Entrepreneurship is not new to Haiti; In fact, micro-entrepreneurs are leading 70% of the Haitian economy also known as street vendors. These groups of entrepreneurs only buy and sale, some succeed, other fail like in every business environment. However, there are new groups of young entrepreneurs that are re-structuring the Startups ecosystem using technology, and making it something more attractive by implementing innovative ideas to solve Haiti’s most pressing problems and simultaneously boosting the country’s economy.
The government on the other hands is recruiting young talents to understand the Startups sector better and come up with the best strategy to support and promote them. The government efforts pay off this week with the opening of the first tech incubator; ALPHA Haiti; they want to support Startups in the technology sector by offering: free working space, training, and workshops, etc.
Many International and local startups leaders were invited at the opening ceremony, including African tech investor, Tony Elumelu, Who recently invests $20 million in Africa in supporting 10,000 startups. Tony has spoken on “How Entrepreneurship significantly leads to economic growth in Africa, and what Haiti can learn about it,” he urges the Haitian government to invest in youth ideas and believes they can change the direction of this country to sustainable economic growths. Emmanuel Francois a young local leader in the local tech startups sector, who will be attending Yale University this year, was also part of this opening and demonstrated how his successful model (COCREAD and Wakanda Tech Learning Center) could reshape the sector in the next few years.
The startup sector is growing very fast in Haiti, activities like Startups Grind Port-au-Prince, Startups Grind Cap-Haitian, which is the newest Startups Grind by Google Entrepreneurs in Haiti are helping in reshaping the narrative, and improve the country image. STARTUP FESTI, The first Startups Festival to take place in Haiti also strengthen the efforts of all actors in the startup ecosystem. For a very long time, Haiti is known as the center of NGOs in the Caribbean, where often NGOs compete with businesses, even the government. Will the Startups revolution be useful in creating a sustainable economy? The result of such initiatives has been proved to be working in many countries in Africa, and Latin America, Haiti will not be an exception if it is done the right way.
In conclusion, we are assisting an economic revolution in Haiti, where priority is slowly given to young people and their ideas to become the center of it. It will require the involvements of one than more sectors, but this is the right direction to take if the government and the private sector are serious about creating a sustainable economy and compete with other countries in the region. As Tony clearly stated it during his presentation at the opening conference of Alpha Haiti; “When you support entrepreneurs, you create an ecosystem of prosperity that will benefit the country and everyone involved through a value chain.” The new generation wants to make a difference in the way business is done in Haiti, and they are definitely changing the startup ecosystem