How giving someone a fish puts more fish in the sea

We usually assume that giving out food stamps is "giving a man a fish." But what impact do you think it has on the market?

For a cash transfer of $25 a month that goes to the poorest people, Haiti has learned you can transform a market. To use an overworked metaphor, we don’t just give a family a fish—we’re literally putting more fish in the sea (and jobs in the market). 96% of businesses in the program are seeing higher profits, 43% of farmers are increasing their productivity, and 61% of farmers have hired more labor—creating jobs the Haitian economy desperately needs.

With the support of USAID’s Food for Peace, and in partnership with WFP, ACF, World Vision, and the Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, CARE’s Kore Lavi program is transforming markets in Haiti.

What have we accomplished?

  • More profitable businesses: 96% of fresh food vendors saw their profits increased, and 32% said that they doubled or higher. Staple food vendors saw a 4-5 times improvement in working capital (up to $4,500).
  • Better, more diverse food: 92% of vendors have increased the quantity of stock they keep, and 76% purchase food more often from local and regional markets. 44% of vendors are stocking more diverse commodities than before.
  • More businesses, more producers: 56% of vendors see that they have seen new sellers enter the market to sell more diverse, local commodities. 55% of farmers say that they’ve seen more people investing in farming, or in new crops so they can source to Kore Lavi vendors.
  • More jobs: 43% of fresh food vendors and 61% of food producers have hired additional labor to help with their businesses—creating needed jobs in the community.
  • Healthier families: 72% of fresh food vendors use their extra resources to feed their families, and 24% are using the profits to send their kids to school.
  • More, better production: 43% of food producers said they have increased their production to respond to market demand. 57% have diversified their crops to cover items in the food basket. 66% of farmers say that it’s easier to sell their produce than it was before the program.

How did we get there?

  • Increase demand: Kore Lavi provides families vouchers of $25 a month to the most vulnerable households in Haiti so they can meet 20% of their monthly food needs. They take these vouchers to local vendors, who then sell local products.
  • Promoting local products: The vouchers can only be used for local foods, so this promotes production. 58% of staple vendors and 96% of fresh food vendors buy in their local markets. 50% of staple food vendors sometimes buy in regional markets when products are less accessible.
  • Using VSLAs to access credit: 38% of fresh food vendors and 50% of staple vendors are using credit from VSLAs to expand their business.

Want to learn more?

Check out the market analysis here. Or look at the project webpage