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Solar Panels for Haiti Tech Center

Posted Posted by Color of Hope in Column, Education, fundraiser, Haiti Hope Ambassador, Message, Program, Technology     Comments No comments


In 2012, just two years after the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, Color of Hope launched the construction of the Hope & Innovation Center as a result of growing demands for our services and programs. The center is now the first ever community tech center in Haiti destined to bring 21st century skills to communities and youth.

Our programs range from introduction to computers to coding, from teacher training to story time, from science lab to movie night and everything in between. The best part of it all is that we take our programs on the road, even to the most remote parts of the country. Most of the programs are in their testing phases and are going great, however the NUMBER ONE issue we face in delivering these wonderful programs is the lack of electricity, and being environmentally conscious makes it even harder for us. As a Haiti Hope Ambassador, I endeavor to provide for the needs of the organization in order for us to fulfill our mission. This year, I am asking for your help to address this critical issue.

Here is what I mean; Haiti has an acute electricity problem. In Port- au- Prince, Haiti’s capital, the availability of electricity is very limited, and some regions of the country do not have electrical power at all. The average person in Haiti spends 281 days a year without electricity. The lack of electricity leads most businesses and those who can afford it to using generators to function. Our heart aches every time we must use a generator. The center is located in an area where we barely get 3 hours of electricity a day and it’s mostly during late hours. Sometimes the power doesn’t come on for days and that makes it extremely hard  to consistently deliver our programs.

The issue we face is not one without solution but we need your help. We would like to leverage Haiti’s great natural wealth of sunshine to provide a clean, conscious and sustainable solution to this grave problem.  We need your help to acquire an off grid solar system that will allow us to be consistent in delivering those needed programs to the people and put our heart at ease knowing that we are not adding to the degradation of the environment. For that, we would be forever grateful.

The impact of consistently delivering these programs would be immense. The people of Haiti are critically lagging in digital literacy and information technology.  According to the World Bank, less than 5% of the population has access to a computer and even fewer are regular Internet users. Many students in Haiti are forced to gather under street lights to study and do homework at night and most use candles which are unsafe.  The majority of Haitian citizens (56%) are under the age of 25 and they are being deprived of an opportunity to be viable contributors in today’s global economy or the local economy due to this lack of access.  Your support can help provide reliable power to achieve an impact that we can see and one that the communities in Haiti can feel.  Together we can raise and empower the next generation of Haitian leaders to create a better future.

Marli Lalanne Haiti Hope Ambassador.
“As a Hope Ambassador, I endeavor to provide for the advancement of our mission. Color of Hope’s efforts are aimed at cultivating our Haitian children’s potential to give Haiti a better future.This year, my goal is to address the critical issue of energy.”

– We thank you from the bottom of our heart for any donation and will share these tokens with you at the following levels:

$50 or more – Unity t-shirt

$100 or more – Choice of Unity t-shirt or Philosophy shirt plus wristband.

$250 or more – Unity t, philosophy, wrist band and a we remember Haiti t-shirt

$500 or more – complete set of our Save Haiti Bike Ride cycling outfit, 5th annual Save Haiti Bike Ride water bottle, wristband, and a choice of any of our T-shirts.

Bike Ride Jersey

My Trip to Haiti

Posted Posted by Color of Hope in Column, Events, Haiti Hope Ambassador, Opinion, Trip     Comments No comments

Ambassador Marli In Aquin HaitiThis past week, I traveled with fellow hope agents and ambassadors to Haiti. Right out of the airport we hopped into a taptap immersing ourselves into the Port-au-Prince experience, ready to work. Day one, we visited the center (currently under construction) and fully appreciated walking the rough steep inclines treaded regularly by our team mates in Haiti.

We met the construction workers, assessed and discussed what needed to get done and set hard goals. In the midst of all that, I managed to get a personal fashion show, click here to check it out. I also expanded my Creole vocabulary and learned what a “gren 5” is. Day two greeted me with the earsplitting choral of roosters who set the tone for the short nights and pre-dawn rises that awaited us for the rest of our stay. Every day after that brought unforgettable encounters and experiences.

