After 12 continuous years working on the ground in Liberia, in spite of a post-conflict environment where infrastructure remains limited, the devastating outbreak of Ebola in 2014-2015, and a recent fire in our partnering medical hospital, the Foundation for Women can report we’re stronger than ever! When I step back, it is truly amazing to acknowledge that FFW Liberia has become a respected humanitarian hub within this country. We are endorsed by the World Bank, by the country’s Ministers of Finance and Commerce, and by the former Vice President Boakai who has been our Chief Patron since the inception of our work here. Our hub has begun attracting smart risk-taking partners who are coming to us with proven methodologies that have worked in other poverty-stricken countries. They want a link to what we have: a vibrant web comprised of market women, small business enterprises, independent schools and community health clinics who are recreating their nation from the ground up.
And why should you put your contribution here? Because FFW Liberia has outreach in the country which, in turn, allows good ideas to scale effectively. The new FFW Community Health Clinic Project is emblematic of what we do. It is a new standard brought from respected practitioners who have successfully honed their model in other challenged countries. They recognized FFW as the one organization in Liberia, already connected, to launch their proven “hub-and-spokes” health initiative. Here is what they stated in their business plan:
“The public healthcare system in Liberia can reasonably be considered a market failure; country health indicators are among the lowest in the world. The government’s free-care-for-all policy is ‘unsustainable and impractical.’ There is a huge gap in the market that can be filled by a social enterprise approach: low user fees for exceptional quality care. FFW clinics will offer what is missing: value for money and guaranteed quality care and reliability.
By centralizing a number of operational management functions at Benson Hospital (the hub), we ensure that clinics (the spokes) are able to focus effectively on their core priority: treating patients.”
We believe what my friend Mauricio Miller states so well, essentially that a helping system for the poor based on charity actually slows progress - when well-meaning outsiders come in to save the poor - their focus on weaknesses inadvertently ends up hiding talent and potential.
In contrast, Foundation for Women Liberia embraces an enterprise approach to discover talent and unleash potential. That is why the Foundation for Women has embraced microfinance for decades now, standing next to people and supporting them in creating their own future through their own chosen businesses. It has never been “us and them” but always “we” – we listen, we learn, we believe, we stand together. And now our collective “we” is attracting impressive outside partner organizations.
We are helping build a nation here in Liberia, not save it. A reliable entrepreneurial network connected to institutions (schools and health clinics) is the key to sustainable bottom-up strength in a country with real challenges still in recovery from a hugely challenging past. And we are ready to share our model with the world.
I truly appreciate your love and continuing interest in what has often felt like a saga as we kept plowing forward. This letter is to ask you to consider Foundation for Women for a year-end donation. While we certainly fall in the exotic-contribution category, money goes far here in Liberia; we are organized to immediately put it to good use; and our duplicatable model has momentum. Your contributions – small or large, restricted or unrestricted – will support our best-ever all-Liberian staff to succeed in their mission of moving their country forward.
Thank you for believing. Thank you for supporting. We are one world, one human family.
With love and great gratitude,