Meet our speakers and hear what they say about their experience in Haiti in June 2014.
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Mangifera indica – also known as Mango – seems to play an important role on this Caribbean island. Not only is it available on nearly every street corner, it also had a major part in the Economics for Entrepreneurs Class given by Katja Krafczyk and Felix Harms.
Like every morning, the students as well as the instructors had to travel to Université Quisqueya from their houses and hosts. For some students it takes as much as two hours to get to class. As the traffic is always busy during rush hours, classes usually start a little later. But the mixture of the local Caribbean culture and the high motivation of the participants makes nobody ever complain about it.
To explain the basics of Economics, Katja and Felix used a simple and common good: Mangos. What does a supply and demand curve look like? What happens if I raise the price of the Mangos I am selling? How can I use the imperfect market to increase the profit I make with my fruits? In groups, the students were asked to apply the content that they learned in class to their businesses. What is the best price, given the fact that I want to maximize my profit? The participants came up with lots of ideas and strategies that were discussed enthusiastically.
In the evening the speakers joined the local Rotary Club at their weekly meeting to inform about the first results of the camp. The Rotary Club de Petion Ville was and still is highly supportive for the camp.
To summarize this day – by using the Mangos as a commodity, the participants got introduced to the basics of economics. During the class, not only the students were able to learn from the speakers, but also the speakers were able to gain insights about the Haitian market.
One week into the camp after countless hours of preparation and few hours of sleep, the team behind the Entrepreneurship Camp 2014 took a much needed timeout and headed to the beach. Although tourism isn’t a major industry in Haiti, it was once known as ‘La Perle des Antilles’ and is, after all, surrounded by the heavenly turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. ‘Taíno Plage’ is a popular getaway for expats living in Port-au-Prince and we spent the day enjoying the sun, a boat trip to a secluded beach, playing water frisbee, snorkeling, a few beers, delicious local seafood and fresh fruit. “As happy as we are working so hard and so long into the night every single night since being here, we all needed a moment of peaceful reflection”, says photographer/videographer Toby Fried who is one of the camp’s staff members and responsible for communications. “Time to process a lot of information, think of how to improve, and face the second week with renewed strength and energy – hopefully!”
Do you ever get frustrated when you do everything you can to accomplish a dream that you hold dear, but all odds turn against you? If yes, that’s exactly how Nicholson felt- a very highly determined and motivated entrepreneur who is participating in Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014 – frustrated and discouraged. Once he graduated from high school, he wanted to study medicine abroad. He decided to apply for a scholarship, but he was rejected at least twice. One day, a friend lent him a motivational book. After reading this book, Nicholson decided to create opportunity for himself. He accompanied a friend to go visit a place where he could buy goods to sell.
There are opportunities in every difficulty, and to him it was an opportunity to start his own business. That was the day that changed his life. A spirit of entrepreneurship found its way in him. With no capital, he was cherishing his business idea. He asked advice from his friends. Some of them were negative towards that idea, but he decided to listen to his heart and took the risk.
One day, he gathered together a group of friends and set up a “SOL”. SOL in the Haitian Creole is defined as a group of people who put together the same amount of money. One of the group members is responsible to hold the money. Every week, a group member is selected to receive it. Nicholson was the first to take the money, then he decided to invest it in his own business. Now, 90% of his income comes from his business. He imports mainly cleaning products from Dominican Republic, then sells them to his friends, and neighbors. Now his goal is to attract more customers; therefore, he comes to participate in Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014 to enhance his marketing skills and develop a good market strategy. Nicholson made his idea feasible because he didn’t sit around waiting until he was one hundred percent confident and certain about his business idea. He took the risk because to him, no risk, no reward.
Nils Hermann-an entrepreneur from Germany who decided to share his knowledge with the Haitian entrepreneurs through Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014.
In his sessions, he taught them the importance of and how to develop a vision and a mission statements to better define their business models, and to be able to set up strategic plans. To him, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Emphasizing the importance of knowing the strong and weak spots and the environment of a business, Nils introduced the participants to the SWOT Analysis. And the participants had the chance to transfer it into their own business ideas.
