Some staggering statistics were presented on March 26 at Fordham’s second annual Migration and Microfinance Research Conference, a research-centered conference co-sponsored by the Graduate School for Arts and Sciences’ Center for international Policy Studies (CIPS).
Jovis Wolfe Bellot, Ph.D., GSAS ’02, a consultant for Haiti’s central bank and a professor of economics at State University of Haiti, said that remittances from migrant workers living abroad made up 25 percent of the Haitian GDP in 2009. Some 1.1 million Haitians receive remittances on a regular basis, amounting to $1.6 billion last year.
With no economic opportunity, no social system, and no access to credit, those remittances are now, more than ever, critical to the nation’s recovery following the January earthquake, he said.
“Families with remittances enjoy a better life,” said Bellot. “My point is that in a time of crisis, remittance flows are a lifeline, a safety net.” Bellot made his presentation from hand-written notes instead of a powerpoint; both the central bank and his university were damaged in the quake.
The daylong conference looked at remittances and microfinance in several developing nations, and also offered for sale Fair Trade jewelry and soapstone carvings made by Kenyan-owned small businesses. The women-run businesses received microfinance loans from Fordham business students, and all items are available for purchase on campus through Kate Combellick, Ph.D., assistant professor of business and director of International Service Learning.