Take Aways From Our 4th Financial Literacy Program

Last Sunday, we celebrated our 4th Financial Literacy Graduation. 58 participants graduated which brings our total amount to 700 since we began the program in 2014. This is very exciting! We would like to thank all of the participants for their hard work, the 10 financial literacy trainers that lead this work, and to the Levi Strauss Foundation for the support of this program.

 

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The graduates of the 4th Financial Literacy Program

 

There were 3 items that stood out during this phase that we would like to draw attention to.

  1. 74 participants started the course in January, 58 graduated. That is an 80% completion rate, the highest amount we’ve had since initiating the course. This merits a huge applause to our financial literacy trainers for supporting and continuing to engage the participants along the way.
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As the graduates accepted their certificates, they took photos with the Financial Literacy Trainers and the Solkomyo team.

2. This year, we introduced a new aspect to the financial literacy program, the community savings bank (CAF). This provides a direct action for participants to take after finishing the program to continue putting into practice what they learn during the course and improve their financial security. Already 50% of the participants have signed up to join a savings group.

This is thanks to the financial literacy trainers whose success of their CAF has been a positive example for the participants. The trainers have cumulatively saved over $800 (equivalent to 8 months’ salary) in just 6 months and continuously take out loans amongst each other to support their other income-generating activities. As one trainer, Frideline put it, “Before I would have lacked money to advance or improve my livelihood, but now with the group, I am never in a position where I lack money because we all support each other.”

  1. We can say it time and time again, but none of this would be possible without the incredible dedication, professionalism, and hard work of the financial literacy trainers. From being participants themselves just 3 years ago, they have grown tremendously over the years and have stepped into huge leadership roles. Their responsibility in improving the financial situation of their communities, Ouanaminthe, and the entire country of Haiti is exemplary and they are fully committed to building the financial resilience of Haitians across the country. This year, we paid the trainers part-time salaries which were well-deserved and validated their hard work, making their involvement and hard work sustainable for the long-term.

Thank you again to the Levi Strauss Foundation for supporting this program. Solkomyo strives to continue providing financial literacy education to textile workers in CODEVI, the Ouanaminthe community, and the entire northeast department of Haiti.

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Continuing to Provide Financial Services to CODEVI workers and the community

As the CODEVI Industrial Park is expanding, SolKomYo is committed to continuing supporting the workers. For the fourth consecutive year, SolKomYo has offered a program that provides financial education to textile workers and community members to provide them with the knowledge and strategies to become more financially secure.

 

Photos from the financial literacy course that SolKomYo offers to textile workers and community members. 

The 10 Financial Literacy Trainers from CODEVI who conducted the last phase of the financial literacy training are leading this program. The trainers have been involved in the Financial Literacy Program since 2014, and have since become experts on the subject, have formed their own savings groups, and have advocated financial literacy within the factories and their communities.

This year, each trainer mobilized groups of 10-20 participants, including current and former textile workers as well as community members. The financial literacy course is offered in two parts: the first introduces the participants to themes of household cash flow and the different categories of expenses, and the 2nd course teaches debt management and savings strategies. The participants receive the option to join a savings group as an immediate solution, which provides a safe place to save and take out loans.

Since 2014 when the course was started, over 750 textile workers and 150 community members have graduated from the course.  The SolKomYo goal is to continue spreading financial literacy and security to all the workers and community members so that access to financial services is a reality for everyone. Our successes to date are thanks to the commitment and support of the Levi Strauss Foundation.

The Evolution of the Codevi Financial Literacy Trainers

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The 10 financial literacy trainers, with their blue lanyards that say “Konseye Edikasyon Finansye” (Financial Literacy Counselor). This allows other workers to identify the trainers so they can reach out to them for questions regarding their family finances and savings strategies.

The 10 Codevi financial literacy trainers continue to inspire change in their community. These 10 workers completed the first financial literary course in 2014, in 2015 participated in a series of trainings to become financial literacy trainers, and in 2016, graduated their own students from the course. This month, SolKomYo engaged them one step further, and now they will be helping communities put the saving strategies that they learned into practice by creating self-financed community banks. These banks are a safe, accessible space for community members to increase their savings and take out loans.

Some of the trainers leading their classes in financial literacy. Both Codevi workers and members from the community were invited to participate in the course.

