Despite the challenges of 2020, BEL Fellows launch IniKK: a training program to help bring entrepreneurial education to shoemakers in Haiti. 2019 BEL Fellows, Makendy Smith and Edwin Magloire along with several major partners and contributors launched IniKK, a program to help bring entrepreneurial education to shoemakers in Haiti. The program was geared to assist shoemakers who typically came from marginalized areas. Many of the shoemakers had years of experience, but dealt with obstacles which stunted their business growth. 30 young artisans from disadvantaged neighborhoods were selected to participate in the program as a first cohort.
The program’s successful execution took a skilled team from different backgrounds. Makendy Smith, the main coordinator behind the program, is one of Haiti’s celebrated shoemakers and co-founder of Mak Pa Nou Production. Flaurice Paul, also co-founder of Mak Pa Nou, was instrumental in the program. As an organizer, Edwin Magloire led in strategic planning, made a presentation on the importance of branding and his firm brandpill handled the event branding. 2018 BEL Fellow, and co-founder of GBI Haiti, Hans Beaugelus also contributed to the program. Hans served as an instructor led focus areas of business legalization.
IniKK received support from governmental organizations like YLAI (Young Leaders of Americas Initiative), the United States Embassy in Haiti. Entrepreneurial organizations such as CEDEL Haiti, and BEL Initiative were among several others. With such support, program participants received a wealth of knowledge, quality education, and expanded their network.
INIKK stands for Inisyativ Kore Kodonye (Initiative to support shoemaker), and is a socio-cultural project which aims to educate young shoemakers through practical and technical training in entrepreneurship. Social programs like IniKK help improve local economies. Especially when led by those who understand the environment. BEL fellows are encouraged to participate in such activities with their businesses.
A common thread amongst BEL Fellows, is that they operate their businesses and try to balance social responsibility. This speaks volumes to the type of entrepreneurship education provided by the BEL Initiative. More specifically, the social responsibility aspect of the program. Since 2018, the Albany Business League, headed by Sherrell Byrd, played a major role in encouraging fellows to continue embedding social responsibility into the culture of their companies. Many entrepreneurs initially think of helping their communities, but it is easyily forgetten when dealing with daily activities. IniKK is one of different social projects initiated by previous fellows inspired by the BEL Initiative program. The first success of this was from a 2017 fellow, Vernet Etienne, who organized a diabetes screening day in Haiti. Vernet was inspired to replicate a screening in his hometown after attending one during the BEL Initiative program.
The program took place on September 25th to September 27th at CEDEL Haiti, an entrepreneurial center led by Rock Andre in Port-au-Prince. Andrew Dilbert who leads Cultural Affairs for the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, gave a virtual welcome during the opening ceremony. IniKK focused on three different areas; 1. Entrepreneurship, led by Pascal Cherise, 2. Professionalism, led by Makendy Smith and 3. Business Legalization, led by Hans Beaugelus. These focus areas were reinforced by other sessions such as :
- Motivation for Entrepreneurship – Mackenson ORESTUS
- Marketing – Miguelito Jerome
- Strategic Branding – Dr. Edwin MAGLOIRE
- Finance Management – Jeanida AZOR
- Accounting Management – Flaurice PAUL
- Procedure for Obtaining Credit – Caisse Populaire Sainte-Anne
- Technical Advice – Rock ANDRE
A closing ceremony was held and awarded participants with a certificate of completion. However, it is not the end for the entrepreneurs. Other activities are in the works to keep the entrepreneurs engaged and provide opportunities. While Makendy is working on expanding the program, Edwin is assisting with the vision to create opportunities for program participants to expand their reach. This marks another achievement as more niche programs offer training opportunities, access, and exposure to entrepreneurs in Haiti.
Watch the video below for a verbal overview by Makendy Smith
Ronald Cetoute, Co-founder of BEL Initiative