A skills-based and sustainable livelihood initiative, in partnership with local businesses in the Jacmel region, which will support the economic independence of the Haitian youth it serves
Idleness, frustration and crime are inherent in extremely poor areas across the globe. Without goals or the capability to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, young people are left with nowhere to put their energy or resourcefulness.
D2C believes that providing the youth of Haiti with marketable skills, a motivation to succeed in business and pride in their work will ultimately reduce the level of political unrest and delinquency that plagues the country. In turn, Haiti may yet become an economically thriving Caribbean nation.
With this in mind, D2C developed a skills-based and sustainable livelihood program in partnership with local businesses in the Jacmel region to support the economic independence of the Haitian youth it serves,
D2C's program revolves around a youth-run Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) rentals business for tourists and guests staying at the Cyvadier Plage Hotel, located in Jacmel. The youth practitioners receive training in basic business and financial management, administration, and marketing to ensure they have a strong professional foundation to operate the small business.
The SUP Business, administered through the D2C Livelihood Program, is access-oriented, meaning its focus is on improving young people’s access to market-driven services that will enhance their economic success. Moreover, their exposure to the formal market via the Cyvadier Hotel management and staff will provide potential future opportunities to expand their professional role in the burgeoning tourist industry in Haiti.
BUILDING HAITI'S TOURISM INDUSTRY
Although civil and political unrest is a constant issue in Haiti, the country has shown stabilizing markets that are enticing a new generation of tourists and adventure travelers to visit. Millennials in particular are demonstrating a strong interest in Haiti due to the increasing popularity in “voluntourism” which provides them with an opportunity to travel the world but also taps into their socially-minded and globally-informed consciousness. The industry is worth approx. $173 billion annually. A country like Haiti, whose global image is one of poverty and need, but that also boasts a vivid and colorful culture as well as incredible natural wonders, is a natural fit in this booming industry.
The new minister of Tourism in Haiti has stated that developing tourism is only the second priority (after agriculture) in developing the nation. While acknowledging that Haiti has suffered years of poor management at the government level, the natural, cultural and historical attractions Haiti possesses makes it the envy of other Caribbean neighbors. The investment the Haiti government is demonstrating towards building its tourism industry indicates that tourist amenities and supportive infrastructure are likely to continue improving and thus make the country more inviting to international travelers. As a result, the hospitality and recreation industries in Haiti will be a source of good employment for those who have the right skills and experience.
IMPACT AND PROGRESS
The D2C SUP livelihood Program has several notable impacts on the socio-economic status of the D2C youth and their community, including:
Empowering the D2C youth to be entrepreneurs/business owners
Generating social enterprise for the youth to create income and self-sustainability
Teaching responsibility, building a skill set, and engaging in the community
Exposing youth to the service industry and tourism economy
Bringing a new sport and tourist attraction to southern Haiti
Despite being surrounded by water, many children in Haiti are unable to swim. However, the youth practitioners took it upon themselves to spend their extra time strengthening their swimming capabilities as well as their SUP skills in order to provide professional level guidance and support to guests staying Cyvadier Plage Hotel. Our youth practitioners, (3 in our first year) attended the SUP kiosk every weekend during the school year and several afternoons a week during breaks in the academic year. The program and its practitioners received their first paying customer on February 3, 2019. Since that time they have served dozens of customers and have earned their own income.
There are 3 primary challenges that affect the SUP program. First, nationwide political unrest due to petrol shortages and government instability has caused local and nation-wide disturbances that have resulted in travel advisories, a decline in tourists and road closures from Port au Prince. Second, natural environmental hazards (rain season, seaweed infestation) limited the number of days the beach is open to paddlers and created unsafe water conditions that we are unwilling to allow our youth practitioners to work in. Finally, the current youth practitioners in the SUP program have academic responsibilities that take precedence over running the business and this can also restrict their ability to manage the rental kiosk. Nevertheless, D2C and the SUP Livelihood participants believe that the skills and experience they are gaining will ultimately serve them well as they reach adulthood and strive for financial independence and a good future.
Governments and civil society are coming to realize that youth are an asset for community development. Evidence suggests that livelihood development is the core driver of positive youth outcomes in areas such as, health (e.g., HIV/AIDS prevention), education, public safety and democracy and governance. Therefore D2C is determined to continue providing this type of support to vulnerable Haitian youth who may otherwise not have access to these skill sets and networks.
Ultimately, D2C would like to expand the livelihood program by forming cross-sector partnerships with management teams in other resort and tourist-friendly properties. In addition to paddleboard rentals and instruction, we want our youth practitioners to engage in other sectors of the tourism industry, such as financial management and accounting, human resources, logistics and management. Our aim is to simultaneously bolster the local Haitian tourism industry while also providing meaningful skills, financial support and networking opportunities to more impoverished youth seeking vocational training and meaningful work.