Zafèn: About Us: (From the Zafen Website) https://www.zafen.org/en/about
“In 2009, the international leadership of the Vincentian Family, which encompasses all those who find inspiration from the life and the legacy of St. Vincent de Paul, joined Haitian microfinance institution Fonkoze to initiate a pilot project that would enable people worldwide to loan or donate to businesses in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest on earth.
This Web site was launched in 2010 to commemorate the lives and works of St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) and St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660), two individuals who dedicated their lives to serving people living in poverty . On the 350th anniversary of their deaths, Zafèn was established with the objective of having a positive impact on Haiti’s economic, social and physical environment by providing micro, small and medium sized enterprises with enhanced access to capital. Zafèn strives to achieve this aim through:
- Showcasing business projects that have been subject to a due diligence pre-screen for community impact;
- Providing online access through a secure, easy and reliable mechanism for reviewing and selecting profiles for loans or donations;
- Offering Haitian entrepreneurs micromentoring opportunities through which to nurture their ideas toward sustainability and, ultimately, self-sufficiency.”
About Zafen: (From the Zafen Website) https://www.zafen.org/en/about/faq
What is Zafèn?
Zafèn is an online environment that allows lenders and donors to access both for-profit and non-profit business projects that have been reviewed by the Zafèn Steering Committee. Survey data demonstrates that electronic access is in significant demand. Moreover, having the potential to create opportunities for the poor, these projects will also contribute to a database of SME demographics that does not exist yet in Haiti. As such, Zafèn, in showcasing projects by industry sector, business experience, and region, will be a valuable asset for Haiti.
What does “Zafèn” mean?
The word “Zafèn” means “It’s our business” in Haitian Creole. It was developed to stimulate collaboration between Haitian business owners, the Haitian Diaspora, friends of Haiti and others who wish to be involved in the development of Haiti’s economy in the short-term and a sustainable future.
Who is involved in Zafèn? Who is on the Zafèn Steering Committee? Does Zafèn have alliances or allegiances with organizations beyond the partners listed?
Briefly, Zafèn is a collaboration between:
· The Worldwide Vincentian Family, an assembly of organizations, comprising more than 1 million members, including the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity, with roots in the life and works of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, both of whom encouraged individuals and set up institutions to serve the poorest of the poor.
· DePaul University, the eighth largest private, non-profit university in the United States, the nation's largest university with a primary mission of teaching and service, and the largest Catholic institution of higher education in America.
· Fonkoze - Haiti, Haiti’s largest micro-finance organization whose mission is to build the economic and social foundation for democracy in Haiti by providing the rural poor–mostly women–with the tools they need to lift themselves from poverty. Based in Port-au-Prince, Fonkoze is national in scope, with more than 40 branches throughout Haiti, offering a full range of financial services to those living in poverty, and currently reaching more than 225,000 savers and borrowers.
· Fonkoze USA, a U.S. non-profit 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to securing financial and technical support for Fonkoze (Haiti). It educates the American public about Fonkoze’s work in Haiti, facilitates technical assistance for Fonkoze, and raises money to support its programs.
· The Haitian Hometown Associations Resource Group, (the “Resource Group,” RG) is comprised of 10 leaders and representatives of the Federations in New York, Boston, Miami and cities in France and Canada. It exists to strengthen community development projects in Haiti to foster economic and social growth with the aim of alleviating poverty. To achieve this objective, it trains non-profit organizations concerned with Haiti in grant-writing, financial literacy, project development and project implementation; raises funds and distributes grants for projects created by Haitian Hometown Associations and other organizations that benefit the communities of Haiti; and facilitates information sharing within the Haitian Diaspora and beyond about the need for support and charitable projects underway in Haiti.
The Zafèn Steering Committee is comprised of representatives of each of the above organizations, as well as others contributing business, commercial and non-profit expertise.
Who created Zafèn?
Representatives of the Haitian Diaspora approached Fonkoze about helping to set up a Web site that would allow Haitian expatriates to make more effective investment decisions. Fonkoze shared this possibility with the Vincentian Family, who had approached with a partnership to create an online microfinance opportunity to support those living in poverty.
How does Zafèn choose the projects included on Zafen.org?
Zafèn accepts applications directly from enterprises through e-mail, online through www.Zafen.org or at Fonkoze satellite offices throughout Haiti. Submitters are contacted within approximately seven days to set up a personal visit from a business enterprise analyst who will complete a project and business profile. The visit is expected to take up to one day.
At the time of the visit, the borrower will be encouraged to establish a Fonkoze account. It is through the Fonkoze account that the borrower or beneficiary of a donation can receive the contributions. Under any circumstances, an account must be in place prior to posting the project online.
There is a thorough vetting process for each applicant project to ensure it meets the following criteria:
· Potential for job creation
· Potential for poverty alleviation
· Commitment to sound principles of business ethics
· Demonstration of value added for the community, either socially or economically
· Potential for replication
· Demonstration of prior results (when available)
Zafen Projects (Loans):
(Note: The above is just an introduction to Zafen. All of the above information is on the Zafen website and was taken from the Zafen website. The website has much more detailed information for anyone interested in knowing more about Zafen and for those interested in lending via Zafen.)
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A match is currently in progress! For every $1.00 you contribute to selected projects, before 04/08/2011, The Vincentian Family will contribute $1.00!
