Imagine starting business and, after payroll, you discover a problem. The majority of your employees don?t have bank accounts. They can?t open them. Why? They never learned to read. This means, of course, none have experience doing any kind of financial planning. For a small business that needs its employees to wear many hats, this situation is a serious problem.
While we hold up the spirit of Silicon Valley as the model of entrepreneurial success, the reality is that entrepreneurs exist everywhere — even in developing countries. Surviving on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti is a daily exercise in the entrepreneurial spirit ? one that requires initiative, verve and resourcefulness. Most entrepreneurs, however, need more than conviction to rise; they need support, investment and community. In developing countries, even the smallest level of such ?investment? can be enough to unblock a business, freeing it to rise to the next level.
The payroll story above comes from a real Haitian social enterprise, Caribbean Craft, a certified Fair Trade maker of beautiful papier-m?ch? products derived from recycled materials. Caribbean Craft?s founder, Magalie Dresse, realized that to truly grow her business, she needed to invest in her staffs? skills. Magalie reached out to Provdev, a Haitian nonprofit with an educational mission. Working together, they developed a training program for Caribbean Craft employees. With support from a buyer, West Elm, and the Clinton Foundation, the program launched to remarkable success. Now the employees work as they learn, empowering themselves, their families and communities in ways that go far beyond a paycheck. Caribbean Craft has also benefited from the increase in capacity and efficiency. Newly trained artisans working for the social enterprise can now read work orders without assistance and manage materials budgets for the first time. The product quality improves. In short, this collaboration benefitted everyone.
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