I spent time with one of the most beautiful and incredible women in our team heart to heart and I’m now so proud to call her my friend. I was embraced by joyous children who spoke their mind and once again demonstrated to me how much all children, no matter where they are born are the same, pure, precious and wonderful. It reinforced my belief that given proper nurturing and opportunity our Haitian children will thrive and lead not only in the prosperity of their country but in that of the world.

Hope Agent Jean Yves and others at work

During this trip, I felt a warmth and comfort I had never before felt in Haiti. There was a fraternity that allowed our group in Haiti to express their gratitude for the knowledge we were passing on without any stifling pride or resentment. I saw how open minded our US team was and how much respect and appreciation they expressed. I saw capable Haitians from various walks of life working together and we all came out wiser and closer to one another. That completely blew me away.

Ambassador Marli at work building the Hope & Innovation Center

We are building a center for the things that are at the center of all of our hearts, our future and our children. We want our children to know what they are worth and we won’t stop until we revive our fanm ak gason vayan.

Hope Agent Suze and LounaTo the hope team who made this trip so special, Thank you! Thank you for the hard work, thank you for the courage, thank you for the love. I give it back to you ten times over as we continue on this journey of hope.

View more photos from the trip at the links below:

Hope Team in Aquin

Working Together

Building Together

Celebrate Together


Learn more about Hope Ambassador Marli 



Diaspora haïtienne, libérateurs économiques ou esclaves des temps modernes?

Posted Posted by Color of Hope in Column, HopEconomics, Opinion     Comments No comments

HopEconomics: Diaspora haïtienne, libérateurs économiques ou esclaves des temps modernes?

By Marc Saint Clair

COH Economics Program Director





Au temps de la colonie, il y avait deux types d’esclaves à Saint-Domingue : les esclaves des champs et ceux de la maison. Les ssclaves des champs comprenaient les hommes et les femmes qui accomplissaient le dur labeur manuel dans les champs ou les plantations. Leur style de vie était des plus pénibles dans des conditions les plus déplorables. Les esclaves domestiques, par contre, travaillaient et vivaient souvent dans la maison de leurs maîtres. Bien que les domestiques vivaient dans de meilleures conditions, eux et leurs enfants, tout comme leurs frères et soeurs des champs, étaient aussi condamnés dans les chaînes de la servitude pour toute leur vie.

Les compatriotes de la diaspora croient qu’ils sont des libérateurs financiers d’Haïti parce que leur transfert annuel d’argent à Haïti, estimé à 1,8 milliards de dollars américains, équivaut à près de 25% du produit interne brut total (PIB) en Haïti. Cette somme énorme serait incontestablement une force économique sur laquelle l’on pouvait compter. Mais malheureusement, au point de vue financier, cet argent en considération n’a pas atteint une dimension respectueuse. Chez nous, étant considéré comme une simple obligation de la diaspora, cet argent transféré en Haiti est loin d’ être un instrument financier viable.

Faits de la situation d’un individu moyen de la diaspora:

• Travailler 40-80 heures par semaine

• Transférer 1/3 de ses revenus à Haïti pour soutenir des membres de famille et d’autres proches

• Passer à ses enfants l’héritage du soutien de la famille en Haïti

• Individuellement, la cotisation mensuelle potentielle de 200 dollars US des membres de la diaspora ne sera pas capable de leur approcher même à un kilomètre en terme de retour d’investissement sur les accords de reconstruction signés en Haïti

• En dépit du travail manuel obligatoire que les membres de la diaspora accomplissent pour accumuler l’argent qu’ils transfèrent dans leur pays, ils ne font rien pour changer le statu quo parce qu’ils vivent plus confortablement que leurs homologues en Haïti

En 1870, Harriet Tubman utilisait clandestinement le chemin de fer, un réseau complexe de routes secrètes et de maisons d’hébergement, dans le but de libérer les esclaves du sud des Etats-Unis. Alors qu’elle essayait de libérer ces esclaves, beaucoup d’entre eux ne profitaient pas de cette opportunité qui leur était offerte. Tubman alors déclarait: “j’ai libéré un millier d’esclaves. J’aurais pu libérer un millier de plus si seulement ils savaient qu’ils étaient esclaves ”

