We are delighted to announce our recent grant to Fonkoze’s Boutik Sante initiative. Boutik Sante means “community health store” and is using a social franchise model to provide affordable, accessible health products and services across rural Haiti. We have committed $50,000 toward Fonkoze’s $400,000 goal to match the generous matching grant offered by Grand Challenges Canada.
When we first looked at what Linked Foundation could do to support the many women in poverty and ultra-poverty in Haiti, we found ourselves despondent. After visiting in person, and seeing the enormous challenges faced by the country, we felt that our ability to make a notable impact given our resources was extremely limited. Then in 2007 we met the dedicated, charismatic leadership of Fonkoze – a family of organizations that work together to provide the financial and non-financial services to empower Haitians—primarily women—to lift their families out of poverty. Our hearts and minds were uplifted. In the words of Linked’s founder Dorothy Largay, “After meeting the Fonkoze team and several of their clients, I knew we had found an organization with which we partner to have a profound impact in Haiti after all”.
The Boutik Sante Program is a perfect fit for us. It addresses women living in poverty or ultra-poverty in Latin America, and is designed to be a scalable, sustainable model that delivers “over-the-counter health products at low but competitive costs, as well as provides basic health counseling and screening services to the local communities.” The entrepreneurs receive healthcare training from registered nurses. Although still in its early stages, the model is showing great promise to reach its goal to improve 800,000 lives through its 900 health stores.
Boutik Sante builds on the proven record of Fonkoze’s Staircase Out of Poverty methodology. Female entrepreneurs enroll in one of the four stages (starting at the level most appropriate for the individual) in which they learn basic reading, along with business skills training, mentoring, and weekly life skills and health
education. As they progress, they receive micro-financing which evolves into joint loans to groups of five women, called the Solidarity stage. For those taking the Boutik Sante path, a microfinance client will then learn how to own and operate self-sustaining health stores that generate income and have a health impact in her community.
Like us, Fonkoze is big on outcomes and measures impact throughout the initiative’s life. Fonkoze’s Social Impact team is currently partnering with Columbia University on the monitoring and evaluation plan for the initiative. Boutik Sante has parallels with our rural pharmacy initiatives, TISA and BOSI, in Guatemala and Mexico respectively. With our combined focus on shared-learning, Linked and Fonkoze are able to benefit from each other’s experiences – and as a result, create ever more impactful enterprises to help women rise out of the devastating realities of poverty.