Jean-Gilles greets us with a wide, warm smile, inviting us to rest in the shade while we talk. Creative energy fills the air as artisans buzz about Jean’s ocean-side studio.
Jean is a husband, father of three young children, and a successful business owner in Haiti – but that wasn’t always the case.
Partners Worldwide has played a key role in equipping Jean to succeed over the past several years, and coming together today with Jean, his business mentor, and our staff feels like a family reunion.
As our visit begins, we learn more about Jean and his unlikely journey. Born the 11th of 14 children in the coastal city of Leogane, Haiti, Jean dropped out of school at a young age to help support his family. Though he lacked education and formal job skills, Jean tapped into his artistic talents and taught himself to carve.
While art came naturally to Jean, business know-how did not. He began selling his carvings – mostly small hearts and sculptures – but had a difficult time turning a profit, tracking finances, and discerning the right employees to hire.
Equipped to Thrive
Jean’s turning point came in 2011 when he attended a Partners Worldwide Business Training through REDES, our Local Community Institution in Leogane. The training provided him with the knowledge and resources to set prices, buy and track inventory, start accounting, and more.
Jean continued to receive training through REDES and entered into a mentoring relationship with a business professional in North America. On top of a personal friendship, Jean’s mentor provides him with practical, relevant advice that has helped him set realistic business goals.
And it’s safe to say Jean continues to surpass those goals… He now proudly employs 11 people, generates $1,000 US dollars in monthly sales, and sells his products across Haiti.
As we sit in the shade conversing, Jean earnestly expresses his gratitude:
“I am successful now because of the training and mentoring I have received from Partners Worldwide. My mentor has always advised me to believe in myself and believe in what I am capable of doing, and to take time to think through the goals of my business.”
Compelled by Gratitude
Because of Jean’s gratitude for the help he has received, he decided to give back and mentor other young entrepreneurs. He recently met with a furniture maker and a tailor, providing them with local business connections plus practical, culturally-relevant advice.
Jean is also training aspiring artisans, two of which have followed in his footsteps and started their own businesses.
Without knowing it, Jean has started a ripple effect – providing jobs through his business but also training entrepreneurs who are creating even more jobs.
Jean shares how empowering it has been to become a mentor himself. Mentoring and training others has established Jean as a leader in REDES and Leogane, reversing the image of Haitians always being on the receiving end of assistance.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Jean is affirmed in the truth that he has something valuable to contribute and that his efforts are creating a better future for Haiti.
With the support of Partners Worldwide, mentors, and Local Community Institutions, entrepreneurs like Jean-Gilles are able to grow successful businesses that create jobs and help foster a flourishing economic environment.