Wednesday, April 2, 2014

“Le Retour au Bercail” or "Coming Home"

The following blog post comes from Katyana André, Haitian-American businesswoman and first-time Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, who writes about her past two weeks in Haiti:

Haiti: An experience that is overwhelming, while also being deeply profound. Moreover, it is an opportunity to connect with an incredible group of people. And, in my case, it was an occasion to reconnect to my roots on a deeper level. What has captured me so far is that the people of Haiti possess a great sense of courage and tenacity for life that I have not seen anywhere else. A part of a culture, already my own, which I unfortunately had forgotten even existed. Farmer-to-Farmer made it possible for me to find it again.
Katyana conducting a business training for coffee producers

Elaborating on how I operate my own small business (Madame Sara) and being a Haitian-American woman who also speaks Creole, has allowed me to better relate to farmers and helped me to make them feel more comfortable with me. Coffee farmers in this area have limited business skills and little understanding of the kind of market for which they are producing, or the importance of servicing on a consistent basis a fast-paced market like the U.S one for instance. Many of my meetings/trainings have involved teaching farmers business/marketing tools and strategies necessary to build any business. Topics include understanding a market, and understanding how to create and meet demand, on both the domestic and international scales. Through the efforts of Farmer-to-Farmer and Makouti, farmers are coming to understand that for example, quality coffee is what the international market is interested in, bottom line and it is the market which will offer them the most benefits anyway.

Producer identifying next steps in building a better future for coffee 
Aside from the trainings, I also interviewed 9 coffee cooperatives on their current activities, current needs, as well as potential needs for the future. It was a thorough examination and questionnaire which helped clarify farmers’ obstacles and difficulties and how these can be addressed.

I believe that as a Haitian-American, this has been a well-needed experience not only to remind myself of who I am but also to help others in knowing that the world is much larger than we have made it, and, find a true sense of purpose. 

Kind regards,
Katyana C. André

1 comment:

  1. It was a real pleasure to work with Katyana and see the way the coffee producers responded to the information she shared with them based on her experiences as an American entrepreneur. Even though I have been doing the same work as Katyana, her ability to enter completely into their cultural perspective and help them own the work necessary to succeed in todays busineess world was effective and motivating. With me they still hope for the charitable handout, which I don't give and they search for a reference point that they can grasp. They are progressing, but the early progress is always slow. There are so many factors missing in the coffee industry in Haiti, that it will take time for them to be established. In the mean time it is important for entrepreneurial educators to keep building the solid foundation for the industry. Diaspora like Katyana can really help make a difference.