Zafèn microfinance project approaches $2 million mark
Zafèn, the crowdfunding site for Haitian businesses that do not qualify for typical bank loans, is approaching its fourth year in operation and is close to breaking the $2 million mark in loans and donations.
Co-founded by the Vincentian Family in 2010 to commemorate the deaths of Saints Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, Zafèn raised $1,797,074 as of September 2013. That includes loans totaling $1,212,374 made to about 355 small and medium-sized businesses across Haiti, and $584,700 in donations that funded education, agriculture and water projects, among others.
As a result, hundreds of new jobs have been created across the nation. Beyond that, business owners have received training in accounting, management and other skills that have enabled them to strengthen their businesses. Many small companies have used their loans to purchase equipment that allows them to make their products faster, better or with higher quality, all factors that will boost their future success.
“Generous funders from Vincentian organizations around the world—some in great need themselves—have supported this effort to help Haitian businesses create sustainable jobs and invest in projects that have a community benefit,” says Father Joseph Agostino, C.M., international coordinator of the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative, which has since expanded beyond Zafèn into projects that promote human and economic development.
The American Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been a major supporter of Haitian businesses via Zafèn. It has funded 36 businesses that have created 175 new jobs, says Suzie David-Pierre, the society’s Haiti representative. Many are women-owned or operated. The projects range from community agricultural stores to distribution of ecofriendly building materials to water purification systems.
Zafèn stimulates collaboration between Haiti-based business owners, the Haitian Diaspora and caring people everywhere interested in Haitian economic growth.
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