Student-led conference shines positive light on Haiti Boston Haitian Reporter March 2012 BostonHaitian.com
By Manolia Charlotin EDITOR
On February 11 BrandHaiti, a student led market- ing nonprofit that is working to re-brand negative perceptions of Haiti, hosted its annual symposium at Tufts University. The all day business conference titled “Investing in Haiti: Challenges, Strategies, Opportunities” featured several prominent entre- preneurs, many, directly from Haiti. The panels addressed key themes of entrepreneurship, investment and economic development on the island.
BrandHaiti, founded in 2010 by Marie-Gabrielle Isidore and Chad Gordon, was a response to the consistent negative images of Haiti particularly after the earthquake. The two students conceived the organization as interns under the tutelage of Tuft’s Institute for Global Leadership.
In its second year, the symposium’s focus on investing in Haiti drew a sizeable attendance from members of the diaspora – which included some of Boston’s Haitian entrepreneurs – Legrand Gandhi Lindor of Caribbean Apparel was featured on a panel that addressed the next generation of leadership and Patrick Lucien of the Ile-a-Vache Development Group presented one of his new products, a fruit- based pepper sauce.
“We wanted our students and guests, to get a full perspective of what it means to invest in Haiti,” said Isidore. The conference planning team sought to emphasize areas of opportunity, and inspire participants to get involved in the long-term sustainability of Haiti.
“More importantly, we wanted to show that there [are] amazing Haitians in Haiti leading successful businesses, working hard to improve and rebuild their country, models and industries that are successful, and show the real faces and voices of Haitians.”
One of those entrepreneurs was panelist Genevieve Lemke, who owns the Wahoo Bay Beach Club and Resort an hour away from Port-au-Prince. Wahoo Bay is one of the well-known tourist destinations on the island.
“I want the image of Haiti to change,” said Lemke. “I am tired of when I travel and people ask where I am from and I say ‘Haiti’ they say ‘really?’ Like everywhere else we have our problems, but there’s so much positivity we want people to come discover this positivity that nobody is talking about.”
Many of the attendees expressed similar optimism in the potential for Haiti’s economy to grow from its under-utilized resources.
“I learned a lot from [this conference] and met like-minded people who are operating in Haiti,” said Marie-Danielle Vil-Young. Vil-Young is a scientist- turned-entrepreneur who owns À Votre Service, a New Jersey-based upscale event-planning firm. She hopes to open an office in Haiti and to work with the school of hospitality to enhance training of service professionals.
“It was important for me to hear about the realities of working in Haiti, especially in the hospitality industry. Things are not always perfect, but with all the resources we have I’ve always thought ‘why aren’t we using these same resources to build our economy?’ For me, my technical background helps me with problem-solving, which is very important as an event planner.”
Throughout the symposium, attendees also noted the importance of transparency in government, as longstanding charges of corruption in the public and private sectors remain a daunting challenge for the current administration, and its robust efforts to attract investors.
Lemke and other speakers say the country needs political security and as they see positive things happening, they are working to do their part to help Haiti move forward. These positive messages are at the core of BrandHaiti’s goals.
“[The] key was to make sure Haiti remains in the spot light and that the information that is communicated is not always negative,” said Jacques-Philippe Piverger, founder of the Global Syndicate and board member of BrandHaiti. “…the fact that people traveled from pretty far away is a testament to the hard work of the team.”
This hard work has helped the organization grow at an impressive rate, with several chapters in universities across the US, and more scheduled to start in Canada and France later this year. In addition to the annual conference, BrandHaiti organizes an internship program that matches young talent with businesses in Haiti along with a spring break program – which has just received an official endorsement from the ministry of tourism.
“We developed [BrandHaiti] on the idea that young people can serve as ambassadors of Haiti on their respective college campuses,” said Isidore. “We believe that if students are exposed to Haiti, develop a love for the country, they will hold a special place in their hearts for Haiti.”
“Students are future leaders and policy makers, who will one day make decisions about Haiti, so we want to plant a seed of inspiration in them to remain committed to Haiti’s long term sustainability.”
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Tufts’ chapter of BrandHaiti, a student−led nonprofit organization seeking to transform the negative cultural images and perceptions of Haiti, on Saturday hosted its second annual Business Symposium, “Investing in Haiti: Challenges, Strategies, Opportunities.” The event featured several prominent entrepreneurs and panels discussing entrepreneurship, investment and economic development in Haiti.
