ouanaminthe’s fair for Locally Produced goods 2016

May 1st is a day on which two holidays are celebrated in Haiti: Labour Day and Agricultural day. As a result, a lot of NGOs operating in Ouanaminthe got together, under the impulsion of the Agency for economic development in the North East (ADANET) to be part of the annual fair for the promotion on the consumption of locally produced goods and the advocacy of local institutions playing a central role in strengthening human capital in and around  Ouanaminthe.

The event, which took place in Ouanaminthe Town Square featured several local vendors of unique, hand made, creative, or customized items.  The fair, was warmly welcomed on the local scene and gave locals and visitors to Ouanaminthe the opportunity to buy locally produced, high quality, fresh, affordable products directly  from carefully selected food producers, craftspeople and artists.

This Annual Event Organised by ADANET ,  which was financially and logistically supported by OXFAM Haiti, served as an excellent selling point for artists and craftspeople as it is for enterprising individuals who are creating delicious delicacies with local seasonal products and serves as an excellent showcase.The team of Solkomyo took advantage of this event to show solidarity to several members of its local partner network and to interact with the local community to further presents its goods and services. Indeed, the event brought  together a large crowd of people coming from every corner of the North-East department as well as several guests from other departments  , who had the opportunity to enjoy a special event held in a lovely setting in the heart of Ouanaminthe.

Finalist in Ashoka’s Fabric of Change Competition

Ashoka supports entrepreneurs around the world that bring innovative solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. Last Fall, Ashoka sought out to find the world’s innovators in the global textile industry in their Fabric of Change: Innovating for a Sustainable Apparel Industry Contest. The textile industry is the world’s second largest employer, and if operated thoughtfully and sustainably, has great potential to bring positive change to global trade.

The finalists to the contest were announced in February, and CES’s initiative in Haiti was shortlisted in the top 10 out of 300 applications from around the world. While the topics spanned from recycling garment waste into renewable fiber to creating ethical compliance standards in artisan supply chains, CES’s Worker Well Being partnership with the Levi Strauss Foundation stood out among applications.

The Worker Well Being Initiative is a partnership with the Levi Strauss Foundation and Codevi Industrial Park to utilize the textile factory located in Ouanaminthe, Haiti as a center point to support community-based change in the community. By offering a financial literacy course to textile workers and community members, CES Haiti provides the knowledge and tools necessary to improve one’s financial situation and increase individual household incomes. In addition, CES Haiti provides essential life-changing technologies to address the light, vision, and water problems in the daily lives of the factory workers through a savings plan offered by the factory. This strong partnership between CES Haiti, the Levi Strauss Foundation, and Codevi demonstrates the influence of the textile industry and how a factory can be a powerful catalyst for positive change in the community.

10390975_739251199473482_7786665046902244414_n

Graduates of the Financial Literacy Course in 2014

As a finalist, CES Haiti was invited to the Fabric of Change Summit in Copenhagen in May, where the top 3 winners will be announced. The winners will be given financial support to scale their projects. Here is a link the the contest.

https://www.changemakers.com/fabricofchange

Check out CES Haiti’s initiative here, and please cross your fingers for SolKomYo as the winners are announced!

https://www.changemakers.com/fabricofchange/entries/worker-well-being

If Your House Was On A Hill

Creating Productive Land for Marginalized Landowners

Those who live on a hillside farm outside of Ouanaminthe struggle to make use of their land and become increasingly marginalized from income-generating activities. To find a solution, Solisyon Kimonte Yo partnered with Meds and Foods for Kids (MFK) to provide extensive trainings to the landowners on these plots of land, teaching them how to grow peanuts on their hillside farms. This will not only help them generate income for the farmers by selling in markets in Ouanaminthe and neighboring towns, but will also strengthen the food security of the increasingly drought-stricken northeast region of Haiti.

IMG_6591

Landowners of hillside plots who are participating in the peanut plant training.

IMG_6610

Beneficiaries participate in a training in Gen de Nantes on how to plant the seeds.

In a 6-month training program, MFK agronomists train 30 beneficiaries in Gen de Nantes and 30 beneficiaries in Savane au Lait on how to plant peanut seeds on a hillside demonstration plot. From contours, to weeding practices, to diseases to look out for, MFK teaches everything to the farmers to ensure they are able to harvest peanuts themselves. The Solisyon Kominote Yo Agronomist, Evens Baptiste, follows up with each beneficiary through the process, confirming that they start the method on their own land and are properly integrating the training sessions.

