Introducing the Haiti Pro Online Business Community
Haiti Pro is new website for entrepreneurs interested in private sector solutions to Haiti's developmental challenges. Haiti Pro Members can easily share videos of their ideas and efforts. There are already a number of interesting clips on topics including dairy franchising, wood charcoal alternatives, reforestation, and women's groups. Below are summaries of the clips that are in Kreyol and/or French. Consider joining if you are interested in small business development in Haiti.
Fatra Tounen Charbon (Trash Turns into Charcoal): This video concerns a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) supported program that employs residents of Carrefour Feuilles to bring trash to a triage facility in Haiti where it is sorted and recycled. Paper waste is turned into briquettes with a press, creating a much cheaper and environmentally friendly cooking fuel than wood charcoal. When people cook with briquettes, it is making Port au Prince cleaner, creating jobs, and preserving the environment. I hope this program can be expanded in Port au Prince and replicated in other cities.
Pye Bwa Mirak, Moringa (Moringa, the Miracle Tree): This is a video of a tree nursery outside of Cayes Jacmel that cultivates Moringa trees. Moringa is tough, fast growing and does well even in arid soils. The leaves are highly nutritious and are often used by Haitians in soup. Some countries import Moringa leaf in pill form for its vitamin contact. The nursery has been grinding the leaves into a fine powder and selling it locally to families who can fortify their food with it. Given that the Moringa grows quickly, is nutritious, and has potential value as an export crop, it seems an excellent candidate for reforestation programs.
Jatropha in Lhomond: Expertise Exploitation Jatropha (EEJ) is an organization that began by cultivating jatropha outside of Miragoane in the South. EEJ eventually created two jatropha nurseries and has now created a third in Jeremie. EEJ planted jatropha with corn to prove that they could grow well together.
Pou Lavi Miyo (For a Better Life): This video concerns a youth group in Hinche who identified a need - namely, small farmers who were living in poverty because they did not have enough land to farm, and a solution, linking them up with land-owners who were not using all of their property. With profits earned from this effort, the youth group has been able to build rudimentary irrigation systems that allow them to farm year round.
Bel Fle, Bel Peye (Beautiful Flowers, Beautiful Country): This one covers the wide variety of orchids that grow in Haiti. With proper care, these orchids can grow well and be sold. There is a wide demand for orchids worldwide, meaning that the flower industry could be a potential export for Haiti.
Sere Dlo pou le Tan Sek (Save Water for When Its Dry): This video concerns the creation of very small reservoirs in the area outside of Hinche. These reservoirs collect water during the rainy season and hold it during the dry season. These micro-reservoirs can be stocked with fish, providing residents with an accessible source of protein. In addition, they provide water for livestock (which would otherwise be drinking at the same water points as people) and for irrgiation. This has allowed them to expand the range of agricultural products they can grow.
Vetivè, Kokenn Plant (Vertiver, Fantastic Plant): The extract of the Vertiver plant is used in perfumes and essential oils. While other countries produce vertiver, Haiti's is said to be particularly strong. Despite many challenges, this video describes how well-suited Haiti is to re-establish vertiver as an export crop. The small factory that is featured is capable of producing six different kinds of vertiver oil. Interestingly, the vertiver plant can live for 50-60 years, making it a a good long-term investment.
Edrice: This clip is about Edrice, a community leader who is working hard to make the bidonville (slum) in which he resides more livable. He has worked with the community to plant trees, including Mapou trees, which he believes people will not cut down to its spiritual significance. He has worked with the community to create create cement walkways and stairways where none existed before, built cement latrines, improved water systems, and established modest mills for grinding corn into flour. Edrice also holds civic education classes for the community.
Arjil Nouriti ou Byen Pou Bote (Clay for Nourishment or What?): The last thing Haiti needs is another piece on people eating clay. But the reality is that many people oustide of Hinche earn their living by digging up clay and sending it to Port au Prince. Once in Port au Prince, women form it into the biscuits and sell it to people who use it for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason for purchasing it, it is a livelihood for many people.
