Life, lack and luck on $5 per day

July 12th 2011

According to Haitian law, all employees must pay their staff a minimum legal wage of $5 per day. This law was passed amidst great debate: Aristide wanted to it to be higher; businesses wanted it to be lower, and Préval eventually compromised on the current rate.

The minimum wage is supposed to provide security from the worst forms of exploitation and cover the most basic living expenses. It is supposed to be low enough for employees to hire more staff than they realistically need, thus keeping chronic and widespread unemployment under some rubric of control. 

Book review: Travesty in Haiti

June 7th 2011

Schwartz, Timothy T. 2008. Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Food Aid, Fraud and Drug Trafficking. ISBN 978-1-4196-9803-3.

I first heard of Timothy Schwartz's book, Travesty in Haiti, when I was on fieldwork in Port-au-Prince earlier this year. After reading a synopsis I was disinclined to read the book, thinking it sounded like the work of a soapbox-standing, diatribe-ranting guy with a personal vendetta that would contain little of balanced value. But my good friend Matthew Levasseur encouraged me to read it, and I'm glad I did. From the first pages, the book rings true with my own brief experience of Haiti.

Mobile money Haiti report online

May 17th 2011

After two months of research in Port-au-Prince, our report on Haiti's new mobile money services is available on the IMTFI website.

Building upon our previous research on domestic remittances and financial practices, we returned to Haiti from December to April to identify mobile money’s potentials and challenges given the specific characteristics of the mobile money services offered and the needs of the Haitian population.

This report presents our analysis of how the new mobile money services fit into Haiti's existing socioeconomic environment, and how customers are adapting and using the services. We identify six key insights and make recommendations for the development of mobile money in Haiti.

Me2Me mobile money transactions in Haiti

April 18th 2011

Mobile banking is commonly conceived of as a way for people to send money to each other (P2P) or to save money for a specific financial goal. However, we have found that the most common use of m-banking among early customers in Haiti is to store cash for a short period of time. Indeed, customers are registering for m-banking precisely for this purpose. Why are these 'Me2Me' transactions so popular, and how will they shape the future of mobile money? Our latest blog on the IMTFI website addresses these questions.