This strong partnership reflects the importance of knowledge-sharing provided by MFK, as well as the monitoring and evaluation that Solisyon Kominote Yo supports, strengthening the endurability of the program.

Thanks to the generous support of the International Finance Corporation we are able to provide innovative solutions to help improve food security in the north east region of Haiti.

Once Students, Now Trainers

Solisyon Kominote Yo is thrilled to announce that the third phase of the financial literacy program has begun!

After a rigorous, 3-session training over the course of 3 weekends, 15 workers within the AM3 factory of CODEVI who graduated from the financial literacy course in 2014 were selected and prepped to become trainers.

CAM00029

The 15 new trainers for the Third Phase of the Financial Literacy Program, including supervisor, Maude and Field Consultant, Gaetan.

The first two classes were conducted with the new trainers on Sunday, November 8th. The third phase allows trainers to invite members of the community to participate in addition to Codevi workers, so each class had participants from Codevi and from the community. It is a great opportunity to improve access to finance and increase financial knowledge throughout the Ouanaminthe community.

IMG_4795

IMG_4789

Participants of the financial literacy course in the school, College George Muller in Ouanaminthe.

Through the month of November, two classes will be held every Saturday and Sunday, until all 15 trainers have taught the course. The classes are held in a local school in Ouanaminthe in order to engage and interact with the community.

It is very exciting to see the once former students of the financial literacy course now empowered to lead the class themselves… creating the opportunity to generate large-scale social impact!

IMG_4788

The first two trainers of the Third Phase of the Financial Literacy Course.

IMG_4780

As always, this would not be possible without the hard work of the two supervisors, Bob and Maude, who do an outstanding job monitoring the classes and giving support to the trainers when needed. In addition, the generous support of the Levi Strauss Foundation for their commitment to improving Worker Well-Being in Ouanaminthe is invaluable.

This update highlights CES’s core value of the month, inclusivity. Within this third phase of the financial literacy program, SKY is empowering more workers from the community to become trainers, while also opening the door for community members outside of Codevi to participate in the class and improve their financial knowledge. Being as inclusive as possible is a priority in every CES project because it is essential to create long-lasting systemic change in the communities in need.

Goat-Breeding Improvement Project

Solisyon Kominote Yo has started a remarkable project to bring a source of income for an isolated community in the Northeast region of Haiti, a community called Cotelette. The goat-breeding project aims to facilitate market linkages to Cotelette by providing them with a viable income-generating activity. After receiving the goats, households will realize the benefits of animal husbandry and be able to sell the goats in nearby markets.

Cotelette is an isolated mountain town, in which you have to take a motorcycle and walk by foot to get to. As a result, the population is very isolated and lacks access to markets.

IMG_5026

The town of Cotelette.

In July 2015, SKY partnered with Asosiasyon Fanmiy Agwo Ekologik Kotlet (AFAEK) to implement a goat-breeding improvement project in Cotelette. By working with AFAEK to provide 66 goats to 60 beneficiaries in the regions, the organization will ensure that the project beneficiaries are trained in goat rearing techniques and have 60 plots of high quality forage areas. Through the learning of innovative breeding techniques, AFAEK will extend the distribution of the 60 goats to 60 other recipients, and continue until at least 180 members of the local community own a goat.

This month, Regional Coordinator, Antioni Vixama, and Field Consultant, Olivia Zeydler, visited the town to meet with the AFAEK leaders. The meeting was held in the home of the AFAEK coordinator, where 4 members of the AFAEK team were present. The group is very organized and eager to begin the distribution of the goats. They have made a project sign and have selected their beneficiaries, 37 males and 23 females. The next steps are to attain the veterinary kits to ensure that the goats remain in good health, and to begin training the beneficiaries on goat rearing techniques.

IMG_5041

Meeting with AFAEK group members.

IMG_5042

IMG_5035

Project sign that AFAEK made: “Pwojè Amelyorasyon Elvaj Kabrit.”

By providing individuals with a goat, it is an opportunity to transform the livelihood of the household and provide a way to generate continuous income for the family, creating a lasting impact on the community of Cotelette.

This project would not be possible without the generous support of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).