Just Hope International Launches Widows Empowerment Program in Haiti

October 3, 2017

Just Hope International, with private donations, announced a new program to economically empower widows in Jeremie, Haiti whose businesses were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Prior to Hurricane Matthew, the widows were street vendors supporting more than six dependents each.

The primary goal of the Widows Empowerment Program in Haiti is to revive the local economy by empowering widows to rebuild their businesses, and spread the culture of entrepreneurship in Jeremie. Based on Just Hope’s mission to make an “impact that lasts,” the program allows those who expressed a genuine desire to improve their circumstances to regain their dignity, generate household income and break the cycle of poverty. By promoting business ownership and economic empowerment, the program will also create jobs for youth and women who were living on public charity.

Initially, there will be twenty widows with prior entrepreneurial backgrounds enrolled in the program. Each will be given business skills advice, certain capital to restart the venture and mentoring sessions from senior Business Administration students of the University of Jeremie. Just Hope International is partnering with the University of Jeremie to facilitate and implement the program.

Entrepreneurs were selected through personal interviews conducted by volunteers from Just Hope International. Each interview reviewed the applicant’s personal story, entrepreneurial background and plans to restart her lost business. Each participant requested certain capital investment under her own terms. The repaid amount will be reinvested in Jeremie and neighboring towns under a similar program. There are no collateral or personal guarantee requirements for the investment.

During the selection process, these twenty reenergized entrepreneurs stated that they would generate $60,000 in annual revenue, create opportunities for others and regain self-dignity. They will be engaged in a variety of enterprises, including street vending selling groceries, household goods, shoes and clothing, street cafe and farming.

“Our goal is to empower widows with entrepreneurial skills and assist them in becoming contributing members of Jeremie and the Grand’Anse region, rather than depending on churches and begging. They will invigorate the local economy through micro-enterprises, and be role models for their family members and others in similar situations. We are focused on developing the knowledge and skills among participants,” Dr. Dony St. Germain, President of the University of Jeremie and founder of El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMI), said.

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