Dans nos veines, nous autres Haïtiens, coule le sang de Toussaint Louverture, de Jean Jacques Dessalines et de bien d’autres qui sont des ancêtres illustres qui avaient changé le cours de l’histoire de l’humanité. Ils étaient des gens humbles, mais ils avaient néanmoins décidé de se mettre à la tâche de se développer une confiance mutuele qui leur conduisait aux dimensions d’une génération de libérateurs. Nous autres, fils et filles de ces héros, nous devons les dépasser. Notre génération est attendue depuis longtemps pour la performance, mais nous sommes en retard. Si vous lisez cet article en tant que membre de la diaspora et que vous sentez qu’il y a eu un problème, vous êtes probablement un héritier génétique de nos ancêtres et êtes aussi parmi chaque des six éléments sur 1000 membres de la diaspora haïtienne qui sont prêts à se mettre à la hauteur de leur tâche. Même au plus fort de la technologie, des connaissances et même avec une richesse cumulative US$ 1.8 Billion, qu’est-ce qui empêchera à la majorité des compatriotes de la diaspora d’admettre qu’ils ne sont que des esclaves des temps économique modernes?


Il y a des instruments financiers rentables qui sont aujourd’hui disponibles en Haïti, mais qui sont hors de portée pour environ 80% de la population. Deux choses sont à présent applicables :

1. Soit tous les “mounpa” se mettent à l’affaire avant qu’elle ne devienne publique ou

2. Les entreprises existantes demandent un minimum de $ 100,000 – $ 250,000 pour participer à tout accord significatif qui pourrait rapporter un revenu proportionnel à la croissance projetée d’Haïti. Le statu quo stratégique et financier est en train d’exploiter à plus de 90% la majorité des Haïtiens vivant en Haïti et à l’étranger.

Les sociétés financières ont besoin de créer des instruments pour le groupe démuni, soit environ 80% de la population. Si c’est réussi avec succès :

• Plus d’Haïtiens seront, dans l’espace d’une génération, capables de passer du niveau de la pauvreté à celui de la classe moyenne.

• Le revenu disponible augmenter substantiellement, ainsi que la consommation et la tarte entière.

• Les Haïtiens seront en mesure d’acheter des entreprises des actions à prix abordables, d’utiliser leur portefeuille à titre de garantie pour crédit, devenir automatiquement independants des banques, d’être en meilleure position pour laisser un héritage financier pour leurs enfants, par opposition à une condamnation à perpétuité dans les chaines.

Read the English version of this article here

Marc Saint Clair is COH Economics Program Director (business & entrepreneurship) and one of the Managing Partners at Haiti Ventures LLC. – Email Marc

HopEconomics – Economics for Hope


French translation by:
[email protected]” 774-826-7740

Haitian Diaspora, Economic Liberators or Modern Day Slaves?

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HopEconomics: Haitian Diaspora, Economic Liberators or Modern Day Slaves?

By Marc Saint Clair

COH Economics Program Director





Many years ago, there were two types of slaves in Haiti; field slaves and house slaves. Field slaves were slaves who did the hard manual labor in the fields of plantations. They lived the harshest life and lived in the most deplorable conditions. House slaves on the other hand worked and often lived in the house of the slave-owner. While house slaves lived in better conditions, they along with their kids were slated to be in bondage their entire lives.

The Diaspora believes that it is the financial liberator of Haiti because it’s annual 1.8 Billions in remittance equals nearly 25% of Haiti’s entire GDP. Such a sheer amount would unquestionably be an economic force to reckon with. Unfortunately, remittance money has not achieved financial respect. Furthermore, it is merely viewed back home as a mandatory obligation of the Diaspora as opposed to a viable financial instrument.

Situation facts of the average Diaspora:
-Work 40-80 hours per week. 1/3rd of income goes to Haiti to support family and loved ones
– Will pass the legacy of supporting family in Haiti to their kids
-Individually, their respective $200 monthly potential contribution will not even get them within one mile of any returnable investment reconstruction deals in Haiti
– Despite mandatory manual labor to accumulate money for remittance, they do nothing to change the status quo because they live more comfortably than their counterparts in Haiti

In 1870 Harriet Tubman used the underground railroad, an elaborate network of secret routes and safe houses, to free slaves from the south. As she tried to free some of the slaves, many resisted the opportunity. She said that “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if they only knew they were slaves”

In our veins run the bloodline of Toussaint Louverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and many more. These amazing men changed the course of humanity. They were yet simple men that took on the task to trust one another and became a generation of liberators. Sons and daughters are supposed to outdo their parents. Our generation is long overdue for performance. If you are a Diaspora reading this and felt that this has been a problem, you’re probably a genetic carrier of our forefathers and are among six out of every 1000 Haitian Diaspora that are willing to rise to the occasion. Even at the height of technology, knowledge and even a cumulative $1.8Billion wealth, why won’t the Diaspora see that it is a modern day economic slave?



