Zafèn raises capital for 30 women-owned businesses affected by earthquake
Funds come from UNDP, Vincentian Family, and the Haitian diaspora
During the month of September, Zafèn, a program run by Fonkoze and a crowd-funding portal for socially responsible Haitian entrepreneurs and other Haiti supporters, fully funded the budget needs of 30 women-run businesses devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Noticeably, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Vincentian Family, the friends of Haiti and the Haitians around the world were all significant contributors to the cause. The UNDP contribution of $40,000----half of the total amount raised---- was a donation from the Korean Millennium Development Goals (MDG) fund. With the prospect to re-invest all the injected funds, the impact will be long lasting in meeting future opportunities.
Thanks to this capital injection, these female Haitian entrepreneurs, for the most part located in working-class neighborhoods around Port-au-Prince, can start buying new equipment and hiring more employees. Zafèn expects these 30 businesses to create 150 jobs, improving 150 families' economic prospects.
- Élegance Caribéenne, a sewing shop, will benefit from new materials and reopen its dressmaking activities. The shop will hire eight women trained in sewing techniques, increasing the quantity of products to sell to retailers.
- JHASS-K, a cosmetic store, will develop more natural products, which will create 10 jobs and will encourage the involvement of farmers in the production process.
- Main dans la Main Poissonerie, a seafood business, will increase its capacity by renewing its equipment to respond to the market's demand and increase their storage capacity.
Fonkoze business analysts and Zafèn's sponsors thoroughly evaluated each business before qualifying it to receive loan capital. Now those same business analysts are mobilizing to help these companies to execute their plans to grow and expand.
"Zafèn, with the blessings of key sponsors, has helped everyone to set the goal on top of a mountain and for us to climb higher as a team," said Eddy Lahens, an avid supporter and motivated investor of Zafèn. "The goal was to do within one month what has not been done before. The focus was on a group of growth drivers and real wealth producers across Haiti: women entrepreneurs. We Haitians have a saying: dèyè mòn, toujou gen mòn (there are always mountains beyond mountains). We just tackled one; let's tackle another one."
Zafèn, which means "It's our business" in Haitian Creole, was established to stimulate collaboration between Haiti-based business owners, the Haitian Diaspora and caring people everywhere interested in developing the Haitian economy. Zafèn, a project of Fonkoze, accomplishes its mission by presenting businesses and projects to the public that have been screened for their potential viability and likelihood of contributing to Haitian economic empowerment. Due diligence is conducted by Fonkoze business analysts, an alternative bank for the poor with offices across Haiti. The analysts submit the proposals to a committee, which includes representatives of Zafèn's partners, for final evaluation. Approved projects are posted at zafen.org to attract funding. Zafèn users select the business or project they want to support and make loans or donations as small as $25.
UNDP is currently supporting the Haitian Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce in the development of public policies to promote women's economic empowerment. UNDP seeks to ensure that the reconstruction process and the corresponding economic opportunities are inclusive, beneficial to all women and men of Haiti and are supportive of MDG commitments in order accelerate poverty reduction. Women and girls must benefit from the increased training, entrepreneurial and employment opportunities of the reconstruction process which will eventually lead to an increase in income. By combining capacity development efforts at the National Government level and promoting partnerships, knowledge management and linkages between actions from NGOs, private sector and academic circles, UNDP seeks to develop a sustainable strategy for women's economic empowerment.