Le Succès de LÈT AGOGO (The Success of Milk To Go): Lèt Agogo is a small but growing franchise of localized dairies. Instead of importing milk from the United States or the Dominican Republic, many jobs could be created in Haiti just by expanding to meet the national demand for milk. After rice, milk has traditionally been the second largest import. Let Agogo dairies also produce yogurt, cheese, and other products which have traditionally been difficult to find in rural areas. In many ways, Let Agogo is a model for creating jobs by addressing unmet needs. You can read more here.
Ti Revolisyon Agrikol (Small Agricultural Revolution): Julie Barasa works in an agriculturally oriented micro-credit organization called Pwop Plant Cent La (PPC). Members have been able to access funds in order to irrigate, allowing them to divert water from the rivers in the area. By doing this, they are able to farm year around and increase their yields significantly.
Transfomasyon Bay Kob (Transformation to Earn Money): Concerns a rural group outside of Hinche called Asociasyon Fanmi de Devlopman de Plato Central (Family Association of the Development of the Central Plateau). This group produces peanut butter, dried fruit, and jam which employs between 50 and 60 persons. Before this association was established, people who like mayonnaise would have needed to purchase it from the Dominican Republic instead. Their products are now being sold in Port au Prince as well.
Developman Riral Integre (Integrated Rural Development): The video describes activities taking place in Bassin, a community outside of Marmelade. The Memb Asociasyon Development de Marmelade (Members of the Association for the Development of Marmelade) plants fruit trees and has established a dairy and a fishery in the community as well.
Viv Pi Byen (Live Better): This video concerns a community outside of Leogane. The Asosiyason Payizan de Fondwa (Peasant Association of Fondwa) developed a water piping system that has expanded the range of publicly accesibly water points and made it possible for people to have running water in their yards. This is significant in that it took almost an hour to collect water and return home in some of the outlying communities. The burden of collecting water falls disproportionately on women and children. The Association formed water committees, who are trained in managing the water system, and collects modest dues from community members to maintain it. The Association continues to expand the water system to communities that lack access.
Biodiesel: We've noted this video in a blog already. It shows how used cooking oil can be converted into biodiesel, which is being used in Haiti's first biofuel powered truck. If you like banann peze, you know that Port au Prince goes through a lot of cooking oil each day. It touches on the potential of jatropha as a biofuel, as well.
Fatra kapab yon sous richès (Trash Can Be a Source of Riches): Rara Bags is a women's group that makes clothing out of scrap fabric and discarded plastic bags, of which there many, in Port au Prince. There are 30 women in the group who are producing more than 200 very colorful bags and purses each month. As the title put it, people who have trash can become people who have money with a little bit of creativity.
Pi piti kap soufri (The Littlest are Suffering): Concerns a community where many families lost their gardens, and thus livelihoods, after a tropical storm. The video is choppy but I gather it is about restoring agricultural livelihoods and treating malnourished children.
Wout Jaden An (The Garden Way): Concerns a community in the Foret de Pins in Haiti's southeest that is cultivating potatoes and raising poultry. It is the largest poultry facility in a rural area that I have seen in Haiti. The chickens are a source of meat, eggs, and fertilizer for neighboring communities. The Potato is a good, versatile staple crop for Haiti as it grows quickly, is tough, and can be shipped down rough roads without bruising.
Why Can't Haiti Feed Itself?: This three part video is a discussion between two Haitian friends concerninig food security in Haiti. One asks questions in English and the other responds in Kreyol. The discussion touches on the importance of reforming the justice system, tax code, and legal process in order to create an environment inviting to foreign investment. They also discuss the importance not just of pressing the government to reform, but of mobilizing civil society, educating children, and creating space for change. You can also view these, and other video clips, on the Germer Haiti website.
I found the clips on this site interesting, inspiring, and a good reminder that Haiti's private sector has a great deal to contribute to the country's development. The new Haiti Pro site provides an interesting forum for discussing business ideas that could have an impact in Haiti. Perhaps you even have a video of your own that you would like to upload.