Profitable financial instruments available in Haiti today are out of reach for 80% of the population. Two things apply:
1. Either all the “MP” gets on the deal prior to it becoming public or
2. Existing firms require a minimum of $100,000-$250,000 to participate in any meaningful deal that would bring a return that commensurate with Haiti’s projected growth. The status quo strategically and financially box out over 90% of all Haitians living in Haiti and abroad.

In Solution:
Financial companies need to create instruments for the other 80% of the population. If this is done successfully:

1. More Haitians will be able to catapult from poverty into middle class within one generation
2. Disposable income will increase, as well as consumption and the entire pie
3. Haitians would be able to buy affordable shares of companies, use their portfolio as collateral for credit, automatically become banked and be in a better position to leave a financial inheritance for their kids as opposed to a perpetual remittance shackle.

Read the French version of this article here

Marc Saint Clair is COH Economics Program Director (business & entrepreneurship) and one of the Managing Partners at Haiti Ventures LLC. – Email Marc

HopEconomics – Economics for Hope

Improving Access & Quality in the Haitian Education System

Posted Posted by Color of Hope in Column, Education, Opinion     Comments 1 comment

Improving Access and Quality in Haitian Education System

By Moise Derosier

Moise Derosier






On October 1, school will officially begin in Haiti. The Ministry of Education in Haiti projected that about 2.1 million excited and hopeful children will be headed back to school. Many of these children will walk several miles to attend overcrowded schools. Some will have to sit on rocks or under trees. Others will have to find a place under a couple of tin roofs standing on four sticks. Many parents will be selling their only or last goats or cows to finance the education of their children. Some parents will be borrowing money at very high and exorbitant rates from local money lenders to pay for school fees, uniforms, transportation costs, school supplies, and food. I am not being reminiscent of my own school days as a student thirty years ago, nor am I exaggerating. Here are some pictures of the so-called schools that I visited during my most recent trip to Haiti.

Haiti School

One of the things that keeps me awake at night is when I think about the quality of education that these excited and hopeful children are receiving. Is the Haitian education system preparing these children to compete in a globalized world in the 21st century? Like many, I know the answer to this question. It is a resounding, “No!” More than 30 years ago, when I was a primary school student in Haiti, I was very fortunate to have a little geography textbook from which I learned to memorize and recite this lesson: “La terre est ronde comme une boule, elle a quarante milles kilometers de tour.” Translated into English this lesson says, “The earth is round like a ball, and it has a circumference of forty thousand kilometers.” Unfortunately, the education system in Haiti has not changed much over the last 100 years. This little geography textbook is still in circulation. From it, students are still memorizing and reciting the aforementioned lesson.

I am sure that this book was published 40 years prior to my becoming a primary school student because my father learned his first geography lesson from the same little book. I am amazed that, 40 years later, the same book (cover to cover, fonts, graphics, and content) is in circulation. I was very lucky to have this geography textbook because for many of my other courses I relied only on teachers’ notes, and had no way of verifying whether the information they were teaching was factual. Many of the teachers taught from the notebooks that they had maintained when they were students. I relied heavily on the idea that my teachers were good note-takers! If you extend this line of thought, you can sense why I think a lot about the quality of education that Haitian children are receiving, and how I feel about Haitian parents who spend a major portion of their meager livelihoods hoping their kids are receiving a decent education.

