When I first heard about the opportunity to go to Haiti along side the painstakingly funny Lisa Mckinney and some of the brightest minds the Culver House Business School had to offer, I thought that would never be something I could muster up the courage to do. I went to a few of the HERD (Haitian Economic and Research Development Team) meetings with no expectations. WOW I was blown away. Everyone there was so involved and committed to making even the smallest difference for the rustic entrepreneurs of Gallet Chambon, Haiti.
After a few meetings we planned (planned is a loose term to use when working with the laid back culture of the Haitians) on providing lessons on basic knowledge needed to start their own business venture and had research initiatives ready to hit the ground to explore the unknowingly intricate Haitian society. With a small promise from Lisa that I would fall in love with the people of Haiti, I packed my bags and followed the HERD.
When people think of Haiti many think of earth quakes, rebellions, and political unrest, I honestly could not tell you what exactly I expected. I was told very little before the trip, which honestly made this much more of an adventure. We had the hopes of helping start small businesses with the intended benefit of strengthening the economic market. But how do you help start a business in Haiti without knowing what the Haitians needed? (later posts will inquire more)
The program started off as a week long venture to teach business skills and financial literacy to members of the Haitian community, but through many draining trips the program has transformed to focus also on business consulting and advisory of anything to elementary schools and motor cycle shops. Another member and I did countless hours of research prior to the trip with the anticipation of uncovering some Haitian artisans whom we can help sell their products on a website in the United States.
With optimism to make a difference, we boarded the plane at four in the afternoon and was off to what would be the beginning of a life changing week. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were going on a journey of overwhelmingly humble encounters and lots of fresh mango.