Village Enterprise Fund
The mission of Village Enterprise Fund (VEF) is to break the cycle of poverty in East Africa by providing small business training, seed capital and mentoring to rural entrepreneurs to start income-generating small businesses. Since 1987, VEF has created over 21,000 new businesses, improving the standard of living of more than 525,000 people. VEF, founded in 1987 by Brian Lehnen and Joan Hestenes Lehnen, grew out of the need to provide more sustainable solutions to intractable poverty. VEF occupies a unique niche in the microfinance industry, providing economic opportunity in rural areas unreached by other organizations. VEF has a small U.S. staff and dedicated in-country staff in our focus countries. Over 88% of the businesses we start last 1 year or longer, and over 75% last 4 years or more; 60% are owned by women. (VEF Impact Study, 2008).