Having studied education systems around the world, I understand that education systems are slow moving beasts, but in Haiti, it seems that nothing has changed despite the millions of dollars spent by both bilateral and multilateral institutions. Sometimes these institutions perpetuate, replicate, or even sustain failed systems. For instance, when you read published reports by institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank regarding education reform, you will observe that they have spent millions in the distribution of “school kits.” Can you guess what school children in Haiti are receiving in these school kits? The same little geography textbooks or history textbooks so that they can learn to memorize and recite lessons. Perhaps these institutions do not know about what goes into the school kits because some of the decision-makers at these institutions are never on the receiving end. This is why I argue that these institutions must have qualified Haitian professionals on staff. I believe the Haitian Diaspora has an important role to play in the development of Haiti, especially with educational development.

Color of Hope Teacher Training in Haiti

Around the world, education systems typically face two major challenges. The first challenge is lack of access to education. In March 1990, in Jomtien, Thailand, a global movement called Education for All began when delegates from 155 countries and representatives from 150 governmental and non-governmental organizations held a conference to reaffirm Article 26 of the Human Rights Declaration, which proclaimed education as a fundamental right. At the end of this conference, participants embraced six important goals to achieve over the next ten years. Two of the six goals were to increase universal access to education (access) and to focus on learning outcomes (quality). In April 2000, in Dakar, Senegal, delegates and representatives met again to give more impetus to education. Since 2000, many countries have made a lot of progress in increasing access of education to boys and girls, especially from vulnerable groups. For instance, from 1999 to 2007, the number of out-of-school children worldwide had declined from 105 million to 79 million. If this trend continues, by 2015, it is expected that there will be 56 million out-of-school children. According to the Global EFA Monitoring Report, the world net enrollment ratio has grown from 82% in 1999 to 87% in 2007.

Education Statistics for Haiti are hard to come by. I have been gathering bits and pieces from numerous government reports. Taken with a grain of salt, La Strategie Nationale D’action pour L’education pour Tous (2007) reported that the net enrollment ratio for the 2002-2003 school year was 76%. Haiti’s net enrollment has declined from 71% in 2006 to 68% in 2010 according to the Global EFA Monitoring Report and Haitian Ministry of Education data. While the rest of world is progressing in the area of access to education, Haiti is digressing. In Figures 2.7 and 2.8 below, I present evidence from the UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report to show how the rest of world has increased the access of education to millions of children.

Supporting the education system in Haiti
Access to education in Haiti has been grossly inadequate. One of the main reasons for this inadequacy can be explained by public underinvestment and mismanagement of the education sector. The scant statistics published by the Ministry of Education in Haiti have indicated that there are 500,000 Haitian children who have never set foot in school. There are two main factors that explain this high number of unschooled children in Haiti. The first factor is the insufficient supply of public schools. After all, the Haitian education system is a highly non-public system; 85% of schools are non-public schools. In addition, only 25% of these non-public schools are registered in the Ministry of Education’s official records. Only four other countries (Macau, Zimbabwe, Belize, and Aruba) have greater non-public ownership than Haiti (Rand, 2010).

School Haiti

The second factor is that the high financial burden of school fees for most Haitian parents is unbearable. Most parents spend a substantial portion of their income on their children’s education. For instance, the Haitian government spends an average of 1.1 % to 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, while the amount that parents typically pay for education is about 7% of the GDP (RAND, 2010). In 2011, the Haitian government’s education spending was 1.81% as a percent of GDP (MOE Plan Operationel, 2011). To put this in context, around the world in 2011, the average amount that governments spent on education as a percentage of GDP was 5%. This means that the Haitian government’s education spending is too low compared to the rest of the world. As a result, Haitian parents spend too much for their children’s education. Additionally, this problem is compounded when one considers that Haitian families tend to be large (4.5 children on average).

Furthermore, the public underinvestment is clearly seen when one looks at the inadequate supply of public schools throughout Haiti. For example, in 2010, the Haitian Presidential Commission on Education under Preval published a report that revealed that there are 145 counties out of 570 where there are no public schools, and in 23 counties there are no schools at all. This means enrolling in public schools is a prized commodity for most students. This fact is part of the history of the Haitian education system. In the past, only parents who had connections with government officials could get their children enrolled in one of those prized public schools.

