Political instability, food shortages, unemployment, a lack of basic infrastructure, and disasters have kept most Haitians trapped in a cycle of poverty for generations. Ricardo Toussaint, 31, is a small-business owner in Simon Pele, Haiti. He lives with his wife and two children, Roodson (9yrs old) and Roodmia (5yrs old).
“When you’ve got a wife and kids, you’ve got to manage taking care of them. That’s how decided I wanted to create my first business. I opened up a mini-bar, to sell refreshments and snacks to the community,” explains Ricardo. But things didn’t quite work out with his first business.
As time went on, competition in the area rose and Ricardo soon found himself struggling to make any money. The business was only just surviving with very little income being made.
“The most frustrating part about the experience, was not being able to take care of my family, we got by, but I needed to find something else,” he shares.
Seeking to improve his business, Ricardo sought out training and found that Habitat for Humanity Haiti were offering residents of Simon Pele an opportunity. The ‘Investing in People and Business’ programme. He jumped at the chance to participate in the 5 day entrepreneurship training. During the training, Ricardo learned how to create and manage a budget, and the importance of doing a market study before opening a new business.
“Before taking this training, I just didn’t know how to run a business. Once I complete the training, I understood right away why my previous ventures weren’t holding their own. I wasn’t managing my business’ cash flow correctly and, had I done a market study, I would have quickly realized that in fact there were already too many mini-bars in the area,” Ricardo tells us.
In the months following this training, Ricardo started a brand new business. One that sold frozen ice lollies. Unlike his first business, this new venture did so well that Ricardo was able use his profits to start a second business whereby he refrigerated beverages and produced ice for his clients. But he didn’t stop there, after as his ventures continued to grow, Ricardo launched a 3rd activity, selling refrigeration equipment to individuals as well as other businesses.
Just three months after the training with Habitat for Humanity Haiti, Ricardo was able to purchase a used car to help transport his products and purchase any raw materials that he needs. Today, he is well on his way to financial stability and has plans to keep it that way. He is proud to be an active player in Simon Pele’s development as his ventures are helping him employ other members of the community. He hopes to take this even further by helping others create their own ventures.
“Since receiving this training, it’s just been one success after another for me. That just feels amazing. My business tripled within three months! I was able to buy a car, and today, not only can I take care of my family, I now have dreams of travelling and taking them on a wonderful vacation one day. But what makes me the proudest is the fact that I am contributing the development of this community. I can employ young people so that they can start learning to take care of themselves. All of this is thanks to this training. Thank you, Habitat, thank you to the Government of Canada and to all those who made this program possible.”—Ricardo Jean Toussaint
Habitat for Humanity Haiti are continuing to support people through through entrepreneurship activities. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. According to the World Bank, more than half of its population lives in poverty, and approximately 24% is in extreme poverty.
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