Résolvons la crise une fois pour toutes !

haiti-police-raid-riot

 

L’augmentation du prix des produits pétroliers en Haïti a suscité beaucoup d’actes de violence et a entrainé des pertes de vies humaines. Cette augmentation était une tentative maladroite du gouvernement de résoudre un sempiternel problème :  les dépenses de l’Etat Haïtien qui surpassent ses recettes. On ne s’était pas réveillé un beau matin le mois dernier et s’était retrouvé avec ce problème sur les bras. Il est chronique. A ne pas le tacler, les répercussions et augmentations ne seront pas seulement limitées à l’axe des produits pétroliers. Mesdames et messieurs Haïti encourt le risque de devenir un autre Venezuela avec une inflation rampante et incontrôlable et une monnaie encore plus dévalorisée. Imaginez que le taux d’aujourd’hui est de cent Gourdes pour un dollar et en moins d’un mois il en faudra cent vingt pour le même dollar avec la perspective que cette descente aux enfers est loin de s’arrêter…une dégringolade sans fin de la Gourde !

La situation décrite dans le précédent paragraphe se concrétisera dans l’absence de mesures d’austérité implémentées aussi vite que possible. Il est à craindre qu’avant trop longtemps la Banque Centrale (BRH) sera dépourvue de mécanismes pour ralentir la chute de la Gourde. Qui plus est, les derniers évènements ont exacerbé la situation en fragilisant d’avantage l’économie. Le bilan est lourd : les entreprises ont été pillées, des hôtels saccagés avec de touristes qui ne retourneront plus, des voitures des concessionnaires d’automobiles incendiées, la douane à Malpasse détruite, pour ne citer que cela. Il en résultera, au demeurant, une diminution substantielle des recettes du gouvernement qui promet d’assumer ses responsabilités auprès des entreprises durement touchées.

Quelle est donc la solution à ce problème ?

Vu la gravité de la situation toutes les démarches de solutions doivent être diamétralement opposées au cheminement qui a conduit au problème en premier lieu. Le vieil adage aux grands maux, les grands remèdes est d’application ici. Il est impérieux que les leaders politiques soient bien imprégnés de la notion de la criticité de l’heure et que leurs actions soient congruentes aux sacrifices qui sont nécessaires à redresser la barre. Les actions isolées telles que l’augmentation du prix du carburant ne suffiront pas. Il faut une approche globale où l’on appréhende tous les aspects du problème, dans sa totalité. Précisément, il y a deux inconnus dans cette équation. Il faut augmenter les recettes et en même temps contrôler les dépenses. Comment demander aux entrepreneurs, la bourgeoisie ou les membres de la Diaspora de payer plus de surcharges ou d’impôts à un gouvernement dont l’appétit pour les dépenses est gargantuesque ? Il semble qu’aucune augmentation de recettes ne sera suffisante à satisfaire la gourmandise de certains politiciens.

La proposition de la formation d’une commission composée des différents membres de la société est à soumettre. Cette commission sera constituée d’individus de divers secteurs de la population tels que le patronat, les syndicats, les paysans, les organisations féminines, les organisations religieuses et bien entendu la Diaspora. Ses membres seront des technocrates et non des politiciens. Son objectif sera de recommander une liste de mesures à prendre pour contrôler les dépenses et en même temps augmenter les recettes.  Le parlement sera l’autorité qui approuvera ces mesures.

La liste qui suit propose les mesures de contrôle des dépenses :