Solving the problem of access to education is not insurmountable. Building schools is not so difficult, especially if we are building the so-called public schools that I have seen in Haiti. Solving the problem of access to education, however, requires visionary leadership, a skill set that is lacking in Haitian society. The world is a laboratory of experiments. Since 1990, many countries have tried many experiments to increase access to education. Brazil (Bolsa Escola), Mexico (PROGESA/Oportunidades), and Colombia (Familias en Accion) are examples of government programs that have increased school enrollment because their governments pay parents to send their children to school. In Rwanda, the government conducts massive campaigns to encourage parents to send their daughters to school. Fortunately, in Haiti, parents want to send their children to school, and that’s why parents spend a major portion of their income on education. According to some estimates, Haitian parents spend close to a third of their income to send their children to school (Wolff, 2008; GTEF, 2009). The problem is that the supply of public schools is too low, and consequently, the school fees are too high relative to parents’ income. Many parents simply cannot afford to pay the school fees. This used to be a struggle for my own parents. To this day, I am grateful to Compassion International, a non-profit Christian organization, for sponsoring my education until the ninth grade.

Solving access to education is not as difficult as improving the quality of education systems. Despite the great improvements that countries have made over the last twenty years to increase access to education, the major challenge that education systems face today revolves around their level of quality. There are many measures of education equality. I am using learning outcomes as one of the measures of quality. Typically, students’ performance on national and international standardized tests is one of the measures of learning outcomes that I have in mind. More broadly, what are the kinds of skills that students need to succeed in the 21st century? A few of these skills are problem- solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity, organization, collaboration, and cooperation. Improving the quality of a country’s education system is terribly difficult. Even wealthy countries like the United States, which spent close to $11,301 in 2007 (USD PPP) per child, are struggling to provide quality education for its students. Imagine how difficult it is for a poor country like Haiti to raise the equality of its education system when it lacks both financial and human capital resources.

In regards to raising the quality of an education system, there are two important variables that we know from educational research. The first variable is the importance of the quality of the teachers themselves. This entails the educational backgrounds of teachers and their own cognitive and natural abilities. Teachers cannot give what they don’t have. For this reason, many countries around the world have tried to raise the caliber of people entering the teaching profession, such as Korea, Finland, and Singapore. For instance, in South Korea, only the top 5% of college graduates are recruited to enter the teaching profession, and in Finland, only the top 10% of college graduates are recruited (McKensey, 2010). Results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and other international rankings of the equality of education systems show that these aforementioned countries rank at the top of educational achievement.

Color of Hope Teacher training in Haiti

The second important variable in improving the quality of education systems is about the quality of teaching itself. Countries that are highly ranked on educational quality tend to focus relentlessly on learning; that is, the pedagogical approach that teachers use to engage students in the learning process. As a result, teachers in these countries receive a lot of continuous professional development training opportunities to help enrich and improve their teaching craft. According to the Presidential Commission on Education in Haiti, only 20% of elementary teachers are qualified to teach at that level and 50% of teachers at the high school level are not high school graduates themselves.

This means that teachers in the Haitian education system lack both content and pedagogical knowledge. This is so critical because in most advanced societies today, teachers must at least be college graduates in order to enter the teaching profession. The highly ranked countries are very selective in the kinds of college graduates that they allow to enter the field of education. In Haiti, a low percentage of teachers have attended university or teacher training schools. At the primary level, only 5% of teachers are college graduates (GTEF, 2009, see Graphe 15 below). It is no surprise that the quality of the Haitian education system is low and the teaching methods used are outdated. The teaching methods most commonly used are recitation and memorization. While memorization skills are important, we know that these skills are not sufficient to enable students to compete in the 21st century.

When it comes to implementing two of the most important variables to improve the quality of education, Haiti is failing miserably. In 2012, for the annual national exit exams, only 30% of students passed the “Retho examination.” This exam is similar to twelfth grade state exit exam in the United States. In the thirteenth grade, 60% of students passed their exams. These passing rates are yet another indicator of the low quality of the education system in Haiti. I suspect a large percentage of the students who passed are those who attend a few highly selective and highly privileged schools. Now, imagine the disappointment of the poor parents who spent their meager livelihoods in the education of their children with the hope that their children will receive a decent education.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has indicated that by 2030 he would like for Haiti to become an emerging country. For that to happen, the Haitian education system must be one of the most important pillars of economic and social development. Essentially, human capital resources are the most important assets any country. In 1964, Nobel Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, has provided great insights on the importance of human capital. It seems to be a mute point to argue that Haiti has to increase both access and quality in its education system. However, any thoughtless policy decision that increases access could deteriorate quality. For instance, if policymakers increase the number of students without a corresponding increase in the number of teachers and classrooms, then student to teacher ratio will increase. As most teachers know, class size matters. So, Haiti faces this conundrum: it must increase access while improving the quality of its education system.

