I’m the co-founder of asocial enterprise called COCREAD, which stands for Co-creating Development. It’s mission is to boost community entrepreneurship through innovation, art and resilience in Haiti.
I can say I’m one of the lucky 1% that made it to university and one of the few who have actually found a job in my area. I majored in agriculture and economics; I studied in Haiti, in the US and in France.
I’m sure all of you remember the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed over 300,000 people and destroyed schools, homes and companies. Everyone lost friends or family members in that tragedy. I still have vivid memories of my dear classmates, Darline and Sarah, who weren’t so lucky and got trapped in the university building. A lot of aid, humanitarian efforts and development support has been provided to Haiti, but no effective results are visible; still today, we are rebuilding the country and trying to get back on our feet.
One of the main concerns is the ‘brain drain’ in our country. Out of every 100 graduates 84 leave the country. To make it worse for Haiti, students are trapped in a school system that kills creativity. I still remember the words of many teachers and professors, who stated over and over: “Daphnee you are a very smart girl, you’ll make it far. Stay focused, finish your studies and you’ll find a good job in a company”. I’ve seen high school and college graduates, and even students with a master degree waiting for a dream job that never comes.
I’ve always looked up to my mom and in her see a true entrepreneur. A woman that can barely write and read, but who raised five kids to university level by selling codfish, hareng and spices in a public street market. This leads me to strongly believe, that promoting and encouraging entrepreneurship, from the bottom up, is the strongest and the most sustainable option to tackle severe poverty in Haiti.
I would like to put a solution on the table that every single person can be part of. I want all youngsters in Haiti to realize that they don’t have to wait for a job but they can create their own. I have a creative team that’s collaborating with me right now in Villa Rosa, a community in the centre of Port au Prince.These youngsters search for innovation, they make, create and to sell things locally and through the internet. The plan is to use part of the money we make to improve living conditions in Villa Rosa.
I’m searching for people with design ideas, web shops builders, developers, entrepreneurship trainers, and marketing strategists. They can also be people in your network.
As a proud nation, we no longer want to hold our hands out wiating for charity. Instead we welcome you to be part of our solidarity movement and boost the Villa Rosa team to become entrepreneurs and sell “Made in Haiti” products.
Daphnee Charles, 1986