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Helping rebuild economy two years after devastating quake

Haiti, January 11, 2012

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Efforts focus on creating economic opportunities and building stronger communities for long-term recovery

Two years after a massive earthquake decimated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Mercy Corps continues helping Haitians to recover and rebuild by creating economic opportunities to help lift people out of poverty, and establishing programs focusing on agriculture, environment and youth.

Over the course of two years, Mercy Corps programs have improved the lives of 1.1 million Haitians and continue to support rebuilding efforts. Immediately after the earthquake, Mercy Corps rushed supplies to meet urgent needs for food, water and shelter. The organization also created temporary jobs as well as provided psychosocial support and cholera prevention and treatment information.

“January 12th is a day we will never forget, and we remain as committed to helping Haitians rebuild their country as the day we arrived,” said Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer. “We are collaborating with local communities to help them move forward, and develop solutions that will address the root causes of poverty and achieve lasting, sustainable change.”

In a country where small-scale entrepreneurs are the cornerstone of the local economy, small businesses are key to Haiti’s long-term recovery. Mercy Corps is providing entrepreneurs with skills and support to build businesses by introducing MicroMentor, an online mentoring platform that matches Haitian entrepreneurs with skilled business volunteers both locally and from around the globe. The program has helped 220 Haitian entrepreneurs build successful businesses, such as bakeries and fashion lines, and continues to make new connections.

Mercy Corps also partnered with local microfinance institute Fonkoze to cofound the Microinsurance Catastrophe Risk Organisation (MiCRO), an innovative microinsurance entity that offers coverage against natural disasters. Insuring small business owners provides a critical safety net so that, when disaster strikes, they can quickly recover and keep working to grow their enterprises. Already, a total of 5,385 Fonkoze borrowers across Haiti received $1.5 million in insurance benefits during the 2011 hurricane season.

“A functioning economy is key to Haiti’s long-term recovery,” explained Mercy Corps Country Director John Hanson. “Jobs are the most viable way for people to provide basic necessities for their families, so it is crucial that we do everything we can to help accelerate economic growth.”

Mercy Corps is continuing to bolster the rural economy and create new opportunities for local families. The organization is helping farmers earn more for their crops by teaching skills needed to turn subsistence farms into profitable businesses and reduce significant postharvest losses. Mercy Corps is also tackling major environmental issues while creating jobs by working with charcoal producers to better cultivate their land and establish alternative fuel sources.

Looking ahead, Mercy Corps plans to engage Haiti’s future generation of leaders in the long-term recovery process. Building on the agency’s extensive youth program that has helped over 90,000 young Haitians strengthen their resilience, communication and leadership skills, Mercy Corps launched Soccer for Life. This sport-for-change program leverages the power of soccer to improve lives and bring awareness to HIV prevention. The organization is also teaching youth to use creative expression to transform their communities through a combination of art therapy, storytelling and photography.

Further information on Mercy Corps’ work in Haiti, including a copy of the two-year report, can be found at www.mercycorps.org/haitiupdate.