Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meet Glaudine, Junior and Winchelot, Sustain Haiti's 2011 Business Plan Competition winners!

The money that I raise through "1,000 Miles for Haiti" will go toward the winners of Sustain Haiti's 2012 Business Plan Competition. To give illustrate just how awesome these entrepreneurs and their ideas are, and how much of an impact your donation can make, allow me to introduce the Top 3 winners of this year's BPC: Glaudine, Junior and Winchelot. Out of nearly 200 entrants, 10 finalists were selected to present their plans to our judges, an independent panel of successful Haitian businessmen, in front of a live audience. These were the entrepreneurs the judges felt showed the most drive and ambition, attention to detail and financial viability. 

First prize ($1000 USD): Glaudine Auguste 

Me, Glaudine and Junior, our 1st- and 2nd-place winners.
Glaudine lives in a rural mountain community called Diplesis and has plans to launch a goat-raising business. She has some experience raising goats already and will be able to have a large operation thanks to Sustain Haiti's prize money. Goats are very popular in Haiti and the demand for goat meat is very strong. When our panel of judges asked her why people would want to pay for her goats instead of buying cheaper salami or spam, she turned to the audience and asked, "Do you think the next time you need to have a big celebration that you will simply open a can of meat? No, you want something better. You will want my goats." Her answer was met with enthusiastic applause among the audience observing the final round of the business plan competition.  Diplesis is a good area for raising goats because it is rural enough to be able to have a large herd of goats but it is close enough to markets that can supply goats to the larger Leogane area. Glaudine also explained specific plans she had in place to prevent theft of her goats and to ensure that they remain in good health. While Glaudine is relatively young, she clearly has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the common sense that should bring her business success.

Second prize ($600): Junior Senecharles

An avid gardener, Junior capitalized on his talents to put together an outstanding plan for growing and distributing fresh vegetables to Leogane food merchants. Local markets carry vegetables that are typically shipped from the Dominican Republic or further, and many varieties are not widely available. Junior’s friends with restaurant and grocery operations expressed interest in better-quality, locally-grown produce, and Junior designed an enterprise to meet those needs. He plans to use the prize money to purchase the seeds, agricultural inputs, and transportation he will need to grow and distribute the food around Leogane. A well-liked community member, he plans to use his many local contacts to initially market and expand his business. Though initial inputs will be expensive, Junior has drawn up a proposition that promises considerable long-term profitability.

According to the judges, a panel of accomplished Haitian businessmen, Junior’s venture rose above the pack because of its innovation, attention to local needs, and potential for profitable success. They felt that this young father of three also has the attitude, drive, and people skills necessary to become an impactful business leader in Leogane. 
Third prize ($400): Winchelot Morisset 

The audience reacts to a comment during the live panel.
In addition to participating in Sustain Haiti's business classes, Winchelot also participated in our English classes every morning at 5:30 AM. Furthermore, he's still in high school. His business plan was to sell cell phone minutes and to recharge batteries. In the local market that is big business. Everyone pays cell phone by the minute by buying minutes from local vendors. Furthermore, Leogane does not have much reliable power, so most people seek out battery recharge stations like the one Winchelot will be setting up. Cell phones are everywhere in Haiti, so there is a very strong and growing demand for the kinds of services that Winchelot will be offering.
What made Winchelot stand out among well over 100 other business plans? The panel who selected him did not know him, so it wasn't his diligent English studies that gave him the prize. Winchelot's plan was clear and carefully thought out. His passion and drive to make his business succeed was clear in his plan. Such vision is extremely rare among the broader population but is especially rare in a teenager still in high school. We look forward to seeing what places his entrepreneurial spirit will take him in the future. 

(Thanks to Dustin Homer, Zach Christensen and Melissa Arenas for their contributions to this post.)

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