Since its inception in 2010, BrandHaiti has worked under the auspices of the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) at Tufts to highlight the economic agency of Haiti — especially in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake — and to challenge negative international perceptions of the country.
“Our focus is on debunking negative stereotypes about Haiti,” BrandHaiti CFO Joshua Reed−Diawuoh, a junior, said. “We’re doing that by showing success stories, about the competency and agency of the Haitian people, so the symposium is a testament to that.”
The symposium, which consisted of four panels promoting entrepreneurship, the investment industries, infrastructure and economic development in Haiti and the role of the Haitian diaspora in promoting growth, respectively, drew a sizeable crowd. Attendees included many members of Boston’s Haitian community.
Genevieve Lemke, who owns the Wahoo Bay Beach Club and Resort an hour away from the capital city of Port−au−Prince, traveled to Tufts to speak on the state of the tourism industry in Haiti and the power of a negative international image in skewing cross−cultural understandings.
“I want the image of Haiti to change,” Lemke said. “I am tired of when I travel and people ask where I am from and I say ‘Haiti’ they say ‘really?’ Like everywhere else we have our problems, but there’s so much positivity we want people to come discover this positivity that nobody is talking about.”
Panelists also offered their perceptions of the potential trajectories of the Haitian economy by stating what they felt were the most forward−thinking and progressive industries.
Jennifer Fievre, an investment officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) branch of the World Bank, said that the housing and construction sectors, along with agri−business, show promise of growth. She noted the decentralization strategies underway in Haiti strive to move people outside of the capital city of Port−au−Prince into the more rural provinces, where opportunities for entrepreneurship abound.
“Some of the problems that exist are in the infrastructure,” Fievre said.
Fievre also cited recent World Bank economic statistics that rank Haiti as one of the worst countries in terms of ease of doing business, placing it 174th out of 183.
“The main challenge that can be addressed is the weakened business environment in Haiti. What can be done is addressing these facts and making it easier to open a business in Haiti,” Fievre told the Daily in an interview.
Dominick Mercier heard about the symposium from a family member who works at Tufts and decided to attend the event. Mercier, who was born in Haiti and raised in Everett, Mass., in the 1990s, appreciated the panel’s honest debate about the challenges facing Haiti and Haitian entrepreneurs and the candid discussion of globalization.
She was dismayed, however, by the negative rhetoric displayed by some of the audience members.
“The optimism is great, and helpful, but some members of the audience seemed bent to cast Haitians in a negative light,” Mercier told the Daily.
Reed−Diawuoh has been assisting BrandHaiti with planning for the symposium since he returned from studying abroad in Ghana during the fall semester.
“The planning process was already underway when I came back from Ghana, but once I got here, we were reaching out to speakers, organizing the logistics on campus and promoting our message,” he said.
The organization has also created a product line and a spring break program initiative which bring students to Haiti in order to help stimulate the local economy and to foster economic and personal engagement with the country.
BrandHaiti CEO and co−founder Marie−Gabrielle Isidore graduated from Tufts last May and continues to work closely with the organization.
Throughout the symposium, the panelists noted the importance of removing the perception of governmental corruption and increasing transparency as keys to promoting entrepreneurship in Haiti and revamping the education system. They expressed optimism regarding the economic and governmental future of Haiti after the 2011 elections.
“The country needs political security, and that we can build trust,” Lemke said. “It’s a new government, and I think they want to try. I see a lot of positive things happening, and I’m willing to do my part to help Haiti move forward.”
Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 3:21 pm | Updated: 10:58 am, Mon Feb 13, 2012.
By Eva McKend, Special to the AmNews | 0 comments
There is a group of young people who want us to stop referring to Haiti as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. That’s because the gloomy trope does little to change the lives of the Haitian people. Rather than grabbing at the low hanging fruit of poverty porn, BrandHaiti believes more time needs to be spent empowering Haitian entrepreneurs and exploring strategies for long-term economic growth.
In an interview with the AmsterdamNews.com, Co-founder and CEO Marie-Gabrielle Isidore and Chief Financial Officer Joshua Reed-Diawuoh explained the organization’s unique mission to revitalize the Haitian economy using non-exploitative methods. Isidore and Reed-Diawuoh, are part of a team of students and recent graduates whose expertise range from economics to sociology. Although developing countries often receive the “one size fits all” treatment, Isidore and Reed-Diawuoh say change and true possibility can only occur if there is a collective effort to understand the specifics of the Haitian experience and the country’s larger social and political framework.
