WASHINGTON (4/29/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) detailed for a House subcommittee their involvement in the Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains & Enterprises (HIFIVE) program, which “aims to stimulate the Haitian economy, improve the business environment and contribute to the sustainable and lasting development of Haitian enterprises, particularly in rural areas." The groups submitted a statement for the record of a hearing Wednesday on promoting small and micro enterprises in Haiti, conducted by the House Financial Services subcommittee on international monetary policy and trade. The HIFIVE Program supports agricultural development and “the use of technology to improve the efficiency and outreach” of local credit unions and microfinance institutions (MFIs). It provides technical training to micro, small and medium enterprises. HIFIVE also works to "improve the business environment and contribute to the sustainable and lasting development of Haitian enterprises, particularly in rural areas.” WOCCU has worked in Haiti since 2009 and stepped up its efforts following the January earthquake. In the prepared statement that was submitted for the official hearing record, CUNA and WOCCU recommended that legislators “support additional funding to rapidly stabilize and strengthen the microfinance sector” in Haiti by designing a “financial stabilization program that will overcome the financial distress of Haiti’s MFIs and credit unions without making them overly dependent on external aid.” HIFIVE also worked with WOCCU to assess the status of Haitian MFIs and credit unions following the quake. Those assessments found that those institutions were most in need of “increased liquidity and recapitalization.” They were hard hit by the “increased magnitude of individual loan defaults caused by death and loss of jobs/businesses, increased volume of client requests for loans to rebuild homes/businesses over longer periods of time,” and the significant amount of savings that members withdrew to “address immediate short-term household and business needs.” The institutions were also in need of basic construction help to deal with the physical impact of the earthquake, and CUNA and WOCCU in closing said that they would “welcome the opportunity to continue to meet with the committee to explore how to best support microfinance and microenterprise development to promote rebuilding and long-term economic growth” in Haiti. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica and a number of credit union representatives recently returned from Haiti, where they studied the credit union movement in Haiti and discussed how WOCCU and the global credit union community can best help the country rebuild, using strengths inherent in credit unions' financial cooperative structure. For the full CUNA/WOCCU statement, as presented to the subcommittee on Wednesday, and recent News Now coverage of Mica's Haiti trip, use the resource link.