Economic Development
Daily life in Grand-Bois is difficult.
Agriculture is the sole source of revenue for the vast majority of residents. 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, usually subsistence farming on small farms (2-4 acres) on which they grow food to feed their family and to sell a small amount in the marketplace. Often, families also purchase items in Port-au-Prince to sell in the local markets.

Some members of ServeHAITI realized that to improve lives in Haiti and provide a sustainable future for residents, creating businesses and jobs would be vital. In order to better understand the economy of Grand-Bois, these members hosted an Economic Concepts Seminar in November 2011. Over 100 citizens attended the event, and by March of the following year ServeHAITI established its Economic Development Committee, or SHecon.

Through SHecon, we are working to improve economic outcomes in the Grand-Bois, Haiti through several projects

ENTREPRENEUR TRAINING:

In March 2012, SHecon began the Entrepreneur Training Program in order to identify, train, and support business owners in the Grand-Bois area. We assist these aspiring entrepreneurs in the development of business plans, provide resources required for business startup, and advise them in the growth and improvement of their businesses.

Hosted in March 2012 and November 2015, the courses cover a full range of topics, including marketing, finance, production, and quality assurance. Our objectives are to provide the tools required to address all aspects of business success and to educate the entrepreneurs about the importance of investing in their communities.

Several business plans developed through these trainings have been financed through SHecon’s Microfinance Lending Program. As businesses mature, we assist these entrepreneurs with technical and managerial support.

Dieu Vert

Mr. Dieu Vert Selynice (pronounced Ju Ver Seleniece) is a typical Grand-Boisienne. He farms (on very rocky ground) and also bakes and sells bread from his home. He and his family live up on a mountain near the Dominican Republic border. A lot of people pass by his house going to or coming from the D.R. He knew that he could sell more bread if he could produce more. He was limited by his one charcoal-fired oven, yet he could not afford to build a larger, more suitable over for his business.

SHecon recognized his potential, enrolled him in the Entrepreneur Training, 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 and opening a food and supplies store near his home.

MICROFINANCE & TAILORED-LENDING:

 ServeHAITI is 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 Courette. To date, 15 loans have been granted ranging in size from about $350-$3,600 USD, for a total of $10,500. These loans have supported several business, including bakeries and bean resellers. These loans are all currently in repayment. SHecon manages these loans each year and assists business owners with technical and managerial support.

Since the latest Entrepreneur Training in November 2015, SHecon has received newly developed business plans and hopes to award new loans once plans are evaluated. Some of the businesses proposed in the new class of entrepreneurs include:

– Raising and selling livestock

– Furniture Store

– Agricultural Supplies Store

– Selling Telephone Minutes and Accessories

– Bakery and Tilapia Farm

– Clothing Store

– Food Store

– Mango Drying and Sales

– Construction Supplies Store

OTHER PROJECTS:

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!

  • EMERGENCY SUPPORT

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.

  • ROSARY PROJECT

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/

  • AGRICULTURAL IMPROVEMENT

SHecon members are constantly working with Grand-Bois communities to discuss ways to improve agricultural techniques and productivity. SHecon has visited several areas of Haiti to observe how other groups are providing training and encouraging community collaboration for improved agricultural production.

In order to improve agricultural outcomes, SHecon also encourages collaboration within communities so that workers can learn from and support each other.

  • BUSINESS IMPACT PROGRAMS

In search of long-term solutions for economic advancement of the region & potential exports, SHecon is currently researching several industries that may fair well in the region. We are currently looking into possibilities of coffee & guava production.

 

How You Can Help the Economic Development Program

  • Become a member of the Economic Development Committee. We need people with all kinds of skills and from all walks of life. Contact us for more information.
  • Make a donation to the ServeHAITI Economic Initiative. Money can be designated specifically for economic projects. Suggested donations are $ 25 to $ 100. These funds will be combined with others for maximum impact.