News / Americas

Clicking for a Cause

New website makes it easier to donate directly to specific Haiti reconstruction projects

Concrete blocks transformed into livestock pens on the organic farm in Haiti that Boston physician Arielle Adrien helps support.
Concrete blocks transformed into livestock pens on the organic farm in Haiti that Boston physician Arielle Adrien helps support.

Multimedia

Audio
Emma Jacobs

A new website makes it easier for the Haitian diaspora in the United States to help fund the reconstruction of their homeland following January's devastating earthquake.

Zafen.org connects projects in Haiti with individual and institutional sources of funding. Zafèn means 'It's our business' in Haitian Creole.

Diaspora dollars

Last year, Haitians living abroad sent more than $1.6 billion back home to family members.

Members of the Haitian diaspora - like Boston physician Arielle Adrien - have also been active in projects which encourage long-term economic growth.

Boston physician Arielle Adrien nets a fish on the Kiskeya Aqua Ferme (farm) in Haiti.
Boston physician Arielle Adrien nets a fish on the Kiskeya Aqua Ferme (farm) in Haiti.

Adrien calls Haiti every day to confer with managers of Kiskeya Aqua Ferme, the organic farm she helps support. Located in the town of Leogane, about 25 kilometers west of Port au Prince, it produces vegetables, eggs, fish, pigs and goats.

Today, she reports with a laugh, "He says you know the fish feeds that we bought just ran out so time to buy a new one. Time to buy a new one. Time to send some more money."

Adrien says supporting an agricultural project long-distance is difficult. Along with the daily phone calls, she visits the farm several times a year.

Thinking big

No one knows how many projects like Kiskeya Aqua Ferma are funded by the Haitian immigrant community.

Livestock pens are built on Kiskeya Aqua Ferme, a Haiti farm.
Livestock pens are built on Kiskeya Aqua Ferme, a Haiti farm.

Liesl Riddle, who runs the Diaspora Program at George Washington University, says it's very hard to quantify.

"You walk in any of these countries and start asking questions about some of the new investments or the new innovations that you see in the business community, and by and large you'll find behind that a diaspora story," she says.

Much of the outside money for Haiti's small entrepreneurs has come in the form of micro-loans from Fonkoze, the nation's largest microfinance institution.

Recently, the diaspora community began expressing interest in funding larger enterprises, which create jobs and offer more opportunities for economic development.

Katleen Felix, Fonkoze's Diaspora Coordinator, explains that Haitian banks don't loan to these mid-size projects, and it's difficult for Haitians living abroad to raise start up costs for these businesses without straining their personal finances.

"Supporting those projects, yes, I would like to put $10,000 in my 401k this year, but I have my community back home that I have to support," she says.

'It's our business'

That's why Fonkoze recently launched Zafen.org.

Haitian businesses approach Fonkoze to make an appeal for funds. The institution's staff reviews each proposal to make sure the business model is sound. Approved projects are listed on the Zafen site, along with a description of the project, and needed funding.

Donors can review the projects and select the ones they want to support. Small contributions are combined and provided as no-interest loans to businesses enterprises.

Fonkoze staff members stay in touch with the entrepreneurs to ensure that the money is being spent appropriately.

George Washington University's Riddle says the process will give the businesses financial credibility as they seek more funding.

"We need some way of being able to certify that certain projects are valid and that money will be used for the purposed they say they're going to use it," she says. "Having a sort of third party identify those projects and put their stamp of approval behind it I think is really critical when we're talking about these type of markets where there aren't these sort of third-party certification institutions."

Arielle Adrien has submitted a proposal to Fonkoze, and looks forward to the day her farming project appears on the Zafen website.

Looking at a photo of her farm's first animal pens, built with concrete blocks, Adrien says, "We have come far, but not far enough."

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

ExxonMobil Set to Begin Drilling Off Guyana

Project could turn up the heat under a long-running territorial row with neighboring Venezuela
More

Peru Indigenous Groups Settle US Court Claims with Occidental

Achuar communities alleged Occidental spilled oil and dumped toxic waste while operating country's biggest oil block, triggering widespread health problems
More

Petrobras Scandal Threatens Brazil's Political, Business Elite

Executives reportedly feeling inclined to cut plea bargains that would result in less jail time in return for disclosing graft scheme details
More

Tests Indicate Argentine Prosecutor Was Slain, Ex-Wife Says

Alberto Nisman, found dead days after accusing president of involvement in cover-up, didn't commit suicide, Sandra Arroyo Salgado says
More

Canadian Pastor Detained in North Korea

Hyeon Soo Lim arrived in North Korea in late January, went to Pyongyang on a humanitarian mission and hasn't been heard from since
More

Colombia Generals Join Rebel Leaders for Peace Talks

Colombia's President Santos long resisted FARC calls for bilateral ceasefire, but since his re-election last year, he has injected urgency into negotiations
More