Drawing Strength from the Community - A Fund to Support Haitian Entrepreneurs

MONTREAL, Jan. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - To support the Haitian economy in its recovery, the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Line Beauchamp, on behalf of the Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, announced today, in the presence of Anne Gaboury, President and CEO of Développement international Desjardins (DID), and Emmanuel Dubourg, Member for Viau and coordinator of government action in support of the Haitian community, the creation of a fund of $100 million to be managed by DID and its partner in Haiti, the Le Levier federation of financial cooperatives. 

The primary objective of this fund is to enhance the Haitian cooperatives' ability to act as an economic driver and to have a positive impact on the country's development. The MRI fund will finance the start-up and recovery of revenue-generating activities in the private sector.

"We in Québec have forged close, privileged ties with the Haitian people. Since the earthquake, our government has taken emergency measures to come to the aid of the population. The purpose of today's announcement is to support Haiti's necessary economic recovery by backing the projects of small and mid-sized businesses, and by enabling thousands of families to quickly get back on track through tangible and direct forms of assistance. This is another of the Québec government's gestures of solidarity toward the Haitian community, and I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Desjardins Group in implementing the measure we are announcing today," stated Beauchamp.

This investment follows in the wake of our government's strong commitment following this earthquake, which deeply touched the people of Québec. "Haiti was already a priority for our government's international activities. For more than a decade now, Haiti has been the primary beneficiary of the Québec International Development Program, under which we have provided support to over one hundred projects," affirmed Dubourg.

In Haiti, the average small business loan granted by the cooperatives belonging to the Le Levier federation is C$1,500. Each of these loans helps create or secure an average of four jobs. The MRI's contribution will support more than 1,000 companies, thus guaranteeing jobs for more than 4,500 families throughout Haiti.

"This fund will enable the cooperatives of the Le Levier federation to even better meet the needs of their members and above all, to support the recovery of the Haitian economy by lending a hand to small businesses, which are drivers of wealth creation," stated Ms. Gaboury.

DID has been helping build up and develop caisses in Haiti for more than 15 years.

This financial support for the Le Levier federation complements a string of activities initiated by Desjardins Group to support its partner following the earthquake that occurred in January 2010. Fundraising initiatives among Desjardins officers and employees raised more than $1 million to help rebuild the Le Levier federation network.

About Développement international Desjardins
Développement international Desjardins (DID) is a component of Desjardins Group. For 40 years now it has supported the creation, development and strengthening of financial institutions in over twenty five countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Specialized in providing technical support and investment for the community finance sector, DID draws on the rich and diverse experience acquired through collaboration with numerous partners, and on the 110 years of experience of Desjardins Group, the largest cooperative financial group in Canada. (www.did.qc.ca/en)

About the Le Levier federation in Haiti
With assets of more than C$63 million, the Le Levier federation works with 50 base cooperatives and 23 service outlets, located throughout the country's 10 departments. In Haiti, these savings and loan co-operatives have 340,000 members and clients, made up of both families and business owners. Given the total number of people reached by the network, we estimate that more than 20% of Haitian citizens benefit directly or indirectly from the services of these cooperatives.  Women account for more than 40% of members and clients of the co-ops.  A dozen co-ops and service outlets are located in the zone affected by the earthquake on January 12, 2010. To learn more, visit the Haiti section of the DID Web site at www.did.qc.ca/en/projets/haiti/.

SOURCE DESJARDINS GROUP

For further information:

(for journalists only):
Caroline Phémius
Media Relations Advisor
Desjardins Group
514-281-7000 or 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7646
caroline.phemius@desjardins.com

Geneviève Villemure-Denis
Press Attaché
Cabinet of the Minister of International Relations and
Minister responsible for La Francophonie
418-649-2319

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