The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the streets of a Port-au-Prince community is now a daily occurrence thanks to the efforts of residents and the British Red Cross.
For 2.5 gourdes (3p), locals can buy freshly baked rolls from the new bakery in Cité 4, one of four areas within the suburb of Delmas 19.
But access to fresh bread in this corner of the Haitian capital wasn’t always this easy.
Last year the British Red Cross launched a credit scheme aimed at creating easier access to small loans with a view to helping the community start new businesses, generate jobs and improve their skills.
The mutual solidarity programme involves a group of 15-35 people, living in the same community, who come together to save and manage a loan fund within their group.
One of these groups, Inite (United), decided to invest the credit from the Red Cross into a project that would help the whole community.
Realising how difficult it was to buy bread in Cité 4, Inite’s 22 members came up with the idea of starting a bakery, much to the delight of the wider community.
“This is one of the most efficient initiatives ever carried out in the area,” said Dubreus Rezilus, president of Inite.
“Families living in Delmas 19 can now find what they need to eat close to where they live.”
‘Dream come true’
The group’s members contributed 500 gourdes (£7) each to buy the materials they needed to start the bakery.
They bought an oven, a mill and made shelves for storing materials and stock. When it came to finding a site for the bakery, a member of Inite offered up his house.
With advice and support from the Red Cross, they were able to “make the dream come true”, according to Dubreus.
By 8 January this year, they had used seven 50kg bags of flour and produced nearly 1,400 bread rolls in just under a month of trading.
Inite’s members buy the bread and sell it door-to-door, keeping the profits, while customers also come to the house to buy bread. The bakery has created two new jobs in Cité 4.
The bakery’s owners plan to meet every six months to discuss turnover and to decide how to use any profits.
In addition, members also make a daily contribution of 100 gourdes (£1.40) to an emergency fund, which is used for unexpected expenses such as medical bills.
Reaping the benefits
“The British Red Cross really encourages these initiatives,” said Gas Saint Louis, Red Cross microfinance manager.
“We are trying to help the community improve its own living conditions. They are given a start-up loan and trained on how to do good business.
“We hope that they continue to have confidence in each other to work and plan together long-term, reaping the benefits from the bakery.”
When the Red Cross started the small loans programme in Delmas 19 last year, it was difficult for people to understand the importance of the initiative.
A few months later, Inite members are very proud of the programme.
“Now Cité 4 has its own bakery and families don’t have to walk fifteen minutes to go to buy bread outside the area,” said Mariélène Destin, a member of Inite.
“Our rolls cost 2.5 gourdes (3p), half the price you pay outside the area.”
The British Red Cross has reached nearly 2,000 people through its livelihoods recovery work.