Entrepreneur Spotlight: Resilient and Determined Widows Reclaim Hope Through Empowerment in Haiti

February 21, 2018

Widows in Jeremie, Haiti

Hundreds of women in Jeremie, Haiti were left widowed and destitute in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The destructive storm not only wiped out many of their businesses, leaving them without any stable means of making an income, it broke their self-confidence and hope.

Their families, with eight dependents on average, often went to bed hungry and hopeless.

In response to the crisis, Just Hope International, in October 2017, partnered with El Shaddai International Ministries (ESMI) to launch the Widow Empowerment Program (WEPH), an economic empowerment program specifically for widows in Jeremie, to help them restart their ventures.

Widow from Jeremie, Haiti receiving her acceptance into the WEPH program in October.

Twenty-five widows were carefully selected to participate in the program through individual interviews. During our interviews, we saw their unwavering determination to provide for themselves through entrepreneurship. However, they lacked the resources to scale their income to a point they could provide for themselves and their dependants.

Widows from Jeremie, Haiti meeting with University of Jeremie business graduates for mentoring.

Since joining the program, each participant received one-on-one business counseling and a modest capital investment as a loan payable under terms and conditions the widows recommended.

Four months after launching the program, Just Hope’s leadership team visited the widows during our quarterly evaluation this February.

With flourishing businesses, the widows are full of hope.

Today, all of the women are learning to be frugal in their personal finances. Each woman is making her monthly loan repayments and earning a profit.

“Prior to the program, we had no self-confidence, no hope. Most nights our families went to bed without food, but now, as successful entrepreneurs, our families are going to bed with full stomachs and we have regained dignity and hope for a better future.”

Widows in Jeremie, Haiti

Just Hope President Ben Turner and Economic Empowerment Policies & Programs Advisor Pradeep Patnaik met with widows from Jeremie, Haiti in February to discuss their progress.

Now empowered entrepreneurs, the widows beamed with confidence as they revealed how they have overcome obstacles that every business faces — finding high-quality supplies, identifying the right location in the market, and dealing with the pressures of competition. The challenges present an opportunity for these women to use the training they had received and their own entrepreneurial spirit to continue to grow their business.

As successful entrepreneurs, their families are going to bed with full stomachs and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Are you passionate about entrepreneurship and the power of business to transform lives? Get in touch and find out how you can get involved!

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