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KayTek—Unleashing the Power of Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in Haiti

With the third anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, on January 12, 2010, accounts of Haiti’s reconstruction shortfalls peppered the media. A host of articles similar to this one posted on January 5, 2013 in the Economist: Haiti Still waiting for recovery: Three years after a devastating earthquake, the “Republic of NGOs” has become the country of the unemployed recounted Haiti’s journey since January 12, 2010. In substance:

  • The disbursement of billions of dollars in post-earthquake assistance produced relatively few results
  • Haiti’s business environment remains challenging. Haiti ranks 174th in the 2013 IFC Doing Business indicators, worst in the Western Hemisphere
  • Reconstruction efforts lag far behind expectations
  • Unemployment is still extremely high; estimates range from 60 to 80%
  • The scarcity of employment opportunities poses a serious challenge to the country’s stability

In contrast with this narrative, this article discusses how an Archimedean Entrepreneur[1]*—Mathias Pierre[2], Chairman and CEO of GaMa Enterprises S.A. (operating under the brand KayTek)—is unleashing the power of entrepreneurial solutions for prosperity in Haiti. Indeed, Pierre’s company—KayTek[3]—is committed to “building back better”in Haiti, by providing not only safe and affordable housing solutions to the Haitian market but also sustainable economic opportunities to hundreds of young Haitians.

KayTek is a homegrown building solutions company that produces seismic and hurricane resistant structures in cold formed steel for the Haitian market. Introduced to Haiti by Pierre and his business partners following the earthquake, this technology has numerous benefits. First, construction is quick and simple allowing low-cost, low-skilled labor to be used with high quality results. Second, steel offers architectural and design flexibility. Finally, steel construction is more durable and safer than traditional construction. In addition, KayTek’s computer driven manufacturing system allows the company to propose affordable and safe housing to the Base of the Pyramid all the way up to multi-story commercial and institutional structures.

KayTek’s vision, however, goes beyond just manufacturing building materials and building housing solutions. KayTek also seeks to maximize economic impact through the creation of a franchise network of young engineers and builders. KayTek franchisees go through an intensive year-long program focused on steel frame technology and entrepreneurial skills in partnership with the Foundation ETRE Ayisien,[4] an entrepreneurial institute also set-up by Pierre. As part of the on-the-job training part of the program, franchisees then apply their skills on concrete construction projects.  Upon completion of this curriculum, the franchisees are equipped not only to support KayTek’s projects, but also to sell and assemble housing solutions on their own.

In September 2012, KayTek graduated its first class of over 200 franchisees. Using KayTek’s technology, the franchisees rebuilt in four months the Sacré-Coeur secondary school, an iconic institution that had collapsed during the earthquake. Since their graduation, KayTek franchisees have also completed dozens of construction projects ranging from a residential compound for the middle-class to hotel bungalows. As KayTek expands across the country, the company’s ambition is to scale-up this model and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

In less than two years, KayTek—a homegrown solution—has opened a factory in Port-au-Prince, built a sustainable business with a multimillion dollar sales pipeline, trained hundreds of potential franchisees and demonstrated the efficiency of a new technology in Haiti to provide safe, affordable and durable structures. KayTek is now considering expansion into Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s next engine of growth.

KayTek is a result of the determination of an Archimedean Entrepreneur committed to provide an entrepreneurial solution to two of Haiti’s most pressing challenges—the shortage of safe and affordable housing solutions and the scarcity of employment opportunities. Mathias Pierre built a team and leveraged the skills and funding from both local and international partners— including the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF)[5]—to provide this bold and innovative solution.

However, the path to success has been difficult. While KayTek is a success story in the making, Mathias Pierre remains a statistical anomaly in Haiti. The challenge is to replicate Pierre’s experience and success across different sectors. Opportunities abound from agri-business, to sanitation to healthcare and education. Archimedean Entrepreneurs across all these sectors need to be nurtured, celebrated and supported.

Entrepreneurial solutions for prosperity will be instrumental in reversing the aid paradigm, alleviating the pressure on fragile states and altering the narrative on countries like Haiti. Development partners and policymakers have a major role to play in supporting this innovative approach to economic development. The development community should not shy away from taking risks and supporting successful entrepreneurs like Mathias Pierre who innovate, take risks and build profitable businesses that solve social challenges.

*Archimedean Entrepreneurs offer solutions for all key stakeholders in their operating environment— customers, owners, workers, and community. In doing so, they can align incentives for all to collaborate towards prosperity creation.

The term was first coined by Eric Kacou—Co-founder and Partner of Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners and author of Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in BoP Markets (Wharton Publishing 2011

 

 


[1] Eric Kacou EntrepreneurialSolutionsforProsperityforBOPmarkets(Wharton Publishing, 2011) [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathias_Pierre [3] www.facebook.com/kaytekhaiti[4] http://www.mathiaspierre.ht/etre/ [5] http://haiti.clintonfoundation.org/longterm_recovery.php?id=49&issue_area=education&project_type=long-term_recovery http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRK_nPdCMxc

Comment #1

 Intrepreneurial solutions is what we need in disaster situations. In addition to Haiti it will be good to pilot the initiative in other countries that are prone to earthquakes or similar hazards. I am very happy about this support to Haiti, and possible initiatives in the Sub Saharan Africa. Well done.

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