“Empower Haitian Women,” the first-ever Haitian project winner of the Alumni Engagement and Innovation Fund, concluded this week. A project created by Partners of the Americas Legislative Professional Fellows alumnus Doudly Elius, the project delivered business skills and entrepreneurship training to 40 women living with disabilities in Port-au-Prince.
Empower Haitian Women
Empower Haitian Women organization aims to help women and girls living with disabilities to overcome their financial barriers, to be professionally fit for the job market and to become independent financially. The goal is not only to develop business skills of Haitian women and girls with disabilities, but also to provide them opportunities as individuals and as a group to form a support network and collaborate on business ideas.
A project team staffed with an international U.S. State Department of State program alumni in addition to local trainers and volunteers, the Empower Haitian Women team created and administered a training program that took place over two weeks at the offices of Haiti’s Bureau of Integration of the Disabled (BSEIPH).
The training on business management and business planning resulted in participants creating business plans that will contribute to the development of small businesses—ultimately increasing autonomy, financial security, and independence. Participants completed the training and business plan development with the support of newly formed peer networks, the guidance of the trainer/volunteer team of fifteen, and with assistance from partner organizations FormatAide, Femmes Autonomes, Office of Integration of the Disabled, and Sant Kore Lavi.
Throughout the training, the participants had the opportunity to meet special guests and speakers, including Gerald Oriol, Jr., Haiti’s Secretary of State for the Integration of the Disabled; Mrs. Jennifer Noisette, U.S. Embassy Haiti’s Cultural Affairs Officer; Gaelle Pierre, CEO of Femmes Autonomes, Sephora Pierre Louis, CEO of FormatAide and Empower Haitian Women Leadership and Communication trainer, and Thermicile Etienne Derilus, President of Sant Kore Lavi.
The participants and the Empower Haitian Women team were thrilled to accept a generous donation of five manual sewing machines from Klaus Langauer. He has a longstanding humanitarian connection to Haiti and donated the sewing machines with the intention that they will give the project’s participants a head start in building their businesses. In addition to his donation, he is trying to look for English scholarships to the benefit of 4 women.
A program completion ceremony was held on Sunday, September 21st, 2015 to acknowledge the accomplishments of the Empower Haitian Women project participants. The training delivered will help these women as they start or progress in their entrepreneurial journeys. Through continued mentoring and connections made through the peer network of women living with disabilities, the EHW team has full confidence these women will continue to grow as empowered business people.