Moise Derosier is COH Education Program Director. He has organized and facilitated professional development trainings for teachers and school directors in Haiti. Moise holds a Master’s Degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University, where he was named a Noel McGinn FellowEmail Moise






The Travesty of Haitian Entrepreneurs in Haiti

Posted Posted by Color of Hope in Column, HopEconomics, Opinion     Comments 1 comment

HopEconomics: The Travesty of Haitian Entrepreneurs in Haiti

By Marc Saint Clair

COH Economics Program Director





Note that there are two types of entrepreneurship; Necessity entrepreneurship and Opportunity entrepreneurship. The focus of this article will be mostly on Opportunity entrepreneurship. Necessity entrepreneurship is the practice of entrepreneurship where the lack of opportunity or employment leads one to start a business to sustain life and the household. Opportunity entrepreneurship is when an entrepreneur sees a problem and a market and creates a solution for the problem.

According to doingbusiness.org, Haiti ranked 180 out of 183 economies in starting a business. There are elements that are unknown to the world that Haitian entrepreneurs face on their journey. As a result, through time, it has become readily easier to become a nation that depends on handouts and donation as opposed to climbing the ladder of entrepreneurial success. 
Haitian entrepreneurs have a more challenging journey in comparison to their comparables in the Caribbean region and the rest of the world. There are six major areas that I will highlight that are pain points for Haitian entrepreneurs in Haiti.


Hunger is by far the worst weapon that exists on this planet. To prevent your household from falling prey to it, you sell your body and even your integrity. If you are busy hungry, you won’t have time to solve the world’s problem. In order to successfully work on a business, entrepreneurs need to be in an ecosystem where the need for food, shelter and security are temporarily met. Stressors such as eminent need for food and shelter are short term present needs that affect an entrepreneur’s decision to engage in opportunity entrepreneurship. For this reason, would-be entrepreneurs as well as the majority of the Haitian population practice scorched-earth entrepreneurship. This is a condition where the entrepreneur will do anything to get the first payment from you and burn the bridge right after the first payment regardless of the consequences. For this reason, Diaspora and other businessmen in Haiti are weary of going into business with would be untested Haitian entrepreneurs.

Prototyping & Proof of Concept
Businesses that are starting usually need to create a proof of concept in order to get financing. It is also an essential test to find out if the proposed idea has legs to stand on. For Technology Company it is a milder version of the system. For a retail business it is a list of existing customers. For a Hotel business it is a pile of letters of intents and contracts. In order to do that, you must be able to use the bootstrap approach, wit and ingenuity to bring in the various stakeholders to make what seem as a dust in the wind a solid and sure thing. It is hard to reach anyone in Haiti. It is virtually impossible to connect with decision makers for potential partnership. Unfortunately, due to many reasons including security, an entrepreneur can travel to a key decision maker’s office every day for 3 months and not get a chance to talk to anyone. It is impossible to get an engineer with cutting edge technology knowledge to embark on an unsure journey with you for free. Lastly, there is the expertise challenge. Those that would be willing to help probably do not have cutting edge knowledge and technology to help.


Entrepreneurs usually look to family, friends and fools to get money to launch their venture. Given the economic structure and poverty prevalence in Haiti, in my estimation, well over 95% of the entrepreneurs do not have access to family, friends or fools that all together can lend them more than $1,000 to start a business.

Microfinance usually has a ladder system. You borrow between $10- $50 and return the money. Over time they trust you with more in a very calculated ladder system. For most opportunity entrepreneurship initiatives, starting microfinance money is not even enough to buy enough ink to write the idea on paper let alone creating a pilot.

Banks will not lend if you have no cash flow, history, family name, connection or collateral. Since the earthquake, the collateral inventory in Haiti has been significantly reduced.

