Agriculture is the sole source of revenue for the vast majority of people in Grand-Bois. Field crops, primarily edible beans and corn, are grown in the most fertile parts of the region. Farmers also produce a variety of other crops and raise livestock to diversify revenue sources. There is little economic activity or employment outside of agriculture.
Through ServeHAITI’s Economic Development Committee (SHecon), we are working to improve economic outcomes in Grand-Bois, Haiti. Our objective is to provide training and allocate resources in a manner that increases farm productivity, reduces the costs of living, and creates private sector enterprise and job growth.
In March 2012, SHecon began the Entrepreneur Training Program to identify, train, and support potential entrepreneurs in the Grand-Bois area. We are working with these aspiring entrepreneurs on developing business plans, sourcing resources required for business startup, and teaching them how to grow or improve their current business.
The courses cover a full range of topics including: marketing, finance, production, quality assurance, and much more. The objective of these trainings is to give the entrepreneurs tools to address every aspect of business success, and to learn about the importance of investing in their communities.
MEET DIEU VERT SELENYCE
Dieu Vert is is a typical Grand-Boisien. He farms (on very rocky ground) and also bakes and sells bread from his home. He was limited by his one charcoal-fired oven, yet he could not afford to build a larger, more suitable oven for his business. SHecon recognized his potential, enrolled him in the program, and helped him develop the skills necessary to grow his business. He was also awarded a loan to purchase a moulin (bread-kneading machine) and a propane-gas oven (the first known use of propane to cook in Grand-Bois). His business grew, he paid back his loan, and he is now looking at expanding his bakery and opening a food and supplies store near his home.
Microfinance & Tailored-Lending
At ServeHAITI, we are committed to improving the lives of Grand-Bois citizens by providing access to capital. In June of 2013, SHecon awarded its first loan to support a bakery in Grand-Bois. ServeHAITI has granted a total of 20 loans ranging in size from $350 – $3,700, for a total of over $22,000 loaned to date. These loans have supported 4 local bakeries, a goat farm, an agricultural supply and equipment store, as well as individual bean resellers.
14 loans have been repaid in full, while the rest are currently in repayment. SHecon manages these loans each year, while continuing to assist business owners with technical and managerial support.
In addition to our Entrepreneurial Training & Microfinance Lending Programs, ServeHAITI’s Economic Development Committee (SHecon) works hard to improve the economic landscape of the region while creating sustainable solutions for the future. We are working with communities to improve agricultural productivity, progress animal husbandry, encourage community collaboration, and much more!
Life in Haiti is often met with unexpected circumstances. During the summer of 2015, Grand-Bois saw an influx of Haitian refugees that were deported from the Dominican Republic as a result of a 2013 Dominican court ruling that stripped tens of thousands of ethnic Haitians born in the DR of their citizenship. Left with no home, no belongings, and no income, SHecon supported some of these individuals and families with financial assistance to get them back on their feet. Situations like this and other crises have warranted immediate response from ServeHAITI, and SHecon will continue to assist in emergency situations when appropriate.
Through the work of Father Bill Kneemiller of Iowa, ServeHAITI has partnered with The Holy Land Military Rosary program to provide much needed employment in Grand-Bois, Haiti by hiring workers to create rosaries. The olive wood material for the rosaries is purchased in the Holy Land and provides the sole means of livelihood for the people there. The supplies are transported to workers in Haiti who are trained and paid a living wage to assemble the rosaries. The rosaries are then transported back to the U.S. and donated to members of the U.S. military serving around the world. This partnership continues to provide an employment opportunity to some of the neediest people in the Grand-Bois area. Although SHecon is a collaborator in this project, it is thanks to Father Kneemiller, this project continues to be funded. You can learn more about the program at http://holylandmilitaryrosary.org/mission/