We selected the trainers to begin setting up savings groups in their community. Before completing the training, all 10 decided to form a savings group themselves, naming themselves the Association of Young Workers. They decided all of the rules for their group, including the meeting place, the meeting time, the interest rate, and the amount of loans each member is permitted to take out. By having the group set the rules of the bank for themselves, a truly bottom up process empowers the group to be fully autonomous, allowing the bank to continue operating for the longterm without reliance on external support.

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During the savings group training, the trainers set the rules for their self-financed community bank.

Once the trainers thoroughly learn this process, they will begin to set up groups in their community and among financial literacy graduates from the course.

When we think about when SolKomYo first encountered the “Association of Young Workers” two years ago, the point of our interventions have come a long way. From a student, to a trainer, to now a savings group leader, these individuals have been empowered on many levels to become community change leaders and spread the knowledge and leadership they have gained during these programs. They continue to be very driven by what they have learned and are enthusiastic about the impact that financial literacy training has had on their family finances, as well as the impact it has had on the participants of the course.

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The trainers during the Financial Literacy Graduation in April 2016. They received certificates for the work that they accomplished.

Stay tuned- because the “Association of Young Workers”  is already asking about the possibility of being trained as SolKomYo Community Entrepreneurs!

 

 

Financial Literacy Graduation, April 2016 – Ceremony Report

With a cast of approximately 100 graduates , new coaches and guests, a member of CODEVI’s sustainability department, and a representative of CODEVI’s savings plan department, the graduation ceremony which was organized of the financial Literacy course held on April 16th 2016 was a truly momentous occasion for Solisyon Kominote Yo and CODEVI.

The day’s events, marked an extraordinary day for all concerned. Indeed, it was an absolute delight for the team of Solisyon Kominote Yo and CODEVI to see the successful results of several months of common efforts to manage to turn a team of 10 former graduates into excellent trainers. That group of men and women , who had been selected and trained in October 2015 made us feel very proud by demonstrating that they were able to share efficiently their previously gained knowledge with a group of CODEVI workers and some members of the neighboring community. Furthermore, we could feel that many of the trainers had developed a strong sense of team spirit and desire to make a valuable contribution to the emergence of a greater knowledge-based society in their country. In addition, we would like to congratulate all the CODEVI workers and members of the community who have showed a high level of commitment towards this course by attending each class with a spotless behavior and by doing their practical assignments which demonstrated their understanding of the new notions that they had gained.For many, the occasion was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they will never forget.

The ceremony included a few artistic activities performed by some graduates and local artist, resulting in a vibrant celebratory atmosphere. For the first time, the organizing team included a projection of pictures taken during the classroom sessions, which were displayed on a white projection screen.

Finally, the whole team of Solisyion Kominote Yo would like to give a special thanks to the LEVI STRAUSS Foundation for all its financial and moral support towards our work. The contribution of the LEVI STRAUSS Foundation enabled us to put together a team a trainers who worked hard towards expanding financial management skills throughout several of their family members, peers, friends and neighbors. Together we are empowering a large number of Haitians by giving them the tools to help themselves.

 

 

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.

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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

We won 1st place – Levi Strauss Foundation – Community Vote ’14

lsf_red_stacked_jpgWe want to share with you the exciting news that our work was voted number one by the Levi Strauss Foundation and LS&Co. during it’s Community Vote 2014. The competition is putting  employees of Levi’s in the position to chose to whom to award a $100,000 grand divided among three LSF community partners.

The foundation supports our work in Haiti and other organizations and community leaders from around the world working in the area of  HIV/AIDS prevention and human rights efforts to improving the lives of apparel workers in our supply chain to helping low-income families save for their future.

This year’s Community Vote first-prize winner was Community Enterprise Solutions (CES). Based near the CODEVI industrial park in Haiti, where LS&Co. manufactures products, CES is increasing knowledge of financial topics among workers and the community and provides access to cost-saving tools — such as solar-powered lamps, water filters and clean cook-stoves. Additionally, many workers are receiving incentives and opportunities to save through a factory-sponsored matched savings program.

This innovative project is part of LS&Co.’s Improving Workers Well-Being initiative, and powerfully illustrates how collaborative partnerships between brands, suppliers and local partners can help to improve the lives of the people who make our products. For its first-place finish, CES will receive a $50,000 grant.

We feel honored to be among the organizations nominated and winning the first place!  This reinforces that our work is valuable and needed. Together with LSF we will continue to  create positive change in Haitian communities. Thank you!