When you first hear about Haiti in the news, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the devastation of the Southwestern part of the country’s infrastructure from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010, especially in Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns, The country is still recovering even though $13 billion in foreign aid have been earmarked until 2020, making Haiti one of the 10 biggest recipients of foreign aid in the world. As a result, Haiti has become known as the “Republic of NGOs”, the island of donated foreign goods that more often than not, hurt the local economy.
Still, Haitians have found alternative solutions to a high unemployment rate: entrepreneurship. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis’ research, “The continuous experience of self-employment is the most effective strategy for economic mobility (...) higher average rates of entrepreneurship in a state correspond to bigger declines in poverty; in fact, every 1 percentage point increase in entrepreneurship corresponds to a 2 percent decrease in the poverty rate.” Innovative companies like Bridge Capital have helped revitalize the Haitian economy, by providing small loans to businesses that otherwise don't qualify. Bridge Capital has already helped create 10 000 jobs and plans to create 100 000 more by 2020 across public and private sectors.
Social entrepreneurship has become a growing field for Haitians to generate sustainable income and create for themselves work opportunities that help rebuild their communities. Diallo and Evadie suggest, “A well-established social entrepreneurship program in Haiti will help to enhance its sustainable development programs and create more jobs not only for the youth but also for other marginalized populations in the country.” As such, social entrepreneurship, with the right management system and stakeholder engagement, can produce leaders that are prepared to fight against poverty in Haiti.
SolKomYo is a social innovation organization that introduces entrepreneurial solutions to solve community development challenges in the North East department of Haiti. Their projects include financial literacy, communal savings groups, micro-entrepreneurship, and leadership programs for female merchants, agricultural workers and youth to empower them as community leaders and help their communities become more self-sufficient.
SOIL primarily focuses on promoting the use of ecological sanitation (EcoSan), a process by which human wastes are converted into valuable compost. EcoSan simultaneously tackles some of Haiti’s toughest challenges by providing sanitation to people who would otherwise have no access to a toilet and producing an endless supply of rich, organic compost critical for agriculture and reforestation. Working with communities to design and test ecologically and socially beneficial solutions, SOIL implements low-cost technologies that are simple, easy to replicate, require minimal water, and provide safe and dignified access to sanitation.
We had the opportunity to talk to the leaders who helped grow these organizations from idea to full-fledged viable businesses. Stay tuned for our interviews with them- we’ll be releasing them in the coming weeks!