  • Réduction d’au moins cinquante pourcent (50%) des salaires des parlementaires et élimination de tous les frais. Il est à noter que la pour Croatie qui jouera la finale de la coupe du monde de Football le dimanche 15 juillet 2018 et qui a une économie six fois supérieure à la nôtre, la rémunération mensuelle du chef l’Etat ne dépasse pas $5,500. Nos sénateurs reçoivent un salaire mensuel de plus de $10,000, ce qui signifie qu’ils sont deux fois mieux rémunérés que le président d’une nation plus riche que nous.
  • Réduction importante des voyages non essentiels à l’extérieur (probablement 90% des voyages).
  • Réduction de l’effectif des fonctionnaires et des consultants de l’Etat. Il est un secret de polichinelle que les agences gouvernementales sont l’antre du népotisme et du copinage qui les engorgent d’employés fantômes d’amis, de parents, d’enfants et de concubines.
  • Toute nouvelle initiative (dépense) doit avoir zéro effet sur le déficit. Cela signifie qu’avant d’autoriser une nouvelle dépense, il faudra terminer un programme ayant un budget deux fois supérieur ou trouver une source de revenu pour subventionner le nouveau programme.

Pour ce qui est des recettes :

Il n’est pas nécessaire d’augmenter les impôts. Il vaut mieux mettre l’emphase sur leur collection. Pour cela, la recommandation de la nomination d’une compétence qui se penchera à fond sur la récupération de ce qui revient à l’État, qu’il s’agisse des frais de douane, des impôts ou d’autres obligations fiscales. L’une des difficultés à laquelle l’État est confronté est de s’assurer que les fonds collectés aboutissent dans ses caisses. Il faut dire aussi qu’il y a des impôts dont l’augmentation n’a aucun risque d’émeutes. Par exemple, même si on doublait le frais du visa d’entrée en le faisant passer à $20 U.S. la probabilité de perdre un seul touriste est presque nulle. On pourrait aussi exiger un frais de départ à tous les voyageurs, nationaux ou étrangers.

Il faut réitérer, pour finir, le fait que la violence n’est pas une solution aux problèmes. Il faut aussi dénoncer la démagogie irresponsable de ces soi-disant leaders qui incitent le peuple à la violence. Ils ne cherchent qu’à profiter de sa misère. Incendier un bâtiment public, semer la panique au sein de la population sont des actes criminels. Mais le peuple Haïtien est très pacifique. Ce peuple a été abusé, giflé, bafoué, maltraité et trahi par l’élite économique et politique pendant trop longtemps. En fait, vu la condition d’abjecte pauvreté de quatre-vingt pourcent (80%) de la population, on devrait s’attendre à des revendications violentes encore plus souvent. Ceci n’est pas un appel à la violence ni la préconisation des revendications avec des dommages physiques mais une simple observation des faits.  Nous ne pouvons pas tous prétendre comprendre ce que le peuple appelle mizè klowòks, certains ne l’ayant pas vécu. Il est difficile pour certains d’entre nous d’appréhender les affres du désespoir dans lequel se trouvent des parents qui n’ont rien donné à manger à leurs enfants pendant deux jours et qui ne savent pas si demain sera meilleur.  Ce serait une faute terrible, une méprise catastrophique que de penser que parce que nous avons des hôtels de luxe du type des Marriott, Best Western, El Rancho, Oasis ou des supermarchés modernes, la misère du peuple a diminué. En fait, la situation s’est empirée, car au cours de ces dernières années où l’on a assisté à la dévalorisation du la Gourde, le pouvoir d’achat du petit peuple en fit les frais et a considérablement baissé.

Une fois que la gourde continue dans un dévalement encore plus accéléré, la situation sociale sera explosive. Les évènements du week-end dernier sont comme la pluie qui précède un cyclone de la catégorie la plus élevée. L’urgence est donc d’exhorter tous les leaders des organisations sociales à assumer leurs responsabilités. Ce serait irréfléchi et inconscient de la part d’un leader de rester passif face à une situation aussi dangereuse.

Aux membres du patronat, vous avez été utilisé comme bouc émissaire, prétexte facile par certains politiciens opportunistes et de mauvaise foi pour soulever contre vous le peuple au lieu d’être félicités pour le courage d’avoir investi en Haïti (où l’incertain règne) plutôt qu’ailleurs où votre investissement serait plus en sécurité. Tenez bon ! Ce n’est pas le moment d’abandonner le navire. Vous devez faire partie de la solution.

