Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 4: Business Profiles, Microlending, and Coffee-Consultation via Skype!

In addition to holding business training sessions, Project Eden also compiled client assessment profiles of each attendee. Our short questionnaire seeks information on the type of business, its location, and the number of employees. We took information on the demographics of their best customers (eg: age, income, family size) and the means they use to promote their business (eg: word of mouth, internet, radio, etc.). Finally, we asked owners about their competition. Specifically, we wanted to know about their products/services, location, target market, etc.

This exercise was not only a way to gather information so PE can offer continued assistance after the conference is over, but so the owners can begin to brainstorm ways they can better serve their clients, increase their clientele, and achieve greater success over their competition.

During our afternoon session, Georgette Jean-Louis, Chief Operating Officer of Fonkoze, a Haiti-based micro-finance institution, explained Fonkoze's services and products, and gave tips on how to prepare for a loan. Since keeping accurate records builds a lender's confidence in one' ability to not only repay the loan but use the funding for the intended purpose, participants gained even greater appreciation for the bookkeeping presentation by Ms. Evans. Our attendees were engaged and asked many questions, signaling to us their desire to use every resource available to achieve business success.

Our coffee team also had a productive breakout session, this time led by our three farmers from Baradere! Given their success with co-op farming, they taught 18 local farmers on the benefits of co-op farming and how to start one. Afterward, everyone participated in a Skype call with a small U.S.-based importer of Haitian products. He provided a technical lesson on measures they could take immediately to improve their coffee quality (eg: keeping the ground clean during the harvest to avoid infecting the trees that have yet to be harvested).

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