USAID and grant money are urban legends. For some reason, they all end up doing some training that really add no kick start value to the cycle of opportunity entrepreneurship. Talk to Haitians on the street looking for jobs. They all have 2-7 of these diplomas from these trainings and still cannot create or find a job. Everyone end up with a diploma that is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Business plan competitions help identify great writers and public speakers.The competition is clustered about training (yes more training) and giving a handful of people a check. All of them miss the true value of these competitions. Bringing in key decision makers to give entrepreneurs access to these people ought to be the key components of these event. Instead, they give a check to the better writer and articulator at the end and pat you on the back. No market connection, no pulling strings for the winner to get sales.

Cost to Register
It cost approximately $4,000 just to register your business in Haiti. If you are an entrepreneur earning minimum wage of $5 per day that would like to incorporate, you would need to work for 3 years and 2 months consecutively and save every dollar earned just to have enough money to incorporate the company. Don’t feel bad for Haiti, there is one other country out of all 183 countries in the world that has it worst than us. The Democratic Republic of Congo has a 5.5 year cost of income per capita ratio. Entrepreneurs would have to save all their money earned for 5.5 years just to incorporate. In comparison, an entrepreneur from Rwanda can easily save all his minimum wage earnings for a period of 17 days and have enough to incorporate his company. Rwanda is ranked #45 out of 183 countries in starting a business. 
Time is a sensitive issue. Opportunity cost does not wait. If the entrepreneur was planning on developing a technology company, by the time the entrepreneur raises the money to incorporate, the technology is probably obsolete.
As a result, very few entrepreneurs formally register.


Time to Register

It takes an average of 105 days to register a company in Haiti. In Jamaica, it takes about 7 days to register. Again we are not the worst; there are 5 other countries out of 183 that take longer than Haiti to process a registration. Nevertheless we always find a way to be at the very bottom of every meaningful list. What this means is that if you are the average entrepreneur that finds out about a last minute opportunity such as a business plan competition that requires you to incorporate, then you lose the opportunity because you have to wait over 3 months to register. This is the same for an investment pitch opportunity.

Now that the entrepreneurs overcame all the challenges above, they are rewarded with being on about three different list of kidnapers. For some reason, it is the people close to you or others in the neighborhood watching your slow ascension to success. In the need to capitalize on easy income, they talk to amateurs and established kidnappers to hold the entrepreneur for ransom. After a Kidnapping journey, the next kidnapper realized how much you pay, and then they want to have a turn. Finally the third one.




If you need to feed the family or have eminent need for cash as opposed to develop a venture there are no ways around it. There are simply mild countermeasures.
1) You can focus your search for jobs within the same industry to develop contact list for partnership.
2) Find reliable and resourceful team members to divvy up work
3) Reach out to Diaspora family and friends with a solid plan. Even if you have to pull 20 Diaspora families for $200 from all the team members, you’d raise about $4,000 for your new venture. Make sure you have a contract. They strongly believe in it.
4) Keep your word!

Find Haitian Engineers living outside of Haiti on Linkedin.com or on Facebook. Join Haitian professional groups and ask for prototyping advisers. If you find the right person, you might get more than just advice.


1) Pull together with your church group
2) Start a small investment group with like minded people
3) Ask people with money for advice. They love talking and giving advice. Let them know how you have been progressing. Eventually they will trust you with money. Never ask for money directly, especially if you meet them the first time. 
Get as much done as possible with limited resources. Be a chess master. If you are in Haiti, partner with a Haitian Organizations outside of Haiti to get them to connect to key decision makers for you in Haiti to drive sales. Attend as many events as possible.

Cost to Register
1) Government registration fees should not be more than $100 US. They will make it up in volume.
2) Government should automate the registration process.

Time to Register

Just cut it down to 15 business days. It is possible.

1) Haitian Government should reverse the abolition of the death penalty in Haiti. This will reduce the inventory of would be kidnappers and future deportees to Haiti.
2) Haitian Government should create a rewards program for people that give reliable tips that lead to a successful conviction of kidnappers.
3) As a successful entrepreneurs, always let others around you know that things are not as well with you as they look. Don’t flaunt your success. Be humble!

Marc Saint Clair is COH Economics Program Director (business & entrepreneurship) and one of the Managing Partners at Haiti Ventures LLC. – Email Marc

HopEconomics – Economics for Hope


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