Entries in Haiti (3)


Project to watch: Zafen.org, microfinance to Haiti

Several organizations are making an impact in Haiti in innovative and powerful ways, notably CrisisCommons and Samasource. The latter's CEO Leila Chirayath Janah has a great blog profiling her training activities there and beyond to teach women and refugees how to perform dignified, digital work.

Add to the list zafen.org, a microfinance organization in Haiti aiming to provide support to small and mid-sized businesses.

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Rethinking aid to Haiti : An argument for work

The outpouring of charity and aid to Haiti from official government efforts to citizen micro-donations via mobile phone to volunteer web developer Crisis Camps is a powerful testament to human care and outreach in the face of suffering. Recently though I heard a story that I found quite troubling: A friend recounted that his father's long-time business in Haiti is struggling mightily now that the US government response is in full swing. This would not be so shocking post-crisis, except two of this business's core products are buckets and paint, two goods in extreme demand in country right now. The problem? Not only are donated supplies flooding the market, but companies like Home Depot are allowed to mass import their products now tariff-free, significantly undercutting the local businesses.

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Web community of developer volunteers steps in to support USG and NGO efforts in Haiti

The evolution of CrisisCommons just over the past week or so is an amazing example of how much a distributed online community can produce when united behind a common cause. A quick glance at the site reveals 7 new projects in addition to the 11 on-going and released projects, all developed by hundreds of techies across 12 cities in less than 2 weeks.

CrisisCommons co-founder Noel Dickover explains:

"We are witnessing the development of a transformational change in how an average citizen can participate in the crisis response effort. Previously you could only send money.  Now, you can directly help in the response. An existing social network of national and international first responders, web 2.0 developers, and NGOs had been established, so the immediate response was just a matter of galvanizing existing relationships."

And to those who doubt the value to the Haiti relief effort of techies creating apps and other IT projects for the field: my Department of Defense client called me earlier this week looking for development assistance for a situational awareness capability that the DoD sought to implement in Haiti. I found Noel on Twitter, put him in touch with client, and now CrisisCommons has a top notch team of developers working directly on the project. This all happened within 2 days. I believe this process, created by Noel, Andrew Turner and the hundreds of CrisisCamp volunteers, is creating an entirely new value stream for relief efforts, delivering major impact.