BrandHaiti is currently working to introduce an internship initiative for students; facilitate a spring break program to Haiti; maintain a product line of Haitian designed and manufactured merchandise and release “Prisoners of Hope,” a documentary that will dispel the myth that Haiti is a dangerous and uninviting place to do business.
AmNews: What is BrandHaiti and what distinguishes your organization from other non-profit groups?
JRW & GI:BrandHaiti is a student led non-profit business marketing organization that re-brands Haiti’s negative image through highlighting the country’s strengths and comparative advantages to foster pro-Haitian business investment. We began at Tufts University but are now an international team of young entrepreneurs and activists. Some of BrandHaiti’s members also live in Haiti, providing immediate, face-to-face connections with potential business partners and government agencies, facilitating the oversight of current projects underway.
AmNews: What personally motivated you to get involved?
JRW: Spending a semester abroad in Ghana helped me realize the potential impact I could make in developing countries. All around me, I witnessed the determination and ingenuity to ignite the economy. All that was missing was the capital to start businesses and entrepreneurial ventures.
JRW & GI:It has been two years since the earthquake and Haiti is barely covered in the American media. As business people, what is your strategy for getting people engaged and interested in your organization?
JRW & GI:The real tragedy of catastrophic events such as the earthquake, which initially struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, is that they often elicit temporary empathy from outside observers. Haiti faces structural challenges, but also contains a number of promising aspects. BrandHaiti tries to capture these stories and convey them to a wide audience; we feel projecting these positive realities redirects energy to Haiti’s vast potential.
AmNews: What is your fundraising model and who are your business partners?
JRW & GI:Our fundraising model currently centers on securing grants for non-profits and entrepreneurs. BrandHaiti also receives funding through Tufts University’s Institute for Global Leadership. We look to expand the organization’s capacity through for-profit ventures with small business owners in Haiti and to reinvest that revenue into the organization. Presently, we have partnered with several Haitian companies to create a line of BrandHaiti products such as jewelry, crafts, and clothing. In addition, we have partnered with Wahoo Bay Resort to create a BrandHaiti spring break program to help revitalize Haiti’s tourism industry by attracting college students. The program will include historic site visits and dinner with top Haitian business leaders.
AmNews: Why do you think African-Americans should be particularly invested in re-branding Haiti’s negative image?
JRW & GI:As the First Black Republic, Haiti maintains a special place within the African-American memory. Haiti’s struggle for independence presaged global movements for racial equality like the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The parallel history of racial oppression and the continued struggle for opportunity and equity among African-Americans and Haitians necessitates a partnership moving forward. Historically, each group has been systematically branded and stereotyped and each group’s progress is linked to debunking these negative images. Armed with resources to help fuel growth in Haiti, African-Americans stand to play a key role in Haitian socioeconomic development.
BrandHaiti’s 2nd Annual Business Symposium “Investing in Haiti: Challenges, Strategies, Opportunities” will take place in the Cabot Auditorium at the Fletcher School at Tufts University on Saturday, February 11th from 10:30AM to 5:00PM
December 28, 2011 | 9:54 am | Print
Above: Cayes-Jacmel (Photo: HTO)
By Maura R. O’Connor
When Dominican business entrepreneur Frank Ranieri wanted to get involved in tourism in the 1970s, he crossed the border into Haiti to see how it was done. “[Haiti’s tourism] was bigger than in the Dominican Republic,” Ranieri says.
Today, the tourism empire he built in Punta Cana is one of the most popular destination spots in the Dominican Republic. Out of 4 million annual tourists in the country, the resorts there receive 2.2 million. The Punta Cana International Airport (the world’s first privately owned) brings in $350 million in taxes for the Dominican government each year.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s tourism industry is essentially nonexistent today, a fading memory after decades of political instability, economic stagnation and natural disasters. It’s hard to remember that until the early 1980s, Haiti was a Caribbean destination spot for North Americans, perhaps most famously Bill and Hilary Clinton, who honeymooned on the island in 1975. After Toussaint L’ouverture International Airport was built in 1965, over 300,000 tourists were arriving by plane or sea to stay at the country’s azure beaches and buy Haitian crafts. Since then, military coups, economic sanctions and UN peacekeeping troops have kept tourists away.