A few of my favorite projects are these:
Business Expansion for and Agricultural Store and Veterinarian Clinic: https://www.zafen.org/en/projects/556
Farmer Training and Crop Diversification Program: https://www.zafen.org/en/projects/375
Expansion of the Coffee Industry in the Beaumont Area: https://www.zafen.org/en/projects/334
More projects are listed here:
The funds match runs from April 1, 2011 (today) through April 8, 2011.
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Does Entrepreneurship Drive Economic Growth?
by Eva Pereira, April 25, 2011
"In countries with high structural unemployment, entrepreneurship has less of an impact on growth than development economists previously thought. In Haiti, where 75% of the population is unemployed, people turn to entrepreneurship as a last resort. In Port-au-Prince and throughout the country, the term “entrepreneur” has a different meaning than it does in the developed world. Entrepreneurship is borne out of necessity, not the desire to act on business opportunities.
In the absence of a formal economy, Haitians become “necessity” entrepreneurs and must take to the streets and markets to earn their living. The road outside of Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint Louverture airport is lined with salesmen pushing a variety of products, from loaves of bread to toiletries. Children sell sugar cane, produce, and potable water while women walk from market to market selling products along the way. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a non-profit research organization, economic growth is not driven by these “necessity” entrepreneurs, who decrease in number as the economy develops. The key to fostering growth is to support “opportunity” entrepreneurs, who choose to start new enterprises in response to market needs.
The microfinance community, which loans to millions of entrepreneurs worldwide in an effort to alleviate poverty and promote growth in developing countries, would be wise to note the distinction between “necessity” and “opportunity” entrepreneurs. To drive economic growth, microfinance institutions should allocate more of their financial resources to individuals pursuing “opportunity” ventures, since they ultimately fulfill market needs and create jobs.
Anne Hastings, CEO of Haiti’s largest microfinance institution Fonkoze, believes that the key to driving economic growth in the country is to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) — an offshoot of “opportunity” entrepreneurs. Hastings says that jobs in most developing countries come from the SME sector, but that the sector faces major funding challenges. She describes SMEs as the “missing middle”: too “up-market” for microfinance lenders, and too “down-market” to secure loans from commercial banks. In an effort to bolster this job-producing sector, Fonkoze has now begun to offer larger loans of $10,000 or more. Last April, Fonkoze helped launch Zafen.org, a social lending site that helps links Haitian SMEs with donors.
Hastings says that beyond lending to SMEs, improvements in infrastructure and governance are essential for Haiti’s economic growth. “Infrastructure is a huge impediment to the agriculture industry,” she says. “Somewhere around 60% of exportable crop doesn’t get exported because of bad roads.” She adds that unreliable electricity and Internet connectivity are also problems, in addition to a shortage of skilled labor.
For Haiti and other developing countries, entrepreneurship alone cannot fuel economic growth. Haiti’s new president, Michel Martelly, has called for an injection of private local and foreign investment into the country and has designs on rebuilding the agriculture and tourism industries. Whether growth or stagnation lies ahead for the battered nation remains to be seen, but its success will depend a great deal on the promotion of “opportunity” entrepreneurship, infrastructure and good governance."
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by Julie Moksim, April 13, 2011
Zafen, a microfinance initiative that was created to help businesses and provide educational scholarships in Haiti, recently announced that it raised USD 350,000 in interest-free loans and donations during its first year of operations. Approximately 536 projects have been funded by Zafen with loans ranging from USD 75 to USD 5,250. In order to receive loans, businesses must demonstrate how they will have a positive impact on their community. Projects are listed at https://www.zafen.org/projects. In addition to supporting entrepreneurs and farmers, Zafen offers donors the opportunity to fund scholarships for children.
Zafen was founded by the International Vincentian Family, an assembly of people that are affiliated with organizations that support the teachings of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac; DePaul University, a Catholic university in Chicago, Illinois, USA; Fonkoze, a financial organization that serves poor people in Haiti; and the Haitian Hometown Associations Resource Group, a group that promotes social and economic development in Haitian communities.
By Julie Moksim, Research Associate
About Zafen: Zafen was founded in 2010 by International Vincentian Family, an assembly of people that are affiliated with organizations that support the teachings of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac; DePaul University, a Catholic university in Chicago, USA; Fonkoze, a financial organization that serves poor people in Haiti; and the Haitian Hometown Associations Resource Group, a group that promotes social and economic development in Haitian communities. For the twelve months ending April 2011, the program funded approximately 536 scholarships and business projects in Haiti with USD 350,000 in interest-free loans and donations.
Sources and Additional Resources:
Zafen Press Release: “Zafèn Microfinance Program for Haitian Entrepreneurs Marks 1st Anniversary; Raised $350,000 in Interest-free Loans & Donations in First Year”, Information provided to MicroCapital by Zafen
MicroCapital.org Brief, October 8, 2010: Online Microfinance Program Zafen Raises $140,000 For Haiti in First Six Months of Operations, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-online-microfinance-program-zafen-raises-140000-for-haiti-in-first-six-months-of-operation/
MicroCapital’s Microfinance Universe Profile: Zafen Microfinance
MicroCapital’s Microfinance Universe Profile: Fonkoze
Article here: http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-zafen-of-haiti-raises-350k-for-microfinance-scholarships-during-inaugural-year/
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