July 12, 2018 at 8:49 pm Leave a comment

The Land Where Unicorns Roam

Two majestic unicorns in an enchanted forest

In a dream, I traveled 20 years into the future and I landed in a piece of the earth where unicorns roam. No, I am not talking about some fairy tale type of land where strange horse-looking animals fly. I am talking about an awe-inspiring place for an entrepreneur where the unicorns are billion dollar companies with innovative technologies that are changing the world.

As the legend goes, it started with one company that was acquired for more than $1 B by a US Fortune 500 company. Everyone thought that it was a fluke. And then there were more (2 to 4 companies having a valuation exceeding $1 B in any given year). When people realized that amongst these unicorns, there were several smaller innovative companies they started to call this land ‘The Silicon Valley of the Caribbean” and some dubbed it “Silicon-H”.

Yes, the place where unicorns roam is none other than Haiti. It’s true none of these unicorns have yet to appear. More than a belief, I know they will come into existence 20 years or less from now. I’ve seen these unicorns in the determination, creativity, persistence and the hunger for success from our millennials. When I look at these young entrepreneurs, I see the founders, CEOS, and CXOs of these future companies.

The question is why would anyone be surprised that Haiti would be a country where unicorns roam. After all, we are a country of entrepreneurs. This is a country where people have to create their own employment by necessity because there is a lack of good paying jobs. My inspiration as an entrepreneur was my mother who told me that she would whip water to turn it into butter to feed me if she had to. Truth be told, while even as a young child I knew there are many times that the poor woman had no clue where our next meal would come from, she always came through. In a flat world, we should encourage and expect that Haitian entrepreneurs would develop goods and services that they will sell to the larger market that is the entire world!

To create the environment for these unicorns to birth, policymakers and other actors must embrace the dream. It is true that we have a high illiteracy rate in Haiti. What’s also true is that we have a high percentage of college educated members of our population for which we need to create good paying jobs or give them the tools to create such jobs. We can have policies and programs in infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture to create jobs for those with less skills AND at the same time have policies and programs that leverage the part of our workforce that is well educated, smart and innovative. The two are not exclusive.

I am encouraged by President Jovenel Moise’s goal to create an incubator center in Haiti. This is a good step. I hope this will not be an isolated policy initiative and instead will be part of a coordinated policy program to seed a tech culture in Haiti.

A key aspect of the approach is to encourage Haitian entrepreneurs to produce for the broader world market. Haitians are also 100% world citizens and can develop solutions to address the needs of their brethren who are outside of Haiti. While we have about 11 million people in Haiti, there are more than 7 billion people elsewhere in the world.

I ask all my fellow entrepreneurs both in Haiti and the Diaspora, policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists to be a cause in the matter: Let the unicorns that are roaming the country materialize sooner rather than later.

June 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm 1 comment

Invest in Job Creators Instead of Projects

HaitianEntrepreneurs

In countries like Haiti, there are two extremes: those who are poor and those who are not. There is hardly anyone in the middle class. The approach taken by the international community has been to focus on helping those who are poorest. After decades of following this approach, we see the results. The needle has barely budged. In the last 20 years according to most data, per capita GDP in Haiti has been less than $800 US (in comparison, across the border in the Dominican Republic per capita GDP is close to $7,000 US). It is time to change the approach and focus instead on those who can create economic activity through job creation that is (entrepreneurs and existing business owners who are proven job creators).

We are where we are in Haiti because we have not taken the necessary actions to increase economic activity. Giving food, clothing or medical assistance to the poor have proven to be more than just ineffective; they are in fact a barrier to increased economic activity. Because, there is a supply of donors in developed countries, there are enough social entrepreneurs to satisfy the “demands” from these donors with the creation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Creating an NGO is a way to improve their financial conditions for many “social entrepreneurs.”  The problem is that the economic activity from the aid given by these NGOs, the cars they rent, the hotel rooms they purchase, the maids, security personnel or drivers is not enough. On the other hand, the activities of many of these NGOs take away resources that could be used for producing services and goods for profitable ventures.

