Haiti Entrepreneurship Hub
Category: Human Capital Empowerement
Event: Global Social Business Competition 2013
Team: Rasmus Greis, Benoit Decreton, Svenja Schroeder, Adithya Kumar, Matej Urban, Paula Canga
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. With 80% of the population living under the poverty line, the earthquake in 2010 has hit the country hard. Much of Port-au-Prince and neighboring areas were destroyed and the earthquake caused the country’s GDP to contract 5.4% in 2010. The emergency aid that has flown into the country after the earthquake has enabled Haiti to rebuilt basic infrastructure in Port-au-Prince. However, many have lost their livelihood to the earthquake and have not been able to rebuild their businesses or find another source of income. Haiti is in need for new businesses and entrepreneurs to get their economy back on track and create jobs for the people at the bottom of the pyramid.
The principal goal of HEH is to establish a long- term relationships with our stakeholders, especially with individual entrepreneurs, being able to provide them with support and advice at each development stage of their business. The success of this initiative will be clearly visible and traceable by the number of new businesses being started by the participants of the HEH. In addition to the mere rise in the number of new ventures created, we will consider the contribution of HEH as truly successful only once the business propositions of participating entrepreneurs turn into self- sustaining and stable business operations. This will be monitored across a longer period of time (e.g. 2- 5 years). In return, we expect the entrepreneurs to become more engaged with the Hub, having the opportunity to become mentors and role- models for next generations of entrepreneurs at Haiti.
The HEH will design its impact assessment around the number of people who are directly influenced by the project. However, the start-up of a business does not only affect the entrepreneur himself, but also his family. And he might even hire others that are then able to earn an income for their families. Afterwards, the money earned by the workers will be spent and indirectly sustain the economy.
According to the World Bank the average household size in Haiti is 4.6. Thus, we propose to count the number of jobs created through the HEH and then multiply this number by the factor 5 (4.6: impact on families + 0.4: indirect impact on economy). In this way we get an impression of how many livelihoods the project affects.
As indicated above, the project aims to drive entrepreneurial spirit at Haiti and provide real business opportunities and access to support to all.
To secure the necessary financing of such a large- scale project, a crowfunding platform will be established allowing the individual participants in the Haiti Entrepreneurship Hub to contribute to the sustainable growth of the venture as part of a communal effort, leading to the success of the entrepreneur, the community, and this way driving a sustainable economic development of the country.
For large scale projects requiring substantial investments, crowdfunding platform can be open to external investors, specifically targeting the corporate partners of the Haiti Entrepreneurship Hub, consisting of established Haitian and foreign entrepreneurs as well as large global companies.
To illustrate this model on a simple example, let us look at the case of Emmanuel, a 24- year old Haitian boy. Emmanuel lives with his family, mother and two younger brothers in Port-au-Prince. It is his responsibility to provide for the family as he has lost his farther during the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. Emu, as people call him, is a fisher but he has an idea of how to make some additional profit for his family. He would like to start his own company, processing old car and truck tires into fashion accessories. However, currently Emu does not have the initial capital to purchase these tires. With Haiti Entrepreneurship Hub, he would be able to makes his idea come true.
Apart from education and mentorship, HEH aims to provide sustainable financing for the Haitian entrepreneurs. Emu would receive the opportunity to present his idea in the HEH both to the corporate partners of the Hub and to the participating entrepreneurs. Those entrepreneurs who would see the potential in this idea would then have the opportunity to contribute a small amount, $5-$10 to the initial investment requirements of the project, becoming small “investors” for Emu’s idea, enabling him to start the business. Consequently, Emu would have the moral obligation to repay his debt to the other entrepreneurs by supporting their ideas and project, this way kick- starting a sustainable, self-sufficient investment vehicle and entrepreneurship accelerator
As already mentioned, the Haiti Entrepreneurship Hub aims to drive entrepreneurial growth in Haiti. Thus, support will be given to all and everyone from the Haiti community with a genuine interest in starting their own business, whether this would be a social project, small venture or a large scale initiative.
From the entrepreneurs already present in Haiti, many have come to the decision of starting up a business driven by basic needs of food and shelter, securing the safety and survival of themselves and their families. HEH will focus on these individuals with existing entrepreneurial background, with the aim of translating their purely necessity driven ventures into sustainable businesses with long- term opportunities for growth and scalability. But the Hub will go beyond that, reaching out to the community as a whole, providing the opportunity of support and education to those with an entrepreneurial spark and willingness to learn.
As many people that work in the informal sector are already entrepreneurs in a way, the Hub will also offer courses on the growth opportunities for businesses that go from informal to formal thereby giving them strategic ideas to scale sustainably.
Haiti Entrepreneurship Hub aims to be a one-stop place for potential entrepreneurs, right from the inception stage to the actual setup of their own company. The HEH will be a constant source of support throughout the entire process of setting up their own venture and our Unique Selling Proposition lies in the fact that we are an innovative venture ourselves and we strive to have a “local touch” by being the best network that has inter-linking capabilities between entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, government and other institutions that may encourage entrepreneurship thereby having a long- term impact on the economy of the country.
HEH also focuses its efforts on training, mentoring and supporting the entrepreneurs from the very start, both professionally and personally, with the principal purpose of creating a long- lasting relationships with these budding visionaries.
Last but not least, HEH will enable to build partnerships with VC firms from other countries like the USA, Canada and EU in order to attract more FDI and possibly expanding the level playing field for eager enterprises to spread their wings globally. Thus, HEH stands at a unique standpoint by being a cooperative, understanding and beneficial partner to every stakeholder identified.
Based on our research and analysis, we found out that there are very few of such start-up accelerators present in the country at the moment, with one being announced recently. The Inter-American Development Bank, along with cooperation of the Haiti government, has recently announced its ambition of starting one such enterprise promoting entrepreneurship within Haiti. Nevertheless, it has only been announced and there has been no concrete news on when the doors of this enterprise will be open to eager entrepreneurs.
In terms of indirect competition, we envision other research institutions, governmental agencies and educational establishments who also run similar initiatives, although very few in number. Investments from the US, Canada and other countries can also count to be an indirect competition to our enterprise. However, such risk can be easily managed by creating strategic partnerships with these investors, with a mutually cooperative and beneficial relationship. This will be the corner stone of our long- term strategy.
- Opportunity for Haitians to develop a business
- HEH’s financing is self-contained through the use of community based crowdfunding platform, with the possibility of scalability to external sources of funding, e.g. corporate partners of the initiative.
- Mentoring network with global leaders and companies.
- Possible to scale and replicate the model to other countries.
- Sustainable business model.
- Starting up the HEH requires a large investment
- Communication difficulties
- Cultural difficulties
- No existing network
- Find funding
- GDP continues to grow at a rate of 5%, as in 2011 and 2012
- Create jobs for Haitians.
- Existing inclination towards entrepreneurship.
- Governmental rise in education investment, will enlarge our target group.
- The economic capital Port-Au-Prince lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is subject to severe storms, occasional flooding and earthquakes.
- Other external shocks like political instability, corruption, etc.
- Change in trading agreements with USA etc.
- Low literacy rate compared to the region.