Entrepreneurs for Empathy

Entrepreneurs for Empathy

Duchity, HaitiNaperville, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are seeking to provide education modules for the promotion of social entrepreneurship in the developing world.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The hardworking people of Duchity, Haiti, live in isolation from the global economy. They struggle with the basic issues of poverty: sanitation, unemployment, education, and infrastructure. Our initial investigation showed that though the people desire to improve their lives through entrepreneurial efforts, they do not possess essential business acumen to do so. For 13 years, St. Thomas Parish has provided primary and secondary education preparing students for university entrance. Though successful in this regard, the program fails to provide complementary entrepreneurial education to identify viable markets and create sustainable businesses for those not able to continue their schooling. A hopeful people, they have the potential to prosper if supported with appropriate resources.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Appropriate education is the foundation for continual improvement in earning potential and quality of life. We wish to provide the necessary jump start for such an education by creating education modules that provide students with the skills needed to make successful economic/business decisions. Working with professionals and faculty, we are developing this program (both classroom based and experiential) that will include thinking critically, assessing market needs, and developing business plans. Often, it is assumed this is an innate capacity of humans, but that is not the case. With education, life improvements are possible. By piloting the project, revising as necessary and subsequently teaching the teachers, we will not only make a sustainable impact but also position ourselves to replicate our solution in other regions.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In January 2012, we traveled to Duchity to engage in social entrepreneurship exploration. We expected to receive proposals for business initiatives and did. However, it was a clear there was a significant lack of basic business/economic knowledge. The desire for business was there, but the ability to see it through was lacking. Other NGO’s that we have spoken to called this a lack of entrepreneurial ability. It is not. It is simply a lack of the skills and resources one draws on to create a small scale business to pull oneself out of poverty. We will develop curricular modules to teach applicable business concepts at locations in Duchity, model the implementation of these modules, and then train the educators on implementation. The modules will be created to address the basic notions of market determination, business sustainability, how businesses are run, basic organizational structure and additional tools required to begin and grow a business. This will be piloted for secondary school students directly in school and as an extension module for those who have already completed their education. As the modules would include an experiential l component, a very small scale business will be created for the participants to have a hands-on opportunity to apply the ideas being taught. This could serve as a funding source for the next project the participants create. As the program grows the education modules will continue and mentoring of small businesses will grow and expand, providing the foundation for Haitians to empower themselves to improve their quality of life.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Duchity is an incredibly remote town and given the poor economic state of Haiti, there are no competitors in the provision of education for small entrepreneurs. As we spoke with different groups, we discovered great resonance for the need for this type of education and a number of organizations that would benefit from it. Groups that are seeking economic advancement for the people of Duchity include AFAD (a women’s development group), FIDA-PCH (an agricultural co-op), CLAID (student literacy and development group), public schools, and community organizations promoting sanitation and clean water, but none of them focus on the education that is so important to their success. We were repeatedly asked to help provide more appropriate education to those who could not pursue university studies.
About You
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Twinning Program in Partnership with St. Marie-Madeline
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Twinning Program in Partnership with St. Marie-Madeline

Organization Country

, IL, Naperville, Dupage County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, GA, Duchity

Your role in Education


The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Private (tuition-based)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

We are seeking to provide education modules for the promotion of social entrepreneurship in the developing world.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

If business acumen was innate, the breadth of poverty would not persist. Entrepreneurial education is an innovative way to improve lives

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Through the Helzberg Initiative of the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University, we obtained funding for an exploratory trip to Duchity, Haiti. After meeting with community members and established NGO’s in the region, we were able to pinpoint specific areas that were lacking in Duchity, namely the availability of clean water, market outlets, and relevant educational opportunities. We have built a comprehensive report, regarding more efficient ways to serve these needs. Additionally we have initiated a campaign to raise funds for water filters for the area and have begun researching market outlets for their products. This grant request is focused on the third area: educational modules for social entrepreneurship.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Over the next 1-3 years, we will design our education modules, pilot the modules in different venues, create a small business to apply the concepts taught, assess our outcomes making any necessary revisions to the modules, and then teach the teachers how to continue the program. In enacting this plan we will effect change that benefits the current generation of students and generations to come. By creating this curriculum which fosters economic/business education and subsequently higher earning potential, we can not only express the empathy we feel toward the poor of Duchity but also activate the empathy of the learners towards their community.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Language is a barrier. However, we found translators to be a great resource for Haiti’s culture, especially since ours are well respected in Duchity. We are also pursuing Creole lessons. Another barrier in the school context could be teacher buy-in. Through effective communication and the support already garnered from officials, this barrier should be overcome. For the educational extension, location could be a challenge, but there are possibilities at St. Marie-Madeline Parish, St. Thomas School, and AFAD. The obstacle of monitoring the small business from a distance will be overcome by using a Haitian businessman/translator with experience to oversee the activity.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

To create our modules, in order to launch our entrepreneurial education program

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Design modules to promote social betterment through entrepreneurship

Task 2

Continue to build relationships in Duchity, gain wider program acceptance, establish locations and timeframes for implementation

Task 3

Complete planning for implementation and identifying small business project

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

To pilot, assess, and revise modules, creating a sustainable social entrepreneurship program

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Travel to Duchity to implement modules

Task 2

Initiate a small business as experiential learning tool

Task 3

Make any necessary revisions based on our first implantation and begin training teachers

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

We traveled to Duchity to pursue social entrepreneurship possibilities. We were open to any outcomes but none of us expected education to be what was needed. However, after we met with several groups, it was evident that this was a significant need. For example, CLAID students were unable to answer the basic questions of a business plan, despite asking for funding; agriculture co-ops were increasing productivity but didn’t know how to find markets. We could see the creativity and drive of the people which suffered from a lack of practical skill. We hope that we can share the skills we have with the students and people of Duchity, allowing them to increase their own earning potential. We empathized with them and their desire to learn and grow. We realized that in designing education modules we can help individuals empower themselves to improve their quality of life and inspire others.

Tell us about your partnerships

We partner with St. Thomas Parish in Illinois, who has been in Duchity for 13 years. With their support we have begun our work creating our modules. Additionally, we are partnered with their twin parish, St. Marie-Madeline, a strong force in the community. On our trip we established relationships with St. Thomas Secondary School, Jean Claude Primary School, AFAD (a women's group), FIDA-PCH (an agricultural co-op) and CLAID (a student group). Our initial trip was supported by Rockhurst University through a Helzberg Foundation grant designed to support social entrepreneurship exploration.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

We currently have two faculty and eight students (but are growing in numbers) to create modules to create the modules and travel to implement them. Additionally, we have support from all groups indicated above to learn and carry-on the project.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We are primarily seeking financial support for the costs of implementation travel to Duchity. The faculty and students are providing their time pro bono because of their dedication to these efforts and the people of Duchity. We are dedicated to seeing empathy in action through education. We would be happy to share ideas with other NGO’s and help implement our modules across the developing world.