That said, the donors to aid organizations, the volunteers who travel thousands of miles to come to help have the right intentions. It is only natural to want to help the stunted child due to malnutrition, the pregnant women who don’t have access to healthcare or to feel sorry for the kids who are unable to get the basic education that every child deserves. Like most people, my heart aches when I see the images of these helpless children on TVs and even more when I see them face to face in Haiti. We need to admit that sometimes good intentions don’t translate to the desired outcome. If someone is sick on the side of the road and people stop to give whatever they have (shoe, blanket, clothing, or food) how is that going to help?

So, what is the approach?

First, I believe that thriving enterprises that create goods and services for which there is a demand should be the focus. Show me a country, a state, a community or any geographical areas where you have thriving businesses, and I’ll show you a place where people have jobs to provide for their families or at least satisfy their basic needs.

Hence, the singular focus for helping Haiti or any other developing countries should be on developing business activities. Some NGOs seem to have embraced that idea and have begun to engage in for-profit activities. While this is better than giving aid, this is not optimum. Building enterprises, start with entrepreneurs. It’s the who and not the what. My message to these NGOs and their donors is to invest in entrepreneurs and proven job creators (people who are already running successful businesses) instead of the projects. Let the entrepreneurs and existing business leaders who are on the ground come up with solutions that address needs and demands from both internal and external markets.

First and foremost, what these entrepreneurs need is financing to get their ventures off the ground or grow what they’ve already started. According to the United Nations, between 2010 and 2012 Haiti received $6.43 B in foreign aid. Imagine if 80% of these funds were invested to provide seed or growth capital for enterprises that don’t have access to adequate capital. The beneficiaries would include small, medium and large enterprises across the spectrum. It would be foolish to limit investments in only small, and medium enterprises (SMEs). In Haiti, several well-established large businesses with access to growth capital at a lower interest rate would be able to grow faster and hence create more jobs.

Besides financing, there are other barriers to entrepreneurship such as business regulations or lack of infrastructure. Certainly, it would be useful to have the infrastructure and to remove bureaucratic barriers. Outside of investing in entrepreneurs, perhaps the second-best area to invest foreign aid would be in infrastructure. That said, I would point out to the fact that entrepreneurs have in their DNAs to solve problems and to remove roadblocks.  Betting on the entrepreneurs to solve these problems should be where to start while in parallel creating a more favorable environment (better infrastructure or policy).

Specifically, I ask international aid agencies, foreign governments to provide capital that go directly to both established businesses (existing job creators) and entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur born in Haiti but who has spent most of his life outside of the country, I can attest to the fact that entrepreneurs in Haiti as in other countries are made up of the same materials. They are visionary, disciplined, determined, perseverant and tenacious. With those aid budgets instead of giving handouts, create funds that provide loans at a reasonable rate or a combination of equity and senior debt (mezzanine). In Haiti, it is almost impossible for an entrepreneur with a good idea to get a loan to start a business. Even for businesses, getting a business loan can mean paying exorbitant double-digit rates exceeding 15%.

For my friends, who are business executives one of the ways that you can help is by mentoring Haitian entrepreneurs or established business owners and if you can, invest in their business.  This is the best way to use your talent to help fish as opposed to giving the proverbial fish. Don’t let the language barrier be an excuse. There are enough entrepreneurs and business owners in Haiti who speak English that you can help.

June 30, 2018 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Success is Now!

successisnow  I write this blog entry for my friends and families whom I’ve seen struggle as they chase something thinner than thin air called success.

The idea for most people is that success lives in the future. It is what you will gain – the big house, nice car; position – the big promotion, being in the C suite, and fame or network – the friends and connections you will have in influential positions. I want to emphasize that for most people, all these ‘things’ are in the future, that is, these are what you will have or will be in the future.

Here is an idea that may seem radical: That success is not in the future, but rather lives here, in present tense. You can be successful right now. You don’t have to postpone anything. The decision to succeed now can lead to you having or be all that you want to be.

