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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Canadian Authorities Seek More Power to Thwart Terror Suspects

Canada's PM Harper he'll press for speedy OK to track terror suspects abroad, and to detain people in the country suspected of plotting attacks
More

Brazilians Set to Choose New President

President Dilma Rousseff and Senator Aecio Neves face each other in weekend runoff
More

FARC Rebel Gets 27 Years in US Prison for Hostage-Taking

Alexander Beltran Herrera responsible for kidnapping three Americans whose plane crash-landed in Colombia
More

Canadian Shooter's Mother ‘Mad’ at Son

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's mother, Susan told the Associated Press part of her 'wants to hate' her estranged son, who killed a soldier in Ottawa
More

Canadian Couple Accused of Spying in China Held in Near Isolation

Treatment of the couple, who are being held without charge at a remote facility in the border city of Dandong, has seriously strained China's ties with Canada
More

Mexico Governor Resigns After Student Disappearances

Students from a rural teachers training college went missing after a confrontation with police in the town of Iguala on September 26
More