Listening to recent podcasts on Haiti from NPR’s Planet Money, I started thinking about the large impact that something very little can have.
The first story involved a small loan through which a Haitian woman had created a “consignment” business. With $5000 Haitian dollars ($600 US) of micro credit, she purchased items at the Dominican Republic border. Then, transporting the goods by bus, she brought them to Haitian shopkeepers. Fifteen days later, the shopkeepers paid her. Until the earthquake destroyed her customers’ inventory, her business was successful.
The second story was about the difference a small plastic crate could make. If Haiti produced more mangoes, the U.S. would buy them. Haiti’s mango growers are small farmers, each with three or four trees. If a farmer piles mangoes outdoors and it rains, the fruit gets damaged. If the ride from the farm is too bumpy, more damage. Because of damage, forty percent of Haiti’s mango crop is unusable. Not as simple as it sounds, the solution is to put the mangoes in crates.
The Economic Life
Muhammad Yunus and the bank he founded won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. An economics professor and a Bangladeshi banker, Dr. Yunus developed the concept of microcredit.