One of the ways that success can be defined is as follows:

A successful person is someone who has made the commitment NOT to give up on goals. No matter what the obstacles, that person will push through. If this person falls 777 times, the natural reaction is to just get back up. That is a successful person.

I have yet to see anyone with this kind of attitude fail

Being successful involves adopting the attitudes, belief systems, and values of successful people. The person who does this is bound to achieve desired life goals.

Note that the definition above says nothing about what you have or where you are in life. I know of friends and family members in their 40s and 50s who are nostalgic about their 20s and what they could have accomplished. They see themselves as failures because they are not where they want to be. Consider this idea: That in the next 5 years, some people in their 20s will accomplish goals that people in their 40’s previously gave up on. So what’s the difference between people in their 40s and 50s who have given up on their dreams, and those 20 somethings who will attain those levels of achievement? Those in their 40s and 50s likely have more experience, more education, and larger networks.

Some achieve their goals with their efforts fueled by fear of failure. The fear to fail can be a powerful catalyst, pushing you to work so hard to avoid it. However, based on my experience this type of success could come at a high cost to personal relationships and health. There are no guarantees that the failure a person tries to avoid will lead to reaching the goal. However, there is no doubt in my mind that fear has a negative effect on the fearful and those around him. On the other hand, pursuing your goals from the position that you are already successful (because you have what it takes!) will serve as fuel and make the journey more enjoyable. Such an approach provides the confidence and the mental fortitude needed to overcome challenges that will come your way.

Success involves making a powerful choice in the present tense—now! That choice can propel you forward and sustain you for whatever goals that you have set out to accomplish. Wherever you are in your journey, take the challenge today– choose that from now you are successful!

November 1, 2016 at 8:19 pm 1 comment

Why Entrepreneurs Take Risks

Biggest risk Mark Zuckenberg quote

There is a high rate of failure for businesses. The statistics I have seen say as much as 90% of businesses fail in the first year (1). If this is so, then why would an entrepreneur believe it’s possible to be in the minority of enterprises that will succeed? Explanations that I have heard range from entrepreneurs must be delusional, to ‘they have the means’ to afford failure.

The rest of this blog will debunk the former (we all know that entrepreneurs are delusional). As for the latter, I won’t even spend much time addressing it, given that so many entrepreneurs have risked everything they own to start a business knowing there are no parents with deep pockets or trust funds to the rescue if they fail.

Of course, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, going into business is the very rational thing to do. Let me share with you some reasons that hard core entrepreneurs start businesses and what non-entrepreneurs can learn from it.

1)      The risks are not that bad

If you consider that entrepreneurship is a journey, the risks are not that bad. In fact, the probability of success for an entrepreneur who has committed to the journey is 100%. Let me explain.

Suppose, you were given a coin with the following attributes: a) the coin lands Heads (success) 10% the first time you flip it, and b) on subsequent flips you can learn from your mistakes and improve the probability of success considerably. It is unfair to compare entrepreneurship to the rolling of dice. Most entrepreneurs learn from their first mistakes and improve their success rates on the next go round.

Before, I quit my full-time job to engage heart and soul into running my own venture, one of the best ideas I was given was that “entrepreneurship is a journey” and I should engage in it with no thoughts of turning back.

Lesson for non-entrepreneurs: Overestimating risk and underestimating future gains

I believe that by nature, human beings tend to overestimate the risk of losing what they have, and at the same time, underestimate the potential for future gains. This is probably why many put their money in the bank instead of investing in the stock market where history would indicate they are likely to achieve higher returns. Some don’t even put money in a 401(k) when they could get a guaranteed 100% return with an employer match. One of the attributes of entrepreneurs is that they are able to assess risk better than the average person.

Question: Are you evaluating risk properly?

2)      Entrepreneurs are not afraid of losing immaterial assets

One of the reasons that people are afraid of going into business is the fear of what they might lose: Reputation – what would their friends think or say about them, or tangible assets such as money or the nice house in the suburbs. I call all of these immaterial assets. For entrepreneurs, their main asset is themselves and not the things they have.

