The developing world never ceases to amaze me. Every day is an adventure. Port-au-Prince is brimming with spontaneous activity. On every street corner seats at least 10 street merchants selling goods ranging from all sorts, shapes and sizes. But regardless of all this hustle and bustle I have unfortunately noted little productivity. The streets are still framed plastic bottles; tents make up the majority of public spaces.
That was until today.
I had the opportunity to visit 30 innovative women at two different incubators in the city of Port-au-Prince. One was in Martissant, an area which has been heavily ravaged by the January 12 earthquake and the other Cite Soleil, one of the biggest and most dangerous slums within the Port-au-Prince region.
HPCD, a nonprofit organization which specializes in job creation and sustainability among small business entrepreneurs has partnered with the Minustah on a project entitled ‘Reduction Violance Communautaire’. This project focuses on entrepreneurial women which have been victims of violence in their respective communities. HPCD has provided a safe venue, an incubator, for these women to produce their products and services, and have afforded them financial support throughout their tenure . Through this project they have been equipped with basic leadership, business management, marketing, and accounting skills which they acquired through a six month course to establish a solid base for future economic, environmental, and social success.
Each of these women has a riveting story. Many have lost everything in the earthquake which recently devastated the nation and given their status of 2nd class citizens have endured recurring persecution amongst their spouses, peers, and community. These women are naturally skilled in the products they have chosen to manufacture and are tasked with the objectivity to appoint employees which serves as a support for them while ensuring further job creation. Throughout this program these women have become leaders in their community and have literally risen from the rubble. But while I noted great progress and productivity among a number of the women I met today regrettably many of their businesses will not flourish outside of the incubator.