In the last blog, I talked about why I believe job creation is the biggest physical need in Gressier, Haiti. In this blog I want to tell you some of my initial thoughts on what I believe will help, what I believe will not help, and how I feel like All Things New can get involved in this area in the future.
If you are reading this and are a supporter of All Things New, you may be wondering why a ministry that takes care of children would seek to get involved in something as different as job creation. You may be thinking that this could take away our focus from the kids and you may be wondering why we are thinking through this topic rather than figuring out how to more efficiently run our orphanage. The truth is, we are beginning to seriously think about job creation, at least in part, in a selfish way…for our children. If we want to see the landscape of our area of Haiti change, this has to be first. Like I mentioned before, our kids will not have a job market to enter when they turn 18 if something drastic does not change in our community. On top of that, if we were to focus on only finding jobs for our kids, we would be providing little more than a short-term fix. If we can find them jobs with other missions organizations, what happens when those organizations move on? We cannot employ them all, they cannot have sponsors for the rest of their lives, and many of our older children do not have the educational background to compete for jobs in Port or in other areas of the country. We could send them to vocational school but there are already plenty of mechanics, plumbers, electricians, and chefs in our area all with more experience and all without jobs! We have to do something different. We have to be creative and start figuring out what people think they need and what people know they want. Here are some steps we hope to take in the near future to start figuring out how to help with this aspect of life:
- Keep Our Current Employees. The first step we need to take as an organization is to keep the employees we have while still raising enough money to take care of our children. We want to keep all of our current employees for these 3 reasons:
- They are good at their jobs. They do a wonderful job of caring for our children. Could we do it with less employees? Yes. Would our children get the same level of care? No.
- They have families. Each of our employees have families that rely on their income. We did not hire based on need, we hired people we felt would do a good job based on references from our trusted Haitian friends. However, now that they are with us we know that this income is vital for their families.
- This is one way we can begin changing the landscape of our community. Each of our employees makes a “livable wage” that creates a class of people with income they did not have prior to working with us. This newfound income presumably brings new perceived needs and wants that need to be filled by someone who figures out what they are.
- Figure Out the Needs and Wants of People in Our Community. For this, we need people (Haitians and Americans) who can communicate with people in the area to find out what types of “Niche Markets” there may be that need to be filled by an entrepreneurial mind. In Gressier, I can name missions organizations both large and small including but not limited to HHM, Hope Rising, All Things New, REACH Global, Christianville, Respire, KORE, etc. all of which have employees that are paid on a consistent basis. With these organizations alone I believe there are at least 250 Haitians who are being paid a consistent and decent wage and another 40 Americans as well. With this type of foundation, there have to be felt needs not being met that people would pay for…if we could just figure out what they are!
- Find Creative, Entrepreneurial Type People to Help Create Jobs to Meet These Needs. Hopefully this is self explanatory, but creativity is key. We have to create jobs that make enough money for a person to live and maybe have a little disposable income of their own, jobs that are sustainable, and jobs that can succeed in a 3rd world environment. Jobs that are not just “mechanic” because there are already too many of those, but jobs that do not already exist even though the need for the job does!
I know this is simplistic and not realistic in its current form. These are just some initial thoughts that I know have to be changed, added to, etc. to even come close to a workable idea, but again I just wanted to get the ball rolling. I remember coming to Haiti for the first time in 2002 on a week long trip to help build a school in Cabaret, Haiti. I can tell you that after that trip, I did not come home and think, “do you know what Haiti really needs…They need 2 huge cell phone companies to come in and provide cellular service throughout the nation.” But do you what happened, in May 2006 Digicel expanded into Haiti (I’m not sure when Natcom did) and in 2012 they bought out another company to become Haiti’s largest cell phone service provider. In 2012 over 6 million people had mobile service (which is 102nd in the world and constitutes about 61% of the population). This was a hidden market that I would have never even thought about entering, but the success has been absolutely amazing! On a smaller scale, there have to be other industries and niche markets just waiting for someone to open up…Why could it not be us, and why could it not benefit our children and our community? Again, I know this is simplistic, but I also know that there are people out there who can help us. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please contact us and let’s see what we can do to really help our children and to really help Gressier!