Even so, before the earthquake hit in January 2010 an estimated 100,000 intrepid visitors were visiting the country. But the earthquake ravaged infrastructure in Port au Prince, including hotels like the famous Montana. As a result, there are only 800 high-end rooms functioning in the country (although a slew of new rooms is in development), and the cholera outbreak has added yet another reason to the long list of reasons people have stayed away from Haiti.
Which is perhaps why Ranieri returned to the country last month to participate in the Inter-American Development Bank’s “Invest in Haiti Forum.” Alongside Duncan Dee, COO of Air Canada, Kathleen Matthews, executive vice president of Marriott International, and Denis O’Brien, chairman of Digicel, Ranieri offered a radically positive message about the future of tourism in the Caribbean and Haiti specifically.
“We need to get into the Caribbean 50 million tourists, the same as Spain or France each year,” he told a packed room. “Haiti has to play a role in it… All that you have got in the last decades is bad news. You have to start showing people that you can come to Haiti. You’re not going to get cholera if you come to Haiti.”
Ranieri is part of a vanguard of entrepreneurs who believe Haiti can change its image in the eyes of the world, and become a destination spot for tourists. In recent years, dozens of small companies have begun “voluntourism,” “ecotourism,” and “adventure tourism” travel packages to Haiti.
It’s now possible to travel to Haiti for surfing, mountain biking, spelunking, rock climbing, hand gliding, yoga retreats, and scuba diving. In many cases, these startups see their mission as a meeting of philanthropy and commerce. The Village Experience, which brings tourists to Haiti to do community service as well as visit beaches and shop, says its mission is for travelers to have an experience “that will change their life and the lives of those around them.”
The American fashion designer Donna Karan is another entrepreneur who has her sights on Haiti. Karan, speaking at the forum, described her love affair with the country that began when she visited in 2010.
“This is probably the best year of my life,” she said. She believes Haiti could become a “Little Bali,” of boutique hotels and fine dining in tropical paradise.
“The perfect model for Haiti is Bali. [In Bali] the spirit exists, the people are extraordinary, the creativity is every place that you walk, the tourism is fantastic,” she said. It’s probably one of my favourite places.”
Whereas Indonesia takes North Americans 25 hours to get to, Haiti is just a few hours south. “The opportunity here is endless,” she said.
But can the Haiti overcome its international reputation? Can Haiti become synonymous with creativity and spirit instead of violence and poverty?
“Haiti, yes, it has problems, yes it has poverty, but we’re not trying to hide that,” Haitian Tourism Minister Stefanie Balmier-Villedrouin recently told the Montreal Gazette. “You have to put it in balance – all countries have problems, and so do we – in certain areas. But we also have regions with beautiful beaches and great cultural heritage and lovely people.”
A recent study funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre seems to back up Villedrouin’s assertions with hard data. Using data spanning from 2005 to 2011, sociologists Athena Kolbe and Robert Muggah surveyed thousands of households including tent camps after the earthquake. They found that homicides in Port au Prince dropped from 19 per 100,00 in 2004, to three per 100,000 in 2009.
The findings are remarkable. Nearby Jamaica’s homicide rate has been an average of 60 in 100,000 from 2004 to 2009, and it currently ranks as the third most violent country in the world. Nonetheless, Jamaica remains a popular tourist destination for North Americans and there is currently no travel warning to the country issued by the US State Department. Haiti has had a travel warning for at least eight years.
“It’s a question of perception,” said Valerie Louis, executive director of the private sector organization L’Association Touristique d’Haïti. “Jamaica has a lot of insecurity and ghettos, but you don’t see it…What they did was create all-inclusive projects. They block off a zone and keep tourists in. Tourists are not going into Kingston.”
In recent months, members of the L’Asssocation Touristique d’Haiti have lobbied the US State Department to alter its travel warning to the country, according to Louis. The most recent version, issued in August 2011, warns Americans of critical crime levels, kidnapping, murders, cholera, lack of infrastructure, “seasonal severe inclement weather,” and limited police protection.
“We’re not staying those things will happen to you, but we’re trying to explain to people that if something would befall you, you have to be aware,” said Jon Piechowski, spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Haiti.
Piechowski said he is unaware of any decision to alter the travel warning based on the recently- released report on crime rates in the country.
