Why I became a School of Data Fellow - Pascale Elie

I remember receiving an email from the Haitian ICT Professionals Association (AHTIC)1 with the title “School of Data is recruiting new Fellows in Haiti”. I had never heard of School of Data before, and by scrolling down the email I noticed “Going Global: Digital Jobs and Gender in Haiti”. That was the catchy phrase. So I started digging.

I start reading about School of Data, the Fellowship and other programs of Open Knowledge Institute . I have always been engaged in sharing my knowledge with other, either as a university teacher, a workshop trainer, or in my day-to-day work. I work in digital financial services, and I get to discover financial literacy is lacking terribly, thereby I use data to sensitize, to reinforce theory about financials, and to empower others. So I was particularly interested in this pilot initiative that aims to train young Haitian women in the digital skills and data literacy that are needed for jobs in the digital economy. And because of that I apply to become a “Fellow of School of Data”.

Then I got to discover another aspect of the Fellowship, an opportunity that I’ve been looking for. I’m a statistician, as mentioned earlier I work in digital financial services, and data is my life. I am surrounded by financial information from the economical informal sector of Haiti, just because they have access to a digital tool that give a trace to all “informal financial transactions”. I use those data to design new adapted financial products, but I also share them with stakeholders so they can make a decision. Per example, I share my data with micro finance institutions so they can make better decision in managing micro loan. In a more interesting way, I share my data with groups of people willing to support each other through savings and loans2 . Usually it’s a group of economically vulnerable women leaving in the same community forming a group out of solidarity to help each other recapitalize and aim to a better life. Sharing data with them just became crucial, why? Because they take better decision for the group. Moreover, they are quite conscious of importance of data in what they are doing. This is were it clicked in my mind: “What if I could help them find their own information” to improve financial decisions.

My work as a Fellow is all about that: reinforce capacity so data can be collected, analyzed and presented for better decision-making. So far, my Fellowship is going well. I have a good participation of keys Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that willing to take part in that capacity building. And also that has a very important base of young women that benefit from their support and that are definitely capable of becoming competent for digital jobs and data literacy.

I am confident that the support Lyse3 and I are bringing to the Organizations will be a life changing opportunity, knowing that all we are in contact with know the importance of data, and open data.

By Pascale Elie
Project Manager at HaitiPay S.A. an FinTech company that provide digital payment solutions and Fellow of School of Data – 2017 in Haiti.

1 AHTIC : Association Haitienne des Professionnels en TIC / Haitian Association of Professional in ICT
2 Villagers Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings. The activities of the group run in cycles of one year, after which the accumulated savings and the loan profits are distributed back to members.The purpose of a VSLA is to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services. Sources : http://www.vsla.net/aboutus/vslmodel
3 Lyse Ladouceur, also Fellow of School of Data 2017 in Haiti