Monday 5 December 2016

Haitian women in business - a photo essay

Jennifer Barker

Published 15/08/2016 | 14:05

Ketlie Seide at her beauty salon in Port au Prince, Haiti. ‘Pedicures and manicures are very popular. Sometimes after the pedicure my customers will purchase sandals from me. Hair straightening used to be my most popular service, however unfortunately for my business the fashion has changed, now women like to leave their hair natural.’ Photo: Jennifer Barker
Ketlie Seide at her beauty salon in Port au Prince, Haiti. ‘Pedicures and manicures are very popular. Sometimes after the pedicure my customers will purchase sandals from me. Hair straightening used to be my most popular service, however unfortunately for my business the fashion has changed, now women like to leave their hair natural.’ Photo: Jennifer Barker
Ketlie Seide at her beauty salon in Port au Prince, Haiti. ‘Having the correct equipment has brought me many more customers. ‘Before I owned a fan I was loosing customers as it was far too hot and uncomfortable for people to sit in here. Also, before the basin I was using an old bucket to wash hair.’ Photo: Jennifer Barker
Ketlie Seide’s son James at the beauty salon. ‘When my husband died I knew I had to find a way to support myself and my son James. There have been a lot of obstacles along the way and at times I could not afford the tuition fees for my son. I am happy to have my own business now as I think in Haiti working for yourself is better and more secure than being employed’ Photo: Jennifer Barker

KETLIE Seide runs her beauty salon from a small, narrow concrete structure only a few me-tres in size. She provides very popular hair and beauty treatments to the Haitian women on the steep slopes of Turgeau in Port au Prince.

  • Go To

Ketlie always wanted to be a beautician and open her own business.  She had worked in-termittently as an employee, gaining experience and slowly purchasing small essentials that would allow her to work for herself.  Unfortunately all these were lost in the earthquake and Keltie was back to square one.  Finally in 2012, with help from her father and brother, she set up her business with very limited supplies and equipment.

Fleurant Annette at the market in Gonaives where she sells garments she has made or fixed. She is a mobile seller, strategically moving around making sales. Photo: Jennifer Barker
Fleurant Annette at the market in Gonaives where she sells garments she has made or fixed. She is a mobile seller, strategically moving around making sales. Photo: Jennifer Barker
Fleurant Annette at the market in Gonaives. ‘Working for myself is best as I am raising my children alone. I can work in the market when I need to and sew with the program in the morning when my girls are at school. I also sew in the evening at home, repairing old clothes and making school uniforms for local children.’ Photo: Jennifer Barker
Fleurant Annette’s daughter, Kemshine, models the wedding veil which her mother rents to local brides Photo: Jennifer Barker

With financial and business assistance from GOAL and PALMIS - (a micro credit institution established by Entrepreneurs du Monde) Ketlie purchased the necessary and vital equip-ment to run a competitive business. She received a $1000 credit to buy a fan, basin and hair dryer, as well as a generator - an essential as electricity is notoriously unreliable.  She also received valuable business skills which have been vital to the successful running of her salon.

Ketlie is a great example of the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of Haitian women who are proving powerful forces for positive change in Haiti.  Women from poor areas are en-gaging with livelihood and grassroots entrepreneurship programs, which empower them with the skills to take part in, and open their own businesses.  For many women this is the first time they have received training or financial assistance of any kind, and when pre-sented with these opportunities they are relentless in pursuing a better life. 

Pocius Menette and Fleurant Annette are two remarkable women who are taking full ad-vantage of the sewing programme run by Haven in Gonaives.  Coming from impoverished backgrounds they insisted that participating in the programme had dramatically changed their lives, enabling them to work and provide food and schooling for their children. 

Following completion of the sewing programme they helped set up a co-op called ‘Les Femmes D’espoir Des Gonaives’ (The Women of Hope of Gonaives) where they now work every morning.  They have partnered with ‘Entrepreneurial Women of Milot’, producing beautifully crafted goods such as aprons, pot holders, oven mitts and bags which are snapped up by the tourists. 

Pocius Menette at the sewing program. ‘Before the sewing program I struggled a lot to make money. Now I have skills to help me earn a living. I have also received training in business and how to better manage finances.’ Photo: Jennifer Barker
Pocius Menette at the sewing program. ‘Before the sewing program I struggled a lot to make money. Now I have skills to help me earn a living. I have also received training in business and how to better manage finances.’ Photo: Jennifer Barker
Pocius Menette at the sewing program. 'Every morning I sew at the centre where we produce aprons, pot holders, oven mitts and bags. It is a safe and secure place for us to work and also store our materials and finished goods' Photo: Jennifer Barker
Pocius Menette with Andianette, Ostin, Lucander, Fanise (4 of her 9 children) and her first grandchild Eclarichena outside their home in Gonaives. She is very proud that she can afford to send all of her children to school. Photo: Jennifer Barker

In true entrepreneurial spirt some of the money they make here is put to good business use, investing in other endeavours to further increase their income.  Menette buys and sells metal pots that are commonly used in Haiti for washing and Annette rents veils and gloves to local brides.

This photo essay looks at how livelihood programmes and entrepreneurial support initia-tives are promoting women’s economic empowerment in Haiti.

This photo essay was made possible through support from the Simon Cumbers Media Fund

Simon Cumbers Media Fund logo.
Simon Cumbers Media Fund logo.

Online Editors

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News