Snohomish group casts a wide net of help in African country

SNOHOMISH — Just a few years ago, a nursing degree was an unattainable goal for Ignace Hounwanou.

Today, the African native is a registered nurse and close to his dream of opening a clinic for people in his home country of Togo.

John and Tomm Stewart of Snohomish had a hand in Hounwanou’s success. To help pay for his education, the brothers started Educational and Entrepreneurial Foundation for Developing Countries back in 2005.

With generous donations from people in Snohomish County and beyond, the nonprofit has funded about a dozen projects, many of them in Togo, a small West African country near Ghana.

One project involved a group of villagers who wanted to sell grain and seeds. They needed the money for supplies and a place to store them. Their business has taken off, Stewart said.

Another successful story involved a young widowed woman with a smart idea, selling toothpicks and toothbrushes on the street. The $600 she got from the foundation went a long way, Stewart said.

The nonprofit distributes funds in the form of grants, he explained. The recipients are asked — if they can — to give back 20 percent within two years.

Stewart first visited Togo in 2003 on a mission with his church.

“I saw the desperate need the people there have. And I noticed that, given an opportunity, they were really hardworking,” he said.

Stewart recently retired from Verizon after more than 30 years. His brother is assistant principal of Centennial Middle School.

Stewart doesn’t believe in simply giving people money, but he believes in giving people opportunities. That’s what he has been doing through the foundation.

He said one proverb sums up what the nonprofit is all about: Give your friends a fish, and they will eat for a day. Teach your friends to fish, and they will eat for a lifetime.

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452,

How to donate

Donations are accepted through the Web site at or by mail at EEFDC c/o John Stewart, 14414 139th Ave. SE., Snohomish, WA 98290.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cat killed, 9 people displaced after duplex fire in Everett

None of the people were injured in the fire reported around 1:15 a.m. in the 11500 block of Meridian Avenue S.

Brian Henrichs, left, and Emily Howe, right, begin sifting out the bugs from their bug trap along Port Susan on Monday, May 22, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘A delta for the future’: Scientists try to save salmon at Stilly’s mouth

The Stillaguamish River’s south fork once supported 20,000 salmon. In 2019, fewer than 500 fish returned to spawn.

Mountlake Terrace Library, part of the Sno-Isle Libraries, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Sno-Isle workers cite safety, unfilled positions in union push

Workers also pointed to inconsistent policies and a lack of a say in decision-making. Leadership says they’ve been listening.

A view over the Port of Everett Marina looking toward the southern Whidbey Island fault zone in March 2021. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County agencies to simulate major disaster

The scenario will practice the response to an earthquake or tsunami. Dozens of agencies will work with pilots.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace eyes one-time projects for $2.4M in federal funds

Staff recommended $750,000 for a new roof and HVAC at the library, $250,000 toward the a nonprofit facility in Lynnwood and more.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

Senator Maria Cantwell (center) hosted a roundtable to discuss the fentanyl crisis Monday, June 5, 2023 in Everett, Washington. Cantwell was joined community leaders and those who have been personally impacted by the issue. (Photo provided by the office of Maria Cantwell)
Everett leaders cite jaw-dropping stats on fentanyl crisis

Sen. Maria Cantwell gathered those affected by the opioid crisis Monday to push for a unified response to soaring overdoses.

Dave "Bronco" Erickson stands next to the pink-and-purple 1991 Subaru Justy hatchback “Pork Chop Express” car that he is seeking to re-home for $500. The car has been on Whidbey Island for years, mainly as yard art. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
For sale: Whidbey’s fabled ‘Pork Chop Express’ gets great smileage

Asking price is $500 for the 1991 Subaru Justy, a three-cylinder econobox with 65K miles and a transmission as rare as hen’s teeth.

The Snohomish River turns along the edge of the Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To build a healthier Snohomish River, more log jams

About $2.8M in grants will help engineer log jams, tear down levees and promote salmon restoration at Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve.

Most Read