Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 3 (continued): PE Meets Fmr. Ambassador Raymond Joseph

On Wednesday evening, Project Eden was honored to meet and dine with Mr. Raymond Joseph, the former Ambassador of Haiti to the United States. He shared with us his harrowing experiences as an opposition leader against the Duvalier regime. Mr. Joseph also stated that for Haiti to regain her prominence on the world stage, two things are needed: a) an atmosphere where people are assured the land is secure, and b) publicity in the U.S. that Haiti is not as dangerous as media reports have led people to believe. Statistics show that crime in Haiti is considerably less than popular island destinations like Jamaica.

Ambassador Joseph also explained that Haiti was once a tourism destination whose only rival was Cuba. As the world prepares for political changes in Cuba to re-open the doors to tha country, Haiti must similarly be prepared and positioned for explosive rebirth. Project Eden is committed to assisting her!

At dinner, Ambassador Joseph also met our coffee farmers from Baradere. We were all impressed by their perseverance and dedication to join us: they traveled eight hours by car, crossing a river, to attend our conference. We are honored by the time and considerable effort they took to join us!

Day 3 (continued): Impacting the Coffee Sector

In addition to holding our business training conference, Project Eden is impacting the coffee sector by assisting local farmers in growing and processing high-quality, specialty coffee. Years ago, Haiti's impeccable climate made it a world-leader in coffee production. In fact, Haitian coffee accounted for more than 50% of the world's coffee. Trade embargoes by the U.S., instituted for political reasons, caused coffee farmers to abandon production and instead, grow other crops.

But Project Eden believes the revitalization of the coffee sector is crucial to Haiti's economic rebirth. On Day 3, we hosted three founding farmers from the CDB cooperative in Baradere, Haiti.

In today's session, PE facilitator Laurie Smith gave them greater insight into the international market by sharing the high demand for specialty coffee and providing strategies for how their cooperative can increase quality and production.

PE facilitator, Demitrus Evans, led a session on marketing and how to attract the foreign market.

Day 3: Sales and Pricing

On Day 3, Project Eden facilitator LaMeisha Taylor taught a lively morning session on sales techniques and strategies. Using her extensive background as a sales professional, Taylor introduced the concept of the "30 second commercial" and led participants through an interactive exercise in which they practiced introducing themselves, their business, and their product/service in 30 seconds. Taylor explained the importance of building repoire with clients and understanding "relationship buying." In a country where many business owners provide the same or similar products and services, implementing these tips will help set our PE participants apart from their competition.

In the afternoon, facilitator Laurie Threatt taught on pricing and how to widen profit margins. Many participants shared frustration that in order to make the sale, they had to lower their prices to match those of their competitors. In response, Threatt counseled them to consider how they could cut their costs so that even if they have lowered their prices, they have lowered costs so that they can still make a profit. This small piece of advice was pivotal in showing attendees that the concept of profit involves examining every area of one's business.