Posts filed under ‘Haiti’

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

The Perseverance of Pierre Garcon

I have always been fascinated by the fact that players from other that the big college powerhouses are able to make it to the NFL. What’s more inspiring is when a player from a Division III (this would mean 0 appearance on national TV) makes it to the greatest sport league in the US.

Here is a blog entry by Georganne Hassell on a fellow Haitian-American Pierre-Garcon, the wide-receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.

January of 2010 was a momentous month in the world of football. A young Haitian-American set a new record in the AFC Championship game of catching 11 passes, boosting his team to victory. Pierre Garcon of the Indianapolis Colts did something else unexpected that day. He took his family’s native colors and paired them with the AFC Championship trophy to show his support for Haiti. Barely two weeks earlier Pierre, along with thousands of other Haitian-Americans was searching for family after a devastating earthquake hit the island. In the midst of the chaos Pierre kept strong and persevered–something he’s had to do his entire life.

The earthquake in Haiti wasn’t the only event to rock Pierre’s life out of balance. His father, Jules, died when he was only six years old, leaving his mother Marie to care for the family. Pierre says his intense work ethic is inspired by his mother who worked harvesting the fields by day and a shift in the postal service at night. As a college football player, Pierre had his own work cut out for him. He always had the dream of playing in the Superbowl, but rarely shared it at his Division III school of Mount Union. Despite the obstacles Pierre took whatever opportunity open to him to pursue his goal of being in the NFL. In 2008 he accomplished his goal when he was picked in the 6th round draft to play for the Colts. He spent his rookie NFL years learning from his teammates, and especially credits Peyton Manning for helping perfect his game. “I feel like he got better in his rookie year even though he wasn’t playing a lot,” said Manning. “He didn’t waste a year. When he was called upon in certain situations, he knew what to do.”

The same held true after the earthquake, when Pierre stepped right up to show his pride for Haiti and inspire others to help his parents’ homeland. Pierre said realizing his goals, whether its fundraising for Haiti or going to the Superbowl, were key to achieving success. “You don’t have to be from the biggest country,” he said. “You don’t have to be from the best place. You just have to work towards your goals and stay focused. Perseverance takes you a long way.”


January 24, 2012 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

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