The second day, he started with a discussion on the Business Model Canvas, focusing on different Revenue Models. Bringing the learning of the both days together, the participants had the chance to use the Canvas for their own Business Models and improving them with the findings from their SWOT Analysis.
In the final session, Nils shows how to set up a road map with Milestone to successfully start their own business.
Flore Somon is aspiring to open her own honey company in the footsteps of her grandfather, whose own honey business failed due to issues with location. She is interested in honoring her grandfather’s tradition by producing handmade high-quality honey, which she has discovered through her research has therapeutic properties and is good for the skin and general health. Her long-term goals include plans for national production. Flore chose to attend this entrepreneurship workshop to learn more about how to plan and prepare a startup, and to get feedback from professionals and fellow participants on her ideas.
Flore studies informatics at École Superieur Infotronique d’Haiti. She loves nature, and is proud of her Haitian culture, and wants to make the best possible product for her people.
Many people have business ideas. Ideas they think that will impact a certain target group. But how do they know that they certainly will? To some people, it is a mysterious process, but Robin Balser – a young entrepreneur from Germany – showed the keys to success today at Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014.
Robin used the Business Model Canvas as a tool to allow them to come up with ideas of how they would describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot their business model. He broke the class in small groups and have them identify a certain problem and bring up solution to it. Then, he had some one-to-one sessions to provide guidance on how each participant can improve specific areas in his business.
To him, it is critical to assess the attitude and behavior of the potential customers, and identify the need there is to meet because life is too short to build something nobody wants.
Robin worked for the Startup Accelerator Startup Wise Guys in Estonia and in London. Part of this was being a representative holding workshops and speaking at: Creazone.it in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Jean Ricot Antoine, or just Ricot, is the owner-operator of a transportation business in Port-au-Prince and runs a small fleet of trucks, carrying raw material from the mines at Laboule to a refinery plant for processing into concrete and construction materials. He is also involved in a project that will fund a water truck to sell potable water to residents of the region, and use the profits to provide clean drinking water to an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. In addition, Ricot has dual citizenship in the United States, having lived in Georgia and Miami, Florida — operating a similar business there for several years. A self-described “hustler” and businessman, Ricot is charismatic, open, and willing to challenge conventional ideas.
Ricot is attending the Entrepreneurship Camp to gain a better understanding of how to legitimize and grow his existing businesses, as well as branch out into wider markets. He is in the process of incorporating his business to that end, seeking greater financing and a larger team to work under him. He had a strong interest in today’s topic of strategy, and in particular would like to continue to learn about concepts such as SWOT Analysis — Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat — to improve his business chops.
Alexandra Heinrich gets some fresh air between lectures on day 3 of the Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014, outside a classroom at Université Quisqueya, Port-au-Prince. Alex is the program coordinator for the camp, and is in charge of managing the core staff’s individual responsibilities and scheduling, among many other tasks. She will also be presenting a training on cost accounting on Monday, June 9th to open week 2 of the camp’s programming.
Alex is a project manager for Lufthansa Technik Landing Gear Services in London. She joined the team to pass on her knowledge to those who seek it, in order to fulfill her dream for involvement in the social welfare of people worldwide. Since entering Haiti, she has discovered that she loves eating mangoes, in the traditional Haitian way — with her bare hands and teeth!
Day 2 of Haiti Entrepreneurship Camp 2014 brought the program’s first guest speaker out of many to come. We were glad to have Etzer Emile — a young Haitian professor of Economics, finance and Marketing at Quisqueya University — lecture on the topic of “Basic Finance”. Participants learned basic concepts of:
- the role of profitability in a company.
- the different types of costs and calculating company’s profitability.
- a balance sheet
The topic was popular to the group, the core team decided to return to the topic on Monday with a new guest lecturer.
Now we are glad to welcome Robin Balser and Nils Hermann. Robin Balser is the founder of several Startups, he will lecture on “Business Model Canvass”. Nils Hermann is the founder of Innovation thinktank and involved in multiple social projects. He will cover the topic of “Corporate Planning”.