MicroMentor launches in Haiti, rebuilding local economy one small business at a time

Haiti, July 20, 2011

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Online networking platform will help Haiti’s small businesses grow faster, generate more revenue and employ more people by matching entrepreneurs with experienced mentors

Port au Prince, Haiti – As part of its commitment to economic recovery in Haiti and through funding by the Western Union Foundation, Mercy Corps has launched its proprietary online mentoring platform, MicroMentor.org/Haiti. The web based platform matches Haitian entrepreneurs with skilled business volunteers both locally and from around the globe, facilitating access to the support and knowledge they need to successfully grow their businesses.

“After the devastating earthquake last year, we are proud to be able to extend the MicroMentor platform in Haiti to help spur economic recovery,” said Jeff Jones, program director for MicroMentor. “We believe it will provide emerging Haitian entrepreneurs with the tools they need to navigate their journey toward success and create positive, lasting change.”

Growing a business is never easy, but an environment like Haiti poses particular challenges. The January 12, 2010, earthquake decimated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, killing more than 230,000 people and destroying the livelihoods of most of those who survived. Helping pick up the pieces, MicroMentor empowers members of the local community to thrive as entrepreneurs, rebuilding the economy one small business at a time. Mentors draw on their own experience and unique skills to equip mentees with the tools they need to overcome the myriad challenges new business owners face. Ultimately, this entrepreneur-centered approach should help create more sustainable jobs for the Haitian economy.

MicroMentor's innovative technology and program model has already proven successful in the United States. As of 2011, the service has created 3,000 mentoring relationships, with participating entrepreneurs reporting a 75 percent increase in annual business revenues. Not only that, but participating entrepreneurs have increased their employment figures by 68 percent. Building off of the same scalable model, the potential for job creation and economic growth in Haiti is vast.

“A program like this would make a world of difference,” said Phelicia Dell, a Haitian business owner who recently signed up to be a mentor. “I was fortunate enough to have the support of a business mentor early on. I know how crucial it is to shadow through learned experiences what steps to take to achieve success and avoid the failures many new businesses encounter as they struggle to get off the ground.”

Today Phelicia designs and creates coveted handbags and cocktail dresses with her line, Vévé Collection, and she was the recipient of an award from fashion mogul Diane Von Furstenburg. Skilled business owners like Phelicia are the future of development in Haiti, providing not only employment and training, but hope and dignity to their communities.

To participate in MicroMentor, mentees must be actively starting or growing a small business, and mentors must have qualified business experience (usually five or more years of management). For more information about the program, or to become a business mentor or mentee, please visit www.micromentor.org/haiti.