Pushing through roadblocks

This week has been a bit slower than we wanted due to the atmosphere in Port-au-Prince. A combination of small protests, tire roadblocks and gun shots in response to a mandate calling former president Jean Bertrand Aristide to court, has made it harder to carry out our existing plans.

For example, yesterday was supposed to be the first day of training in Cite Limye, our newest site in a neighborhood of Cite Soleil. Only three out of the fifteen women signed-up came and only one of them had brought money to buy their first round of chlorine. At first I was disappointed, but probing helped to illuminate the situation. Given the activity in downtown, many of the women signed up for the training, mostly ti machans (small market vendors), hadn’t been able to go and sell goods. The women present guessed that the other women hadn’t come because they didn’t have the start-up money since they hadn’t been able to sell downtown. It’s encouraging to see that they understand the business model and importance of coming prepared to start selling chlorine once the training is over.

Port-au-Prince is mostly back to normal so we decided to postpone the training until next week to give the women the opportunity to participate. Our community manager will be spreading the word about the new dates and reminding the women as we get closer. An added bonus is that Olritch, the leader of our partner organization, PENA, in Cite Limye, is busy this week, but will be available to attend next week. Political unrest was always a possibility and the reality is that life goes on and the work continues!

This has been a busy summer, so I’m capitalizing on the unexpected free time today to meet with all three managers to work on our marketing strategy. Carline and Josette have already contributed greatly to developing effective strategies and language through their trial and error. This afternoon will allow Manouchka, our new manager, to learn from their experience and for them to collaborate in developing additional marketing language. My goals are 1) to compile a list of advertizing phrases to be used by during community events or potentially in radio spots down the road and 2) decide on a slogan to put on the back of the next order of t-shirts. We have spent developing marketing in both of our community manager trainings and we hope to build on that feedback and continue to allow our haitian staff to take the lead as we bring together a cohesive message about Kouzin Dlo to promote across Port-au-Prince. In the near future, these materials will support our quick expansion to new sites across the city.

About the author:
Jessica Laporte

Jess graduated in May of 2014 from Tufts University with a degree in International Relations and a concentration in Global Health, Nutrition and the Environment. One month later she was in Haiti launching Community Chlorinators (Kouzin Dlo), as the Co-Founder of the Archimedes Project's first clean water social enterprise. Jess is passionate about social entrepreneurship as a mechanism to allow communities to meet their own needs in an aid dependent society. 

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