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A New Partnership Born in Haiti

It all comes down to relationships. The heart of our work is about people coming together—leveraging their unique knowledge, skills, and resources—to end poverty through business.

One way we do this is by fostering relationships between volunteer mentors, called Business Affiliates, and our Local Community Institution (LCI) partners.

Business Affiliates walk alongside LCIs long term. They share expertise, assist with developing strategic plans, serve as a sounding board, and provide financial support.

For the past year, the Association of Entrepreneurs in Pignon (ASEP), our LCI partner in Pignon—a town in the Central Plateau of Haiti—has been praying for a team of Business Affiliates with whom they could partner.

ASEP is led by Sanon Etienne, along with six other business owners who share a passion for service. Whether engaging with their employees, their customers, or their community—they strive to serve with excellence. The vision of ASEP is to encourage its members to understand that business is an opportunity to serve and improve the conditions of human life. They equip and support entrepreneurs by providing business training, mentoring, and access to capital.

This past year, the leaders of ASEP have been praying that God would bring them partners who also share this passion for service—and their prayers have been answered.

Over the past few months, God has brought together a team of four volunteers who desire to serve in Haiti. At the end of September, they made their first trip to Pignon, Haiti to meet with the team at ASEP.

The new Business Affiliate team is composed of Gip Marchette (Athens, GA), Chris Bowles (Fargo, ND), David Norvell (New Smyrna Beach, FL), and Dave Genzink (Holland, MI).

While Gip, Chris, and David are new to Partners Worldwide, Dave has been on staff at Partners Worldwide for 14 years. He views his Business Affiliate role as a way to stay involved after his retirement next year.

The knowledge and experience of this Business Affiliate team range widely from aquaculture and horticulture, to solar and water systems; from cross-cultural leadership and accounting, to steel fabrication and appropriate technology. This vast base of knowledge and experience equips them well to serve and advise ASEP and the entrepreneurs in ASEP’s network.

During their visit, the Business Affiliate team and the leaders of ASEP spent time getting to know one another and began planning and dreaming for the future together.

They also visited with several entrepreneurs in ASEP’s network, such as Israel, a fashion designer; Johnson, who owns a dry-cleaning business; and Micul Pierre and his fiance (pictured below) who run a grocery store.

In reflecting on their time together, Sanon (leader of ASEP) remarked: “I would like to thank Partners Worldwide and the Business Affiliate team for an excellent trip. I am looking forward to the concrete action that will take place within this partnership.”

The Business Affiliate team had similar reactions. This first visit with ASEP left them overwhelmed by the incredible potential that lies in the Central Plateau of Haiti, where Pignon is located.

With strong local business leaders, abundant natural resources, and the many capabilities of ASEP’s leadership team—the future is bright. We look forward to sharing more updates as this partnership continues to grow and develop!