Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti: Update on Kiva Field Partner Esperanza

As you may have seen in the news, a terrible earthquake struck Haiti yesterday afternoon. The earthquake, 7.0 in magnitude, struck about 10 miles outside Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The devastation has been enormous, with many buildings destroyed and thousands of people presumed dead. This is the worst earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years.

Kiva currently supports borrowers in Haiti through our field partner, Esperanza International. Esperanza is based in the Dominican Republic, but has an office and provides loans in Haiti. About 1/3 of the loans Esperanza posts to Kiva are for borrowers in Haiti. In addition, a large percentage of the loans posted from the Dominican Republic are of Haitian migrants who still have family in Haiti. Esperanza has told us that as of now, Esperanza staff are safe though they have several employees with family in Port-au-Prince who have not been able to contact their families and are very concerned. Esperanza’s clients are located in the North, while the earthquake struck the capital in the south. Most of their clients live close to their offices in the north. However, many of them have businesses that require them to travel to and from Port-au-Prince to buy merchandise to sell in the main markets. Their businesses may have been affected and it is possible that some of them may have been in Port-au-Prince at the time and been injured.

It is impossible for Esperanza to give us any exact figures at this time as information is only slowly trickling out of Haiti. As Kiva learns more about the effect of the earthquake on Esperanza and their Kiva borrowers we will update lenders.

In the meantime, if you are looking for ways to help, you can refer to this link from the BBC on how to help