the mif blog

Stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and organizations, discussion and commentary of new trends in private sector development, and the latest events and publications.

CMF VI food for thought: Carib-Cap III and other ideas about future microfinance development in the Caribbean

By Ryan Tang

Panelists share lessons learned from Carib-Cap

During the second session of the Caribbean Microfinance Forum VI (CMF VI), one of the panelists, Curven Whyte, Microfinance Coordinator of a major Jamaican credit union, cited the growth in the industry brought about by the Caribbean Microfinance Capacity Building projects (Carib-Cap) I and II and called for a Carib-Cap III. The audience applauded and I couldn’t help but smile because at the CMF last year, the donors—MIF included—had said they would continue supporting microfinance in the Caribbean but not through a regional, multi-donor Carib-Cap III project. Nevertheless, throughout the remainder of the CMF VI, calls for a Carib-Cap III resounded and it became evident that many microfinance stakeholders thought Carib-Cap I and II had accomplished a lot but that need for additional support remained in the Caribbean.

Building up biz in the Caribbean: investigating demand for microcredit

By Ryan Tang

Despite efforts from microfinance practitioners and donors to develop microfinance in the Caribbean, uptake of formal microcredit has lagged behind expectations in some cases. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence indicates that many microentrepreneurs continue to use informal financing alternatives, such as rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), moneylenders, and supplier credit. This raises important questions about the potential for microfinance in the Caribbean. Why do some microentrepreneurs still turn to informal mechanisms instead of formal microcredit to finance their business? What characteristics of financing are most important to Caribbean microentrepreneurs? 

Recognizing excellence in Caribbean microfinance

By Ryan Tang

A Microfinance Start-up Becomes Front-runner, Client Protection, and ‘Very, Very Good Sauce’

On the evening of October 31, 2013, microfinance stakeholders from around the Caribbean gathered at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica to participate in the second annual Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean, sponsored by Citi Foundation and the Multilateral Investment Fund under the auspices of the Caribbean Microfinance Capacity-Building Project II. The Excellence in Microentrepreneurship in Suriname award was presented to Mr. Jurgen Boodie, owner of Restaurant JiJi’s, the Excellence in Microfinance Product Innovation award was won by Access Financial Services in Jamaica, and La Inmaculada Credit Union in Belize emerged as the winner of the Excellence in Microfinance Transparency award. As a few of the speakers noted, there is something special about gathering microfinance stakeholders in one place and recognizing the accomplishments of the best.

Solar energy in Haiti’s central plateau

By Ryan Tang

Haiti faces a widespread lack of access to the electricity grid. Fewer than 1 in 6 Haitians have electricity, and those that are connected to the grid must deal with power outages that often occur several times a day. Outside of the cities, the situation is even worse and rural homes, schools, farms and businesses, which are already poorer than their urban counterparts, must either get by without electricity or pay prohibitively high energy costs.

Supported by donor funding, the Solar Electric Light Fund, has installed solar energy systems in 20 schools, a fish farm and 2 agricultural farms in rural Haiti over the last two years in an effort to help address the rural energy problem. In April the MIF team met with SELF’s Haiti Project Manager Jean-Baptiste Certain, to see SELF’s systems in action in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

Building better buildings in Port-au-Prince

By Ryan Tang

Steel rebar protruded up from the tops of walls and homes we passed during our drive through Port-au-Prince, repeatedly giving me the impression that the builder had stopped short, unable to decide if they should more. It was my first time visiting Haiti two weeks ago and within the first 30 minutes traversing the city, the prevalence of concrete construction, of varying quality, quickly became apparent to me. A few days later we visited the plant of KayTek, a company that is challenging concrete as the norm in building by introducing Light Gauge Steel (LGS) to the market. Adam King, Executive Director, stated that LGS buildings can be constructed significantly faster and with better quality—including earthquake and hurricane resistance—for a comparable price.