Supporting Small Businesses and Community Organizations

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Supporting Small Businesses and Community Organizations

Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Our experience in Haiti in humanitarian development projects, previous experience in other organizations, allied to discussions and reflections held with people who share the same interests, generated a workable idea and helped mature the underlying judgment.
The “workable idea” has a very clear goal: generate businesses capable of employing other people. So we can immediately state the main and almost sole indicator of success of this project: when a candidate, who has come to us for support, grows his small business to the point he needs, is able to, and hires at least one additional person, we can open the champagne.
Peace and well-being are intimately linked to the healthy dynamics of society, and work has, if not the primary, one of the most fundamental roles. Work affects the individual person’s stability, from all points of view; it generates interactions, and it enlivens a market. Our project is thus focused on work and entrepreneurship.
The prime setting for the discovery of one’s own identity is work. To teach how to work in the strict sense, and to teach how to work as a profound belief that the other can collaborate and bring his personal input, conveys dignity and helps own-discovery.
The project is to be fully managed by people who work locally, in the field, mobilizing local resources to the limit, both human and material. Only what really and reasonably cannot be obtained locally, will be object of outside support.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are almost no jobs in Haiti. The precarious situation of the country generates and at the same time is worsened by the notorious inertia of economic activity capable of creating jobs. Approximately 80% of the active population scraps a living with informal, unstable activities, typically very small commerce. They can thus be considered unemployed, though there are no exact rates for recent years. Daily income averages a dollar and something.<p> We are aiming initially at three very different communities, related to realities we have come to know quite well:<p> - The area of Cité Militaire, in Port-au-Prince, highly affected by the 2010 earthquake. It still harbors seven huge shelters with displaced people, under dire conditions; additionally, it comprises seven "bidonvilles", or shack towns. The total population is estimated at more than 50,000. Curiously enough, this area houses also a series of factories, warehouses and other businesses that, not having escaped damage by the earthquake, do anyhow represent an interesting economic potential.<p> - The area of Gonaives and surroundings, highly impacted by recent hurricanes, and prone to desertification due to high levels of deforestation. We have met some local associations of merchants and farmers, eager to learn and network.<p> - A small community of acquaintances, of what one could call the haitian "middle clas", in Port-au-Prince, who expressed their interest in starting their small businesses.

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

Productivity and Employment<p> The goal is to support middle and low class Haitians in the creation and management of small businesses, to the point they're able to hire others. It’s predominantly a simple consultancy job: help the solid constitution of the initiatives and subsequently accompany them through a close follow-up program. Small existing ventures, who strive on the limit of survival, will also be eligible for support.<p> A second phase aimed at community based not-for-profits is also planned, but not yet laid out in this version of the project. This is a “living” document and our kick-off focus is on businesses.
Impact: How does it Work

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

A candidate for support in creating or improving his business will go through a series of steps:<p> 1. Feasibility Assessment;<p> 2. Assess Availability of Local Resources;<p> 3. Schedule Training;<p> 4. Design Follow-up Plan.<p> This is a circular process, because the successive steps can bring in new information and insights, which probably require reviewing previous steps.<p> The Feasibility Assessment will take into account a series of factors, some external, some derived from the first interactions with each candidate. Such factors are the market info (obtained through a series of different sources); the market match of the candidate's project; logistical feasibility (Haiti is particularly difficult!); the candidate's capabilities and fitness for the job; the financial soundness of the business. When the criteria contained in these factors are met, a business plan is set up. Designing the business plan will follow a simple version of a full-fledged biz plan design process. A particularly important part of the business plan design is the personnel plan, since we're aiming at creating businesses able to employ others.<p> In the future, when the organization has a pool of entrepreneurs with their businesses going, some may be called in to help assess new candidates’ ideas. Indeed, some might even be capable of providing further collaboration to our efforts, becoming real partners of the whole project.<p> The next step is Assessing the Availability of Local Resources. This is a critical, highly pedagogical and motivational piece of the proposed method. Aware that obtaining local resources can postpone the desired outcomes for candidates, we have experienced that the long-term effects in their initiatives’ strength, efficiency and success, are huge. All the available resources will be listed and sorted, along with the procedures to obtain them and the time to obtain them. This will be the basis for establishing the implementation schedule, the follow-up plan and procure external support.<p> Subsequently, all the training that the candidate needs and can be obtained will be scheduled. Some of it will be provided by us, some by partners. The cost of training should also be subject to some degree of reimbursement.<p> Finally, we design the Follow-up Plan. This is another critical piece of the whole process. A lot of the venture’s success depends on how follow-up is planned and carried out. Here are the components of the follow-up plan design: Establish goals; Estimate time-span; Establish indicators to monitor; Plan a schedule; Plan reimbursements for resources not available locally.
Sustainability

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

Our peers are not envisioned as competitors. We don't necessarily intend to grow as an organization. We intend to grow our IDEA and the NETWORK.

Comments

Tiago Maymone's picture

Hi there,
We're two friends with an idea. We have experience in social initiatives, and in business management. We've been in Haiti for humanitarian missions and the Country is in our hearts.
Together with some Haitian friends, we have an idea for Haiti. It starts small, but envisions big. Not necessarily OUR growth. The growth of the IDEA.
We're also two friends with a vision.
To start from reality, radically. To start from the individual, radically. To start from what is, radically. This encompasses protagonists, resources and context.
Then, to rely on mutual help in achieving maturity at work.
Finally, to rely on people who were captivated by something that put them in motion, generating a new kind of presence at work.