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Second community foundation workshop in Haiti: practitioners from Kenya, Mexico and Brazil share their experiences

Conversations about the creation of a community foundation in Haiti have been ongoing over the last year or so as part of a process initiated by Espwa and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation and supported by the GFCF, the Kellogg Foundation and the Inter-American Foundation. An initial workshop to discuss the idea was held in Haiti last year which brought together an initial group of community and business leaders, diaspora and funders. On January 31st and February 1st 2012 a second workshop was held in Port au Prince to take the idea further. In attendance were an expanded group of Haitian representatives as well as foundation practitioners and board members from Mexico, Kenya and Brazil. Over the course of the workshop, which was facilitated by Jenny Hodgson of the GFCF, participants identified some of the key obstacles that were inhibiting the realisation of Haitian-led development agenda as well as some of the local assets – such as existing grassroots groups, the commitments of individuals, support from the diaspora etc. - which could be built on in the framing of a new institution.

 Sarah Hendricks, Tanguy Armand, Luiz Alberto Gonçaves, Pierre Noel

They heard from foundation practitioners and board members about the experiences of establishing community foundations in Kenya (Janet Mawiyoo from the Kenya Community Development Foundation) and Mexico (Karen Yarza from Fundación Comunitaria de la Frontera Norte and Ixánar Uriza from Corporativa de Fundaciones and Luiz Alberto Gonçaves, a founding board member of the Baoba Fund for Racial Equity in Brazil. And they began to map out a vision for a Haitian community foundation and a plan to move the process forward. For further information, contact Marie-Rose Romain Murphy at Espwa (romainmurphy<at>

Participants at the workshop in Port au Prince



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Reader Comments (2)

This article as well as some other concept materials have been forwarded to me by a development colleague recently. I commend the work being done thinking about creation of a community foundation in Haiti, but have to also ask myself why put in place YET ANOTHER organization. There are so many foundations, community development institutions in Haiti doing pieces of the work that this Haiti Community Foundation proposes to do. Why not form a Collaborative or Consortium? bring together a carefully chosen, select group of organizations (those who share a common vision, some shared understanding/shared approaches among various stakeholders) that are already heavily involved in building the capacity of haitian organizations. Mapping out a vision for a Haitian community foundation should be a highly inclusive process. My colleagues and fellow haitian compatriots are very close to individuals representing the private sector, the foundation sectors in Haiti and in several discussions, they have indicated not having a clear understanding of what this effort will lead to that is so vastly different from what exists now. In fact, from one participant of the workshop (a very well known figure in Haiti) - there was a sense that this effort would seem to want to duplicate existing structures. Our hope is that Haiti's community foundation can be a "rassemblement" of organizations. Why not a consortium between foundations like voila, digicel, lambi fund, haiti fund, etc? This would allow one central entity who could help pool and maximize resources, not present a threat to those who already know the locale and are doing some already good work, and create a greater impact. If we want to really help Haiti, let's not create overlapping frameworks and organizational structures. Bring groups together. It will have greater impact. And frankly, potential funders want to give to things that are PROVEN and viable. Look at PADF, look at Lambi Fund, and there are tons of others who provide existing models of this type of work.

I would like to present a "late" thank you to this civil society representative for posting his or her comment. I understand that the same person contacted an ESPWA Board Member via email with the same concern. Our Board Member invited him/her for a discussion at the very least. She also invited this person to join our efforts and initiative. Although we never got a response to our invitation, we want to assure this person and others that the door is always open.

The Community Foundation model is new to Haiti and the Haiti Community Foundation Initiative has taken careful steps to engage people in various sectors and moblize them. HCFI would not be where it is without relentless outreach to local Haitian organizations and international organizations interested in investing in Haiti for the long-term. Although Haitian organizations are active in areas that are associated to community foundations, no organization that we know of focuses on: 1) the development of philantrhopy in Haiti, a country where there is not a tradition of institutional philantrhopy, 2) Bringing together leaders from various sectors and socio-economic and political backgrounds to work on the development of Haiti in a nation-building effort.

As we haved moved forward with our efforts through our regional pilot and the construction of HCF, we have been talking and collaborating with business leaders, peasant organizations networks and chambers of commerce. We are working closely with Haiti funders who understand the need for a Haiti Community Foundation and see it as a critical institution for the future development of Haiti. In countries like Haiti who have experienced high levels of poverty, corruption, dependency on foreign aid and marginalization of indigenous leaders and communities, community foundations have been able to help build the long-term capacity of grassroots organization and develop pro-active strategies that promote local leadership vision for development. The Haiti Community Foundation which promotes a Haiti-based, Haiti-led and community-driven approach to Haitian development hopes to do the same. Please join us!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarie-Rose Romain Murphy

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