Seven years ago, UW Madison grad student Gergens Polynice departed his Port Au Prince home to return to Madison just hours before a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the Island of Haiti. Polynice’s family survived, but Polynice noticed that traditional relief agencies, like the Red Cross, were focused on immediate disaster aid. No one at the time was working to help rebuild Haiti’s economy or get small businesses back on their feet. That’s when Polynice and his fellow students hit on the idea of creating a revolving fund to finance small loans directly to Haitians to create sustainable businesses.
Since then, the nonprofit Wisconsin Microfinance has grown from $3,000 in pooled donations, to fund over 1,000 projects in Haiti and has recently expanded to new operations in the Philippines. Jane McCurry is an undergraduate student at UW Madison majoring in Operations and Technology Management and Environmental Studies and she is the current Executive Director of Wisconsin Microfinance. Jane joins Eight O’Clock Buzz host Brian Standing by phone.