“We meet with business people and there are definitely a lot of people in Haitian business and government and especially tourism industry who I think have been very vocal about what they feel the travel literature should say,” he said. “But our commitment to informing American citizens remains. ”
Marie-Gabrielle Isidore is the CEO and Co-Founder of Brand Haiti, a national student organization that lobbies to promote Haitian tourism and foreign investment. Isidore said she believes the warnings need to change.
“So much of it is fear,” Isidore said. “We’re told, ‘Don’t go to Haiti, it’s just impoverished and its misery. But when you come here, you don’t want to leave. No danger has ever come upon me. There’s amazing beaches and resorts and if we visit those, its jobs for people.”
Brand Haiti is currently developing an “Alternative Spring Break” campaign in an effort to bring American college students to the country instead of the traditional destinations of Mexico or the Bahamas. “Young people can be at the forefront of changing perception of Haiti,” she said.
Brand Haiti is not the only force working to change the image of Haiti abroad.
Paul Bannister spent six years reinventing tourism in South Africa as an advertising consultant, and served as the acting CEO of the International Marketing Council of South Africa ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Bannister is now working with the Government of Haiti to create a similar rebranding campaign for the country.
Bannister said that transforming a country’s image is a matter of finding unique propositions, figuring out what sets it apart from other destinations. Is it the next Bali, or the Dominican Republic extended?
“I get a sense we’re going to be a little something different,” he said. “We’re going to build on it and be something the world hasn’t seen before, which is something to do with the Caribbean but a little bit more real.”
There are signs that business entrepreneurs are betting their money on the possibility that Haiti is the next Punta Cana success story.
Irish billionaire Dennis O’Brien recently signed a deal with Marriott Hotels to build a $45 million, 173 room hotel in Port au Prince, scheduled to open in 2014. A Best Western hotel is currently under construction in the capital. The lavish Hotel Karibe in Petionville is currently constructing 100 more rooms. Royal Caribbean Cruises says it is moving forward with an almost $55 million investment in Labadie, the paradisiacal beach on the country’s northern coast. The Oasis hotel is on its way toward being rebuilt, as is the country’s hotel school.
The new Haitian government under President Michel Martelly is making tourism one of its four pillars of development alongside agriculture, manufacturing and education. Currently, the Ministry of Tourism is developing strategies like attracting members of the Haitian Diaspora back to the country for vacations.
“They have the love, the only thing missing is a way for them to get here,” said Louis. “We’re trying to get our people to come back, even for a few days.”
Nonetheless, there is undoubtedly a long road ahead before Haiti becomes Little Bali, or at least a place where anyone but adventurous travelers would consider taking a family vacation or honeymoon.
Public transportation exists in the form of “tap taps,” brightly painted pickup trucks, and motorcycle taxis, but is perilous. The cost of food and amenities is extremely high compared to the Dominican Republic. Renting a car or private driver is expensive and often requires a large deposit. Due to a chronic lack of public services and resources, hotels spend large sums of money on producing their own energy and clean water, costs that inflate prices for guests.
“The biggest obstacle is expense,” said Helen Springut, 30, an American who recently went to Haiti for a week long vacation. “It’s cheap to fly there but you need a driver. In Africa, it’s $30 a day, in Haiti it’s $200 a day.”
But Springut, an experienced traveler who has gone to 55 countries around the world, said she would go again. “It was beautiful. I had a really great time… People go to Haiti and have very, very strong reactions.”
In his closing remarks at the “Invest in Haiti” conference, Bannister offered one cautionary tale to Haiti. In Kenya, Italians have built lavish resorts with Italian masons and Italian builders and Italian materials.
“All the Kenyans were able to do was clean up the rubbish bins afterwards. The money never actually touched the ground in the country,” said Bannister. Haiti may need to create “little bubbles” initially–a version of Jamaica’s all-inclusive resort models.
But ultimately, Haiti’s tourism, he said, should be a place where people get pulled “out of their bubbles.”
March 3, 2011 — 02:40 pm
“Made In —-” Re-Branding A Country for Commerce
It’s a good sign that earthquakes prompt mass shoe donations.
The response to the Haitian earthquake, for example, was a global exercise in empathy. But as global health professional Alanna Shaikh implored, nobody wants your old shoes. Because, what if water is needed more than shoes? (And no, this doesn’t mean sending bottles of water instead.) Or tarp material for tents? Or heavy-duty tractors? Stick to sending money, Shaikh wrote, because only those on the ground know what’s actually necessary.