So as long as there are humans and there are problems to be solved, an entrepreneur will create solutions for which people are willing to pay. Even if humans were able to solve all their problems, I am convinced that there will be entrepreneurs who would convince some to pay for problems that are inexistent but could materialize in the future.

Lesson for non-entrepreneurs: You are your greatest asset. Just like an entrepreneur, for all humans, their asset is not what they have; it is the person who created those assets in the first place. Are you spending time increasing the value of your assets through learning, meditating, going to retreats, keeping yourself in top condition both mentally and physically?

3)      Entrepreneurs live their lives

There is no job advertisement for entrepreneurs. By definition, entrepreneurs are passionate about their ventures. They believe they were created to be entrepreneurs. The fact that they take the paths less traveled doesn’t bother them. What other people think is not going to stop entrepreneurs for doing what they love to do. There is a reason why many entrepreneurs leave very good jobs even when a promotion is imminent.

Before I started SciMetrika, I had an older friend who had a great job at IBM. He had an MBA with a technical background which was rare in those days. He believed that he would rise up quickly to the top. Deep in his heart, he wanted to be an entrepreneur and start his own business. The nice house and good pay kept him from ever following his passion. I knew I did not want to end up that way which is why I started SciMetrika in my early 30s.

Entrepreneurs would rather risk failure, living the life that was meant for them, rather than being successful doing a 9-to-5 job. (Of course, the greatest failure is to lose your soul and not be who you are meant to be.)

Lesson for non-entrepreneurs: Live your life with no regret. Deep inside, you have a passion and calling. Follow your passion and don’t let excuses like people, money, age (too young or too old) or background (education/race) stand in your way.

(1) Neil Patel. 90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10%. Forbes Magazine; January 16, 2015. Accessed online on August 15, 2015 at http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/01/16/90-of-startups-will-fail-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-10/

April 3, 2016 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Who I Am

 

Who I am

 I know who I am not:
I am not the things I have

I am not the nice house in the suburbs

I am not my education

I am not my accomplishments

I am not the accolades or criticism

I am not my personal or professional network

I am not my friends

I am not even my wonderful family

 

So who am I?

 These may give a glimpse of who I am:

My commitments

My beliefs

My value systems

How I love

Who I love

How I treat other people

 

Nothing above is exactly who I am

 

This much I know

I am a part of every human

Every human is part of who I am

I am part of the Big I am

The Big I am is a part of me

i am

 

 

March 26, 2016 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Birdman Movie–What you are Not

birdman-click

The movie Birdman is my absolute favorite for Oscar wins. To me, this is what cinematographic art is about. In a way, it’s a trivial story. However, it’s masterfully put in a script, well directed with great acting to captivate the audience. I like this movie because it makes us think about a topic that is of great interest to me, that is who we really are.

No, the movie doesn’t tell us who we are. Rather it tells us who we are not as in this clip:

Here is what we are not:
• We are not our career
• We are not the businesses we create
• We are not past failures
• We are not past successes
• We are not what we think of ourselves (what we think of ourselves can be affected by ego, what others think of ourselves, past failures or past success)
• We are not what others think of ourselves (Another memorable quote from the movie: “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing”.)
• We are not our demons (Clearly, the protagonist was a schizophrenic. That doesn’t define him either)

So, who are we?

I believe we are or can be:
• Who we decide to create, free from the burden of the past, our current circumstances, the judgment of others, our disappointments, fears or failure of being inadequate. We can create something on a blank new canvas that we are strongly passionate about. I think human beings are defined by how they live their beliefs, values and attitudes. What are your beliefs, values and attitudes?
• Imagine that you are an instrument part of a huge orchestra called the human race. The instrument maker created you to play a specific role. The music that you play cannot be reproduced by anyone else. Are you playing your role in that cycle of life? In other words, we each have an optimum representing who we are at our best. We should strive to be that.

February 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

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