EGI takes ideas & informal businesses and turns them into formal operations that can receive investment
We find the most promising Haitian entrepreneurs, train them and connect them to top investors and businesspeople who serve as mentors. Together with the entrepreneurs and mentors we create formal small businesses and find 1st level funding.
We were founded in 2005 in the aftermath of the 2004 crisis and work with entrepreneurs in the greater Port-au-Prince area.
I think that if more people had the opportunity to participate in something like this it would make a difference in Haiti James St Fort, EGI class 2011
Sandal manufacturing enterprise.
Offers OpenSource software solutions for small and medium enterprises
Expanding current internet cafe to teach computer skills to high school students
Expansion of existing chicken production enterprise to include egg and feed production. This enterprise is a formal partnership between an EGI entrepreneur and one of the most prominent members of the Haitian private sector.
We’re setting up an investment fund to provide seed financing for selected businesses. Invest in this fund and help our entrepreneurs to create sustainable growth in Haiti.
Interested in sharing your time and skills with Haitian entrepreneurs? Reach out to us about mentoring a business or teaching a work shop.
By: Cory Albertson, Notre Dame MBA, EGI 2014 Intern
For a period of eight weeks in the summer of 2014, as a rising second-year MBA at the University of Notre Dame, I had an opportunity to work in Haiti in partnership with the Economic Development Initiative for Haiti (EGI-Haiti), an NGO founded by a Notre Dame alum in 2006. In the capacity of Economic Growth Consultant, I was witness to the impressive growth in entrepreneurial spirit taking place in Haiti as a result of EGI-Haiti’s activities.
Arriving in Port Au Prince, I knew my tasks would be challenging: conduct evening business workshops for a group of as many as two-dozen Haitian entrepreneurs, during the daytime hours consult with existing small- to medium-sized businesses, and conduct market research on microfinance and other fund-raising opportunities available to Haiti’s entrepreneurs.
With the tremendous support and resources provided by EGI-Haiti’s in-country executive director, Isabelle Clerie, myself and MBA colleague Kushal Toshniwal got to work. Our primary focus initially, in conjunction with our visits to various microfinance entities, was to adapt a curriculum for the evening business bootcamp sessions. Based on insight provided to us during our microfinance meetings and by EGI-Haiti board member Patrick Brun, we identified that training the entrepreneurs how to construct basic financial statements was a crucial part to success. Entrepreneurs typically require outside investors to scale a business. Both the cost and availability of money to the entrepreneurs in Haiti is predicated on their ability to present financial data on their operations. Microfinance entities have mastered the art of triangulating this data in cases where there are no readily available financial documents. However, these loan rates often border on predatory and can be counterproductive towards helping an entrepreneur scale their business.
Though it’s careful and oftentimes scrutinous selection process, EGI-Haiti has created a culture of high expectations among its entrepreneurs. Holding to this standard, Kushal and I imparted the basics of financial accounting to the entrepreneurs provided them with tools needed for continued success while managing to have plenty of fun as a group along the way.
Our second pillar of business training we provided to EGI-Haiti’s entrepreneurs was an adaptation of the Business Problem Solving course taught at Notre Dame by Professor Viva Bartkus. These lessons focused on how to think through business problems critically by understanding the important questions to ask of business challenges and how to ask them. Along the way, as our understanding of certain aspects of Haitian culture began to develop, we created real-world business cases for the entrepreneurs to apply their training to and gain practice in giving presentations. Watching their growth and development throughout the course was the most rewarding aspect to the internship in Haiti.
Today, momentum continues in the Notre Dame and EGI-Haiti partnership. EGI-Haiti as an organization is being driven and fueled by the Notre Dame DNA. Since its inception nearly ten years ago, the organization has blossomed to become a beacon of hope to Haitians aspiring for a life of dignity and impact. As plans emerge to construct a $650,000 Centre for Entrepreneurship, a micro-investment fund is also creating a pathway for EGI-Haiti to invest directly in its entrepreneurs and their plans. In conjunction with these activities, new programming at Notre Dame will be sending a group of MBA students to Haiti for a two week consulting engagement with Haitian entrepreneurs as a prelude to coursework in South Bend which will lead to awarding $5,000 in prize money through an annual business plan competition.
The energy and momentum building around EGI-Haiti through the Notre Dame partnership is electric. One need not look hard in the halls of the Mendoza College of Business for evidence of this relationship today. At the most recent Irish Impact Conference, EGI-Haiti supported entrepreneur Felder Jean Paul was unable to hold back his emotions presenting on his path from an aspiring entrepreneur with $10 in his pocket to running an expansive sandal-manufacturing facility, which offers employment to dozens of Haitians and is currently exploring ways to export into the global market. Incidentally, no one in that room was able to hold back their emotions either.
Taking part in the transformation occurring in Haiti has been a deeply enriching aspect to my time at Notre Dame. I look forward to remaining engaged with EGI-Haiti as I develop through my career and am hopeful that future members of the MBA program will be able to take advantage of the amazing opportunity that exists in Haiti.