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, the Zafèn project was established to make 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 goal by:
- Showcasing business projects that have been pre-screened 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 micro-mentoring opportunities that will nurture their action on sustainability and, ultimately, self-sufficiency.
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.