But as anyone could have predicted, the influx of donations slowed in tandem with the slowing of media coverage. So what then? As Paul Collier and Jean-Louis Warnholz convincingly argued in The New York Times, “Haitians need something more than relief from their current situation; they need jobs that they can count on for years ahead.” Read: buying shoes from Haitians is better than giving them shoes.
Indeed, we know from a cursory glance at history that trade, not aid, lifts nations out of poverty. Dismantling trade barriers and directing investment dollars to the island are givens. But can consumers also play a role in actively promoting trade with Haiti? Enter, branding. A fresh startup, BrandHaiti, aims to help Haitian businesses grow with the help of a new brand: “Made in Haiti.” By signaling the country of origin, consumers can deliberately support job creation for Haitians.
The ‘Made in ___’ tag on goods is ubiquitous, but it’s hardly a featured brand asset. Rarely do we actually take the country of origin into account when making our purchasing decisions. BrandHaiti, however, would like to change that. Similarly, Oliberte is aiming to make ‘Made in Africa’ a simple signal for shoe shoppers. Forget donating shoes; create jobs by buying them. The company has gone from producing 200 shoes (below) with six Ethiopian workers in 2009 to a projected 18,000 shoes this year with new operations in Kenya and Liberia. Its expansion plan includes Cameroon, Congo, Uganda and Zambia.
Not only is the start-up using branding to support African business, it’s dually demonstrating the manufacturing potential of a continent – that Africa, indeed, can and does produce high-quality goods. Buyers from Urban Outfitters to high-end boutiques are stocking their shelves. And that might be the golden insight of Oliberte’s endeavor: don’t just appeal to the do-gooders; use branding to help everyone re-consider the potential of an entire region.
As Xenia Viray, a buyer from a Manhattan boutique, commented, “A lot of times, consumers don’t know where anything comes from or how it’s affecting anybody. More importantly, the shoes just look really good.” Made in Africa is not meant to be a plea to bleeding heart shoppers, but to the Urban Outfitters of the world and their customers who will come to associate Africa with well-made goods. This is a long way from shoe donations.
Oliberte’s branding strategy stands in sharp contrast to the legacy of do-gooder branding campaigns like Product (RED). During the campaign, the Gap proudly noted that its (RED) t-shirts were made in Lesotho when they certainly could have been made cheaper in China. But unlike the Product (RED) campaign, which came and went and appealed to a small segment of do-gooders in between, Oliberte has ditched cause marketing for something much bolder: don’t just buy this product to support development; buy it because it’s a high-quality product you want to buy. Because that’s what Haiti and Africa produce.
Perhaps paradoxically, this message will serve development for the better. We don’t have to market altruism to make a difference. In fact, it’s probably better that we don’t. Instead of pleading with consumers to donate shoes, or to buy t-shirts out of good will, just prove that what you’re selling is of actual value to consumers. And then remind them that yes, these were made in Africa. That’s the golden association, and that’s where the power of branding will prove its worth.
BrandHaiti is the featured cause in this week’s issue of the social action newsletter TBD. Pledget to take action to support Haiti on the TBD website.
BRANDHAITIHaiti: New and ImprovingWednesday, February 2nd
In an instant, your world can be shattered. But even after a catastrophe, humanity finds a way to recreate structures, societies, opportunities, and identity.That’s the idea behind an initiative called BrandHaiti. As the name might suggest, they’re set to give a new face to the Haitian community in the wake of the 2010 earthquake – to focus on the incredible spirit in the face of despair. The quake left destruction, but it also left remarkable stories of perseverance against all odds.After such extensive devastation, investment in the future requires thriving business, value creation, and jobs. BrandHaiti was founded as a campaign to create a meaningful “Made in Haiti” brand, as iconic as “I <3 NY” or “Got Milk?” – but with the goal of helping Haitian businesses grow. They do this by linking U.S. college students, Haitian entrepreneurs, NGOs, and major U.S. brands: this month, they’re hosting their first “Re-branding Haiti” symposium, bringing people together in order to learn about sourcing Haitian products, expanding the market for them, and supporting Haiti in other ways.
Rebuilding requires collaboration and courage. And those are things that Haitians can teach us a lot about. Amen.