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On the road, sharing good news about Haiti

Haiti, October 11, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    courtesy of Clinton Global Initiative  </span>
    (From left to right) Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter; Mercy Corps President Nancy Lindborg; and Trilogy International Partners Chairman John Stanton at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City. Photo: courtesy of Clinton Global Initiative

For the past two weeks or so, I’ve been on the road between New York and Washington, DC, attending meetings, conferences and learning events, as well as spending time with our partners and key Mercy Corps staff.

As Mercy Corps Haiti's economic recovery program manager, one of my main areas of focus these last several months has been implementing a pilot program where we used mobile phones to get emergency funds into the hands of earthquake-affected families in Haiti's Central Plateau. We successfully completed this pilot in early September with our partners Trilogy International Partners/Voilà and Unibank. (The press release is available on our website here.)

That's when I hit the road — wanting to share our progress with other innovators working in the field and learn about their work.

A few events particularly stand out in my mind from this busy trip, like participating in the Mobile Tech Salon: Women and Mobile Phones in New York organized by MobileActive.org, a global network of people using mobile technology for social impact. I took much pride in “speed-geeking” (the same concept as speed-dating but discussing technology issues) about how we have helped create female mobile money pioneers through our cash-for-work program.

Sitting at the FS Share Branchless Banking and Mobile Money Interventions presentations — a knowledge sharing event organized by Chemonics in their DC office — I was once more inspired by the potential of mobile banking technology to foster economic growth and financial inclusion in developing countries. I felt renewed confidence that our hard work to lay the foundation for mobile banking in Haiti is paving the way for better tomorrows for the people there.

The highlight of my trip remains, however, our featured commitment to action at the Clinton Global Initiative. Mercy Corps President Nancy Lindborg and Trilogy International Partners Chairman John Stanton presented our commitment, "Mobile Money: Financial Inclusion for Haiti's Recovery." John Stanton also took part in the panel discussion, next to such distinguished guests as Cherie Blair — Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and former Queen’s Counsel — and Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. (The webcast can be viewed here.)

Having now returned to Haiti, I am thrilled to rejoin my colleagues, some of the most dedicated development professionals one can find. We continue to industriously work on youth development and psychosocial support, water and sanitation in the camps, and initiating rural development in the provinces. We have so much more work to do, but we can be proud of the progress we've already made so far.