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In Haiti, Entrepreneurs Brush Up Their Business Skills


Ginette Antenor is the owner of Cymara’s, a beauty salon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “The reason why people, anyone, should choose my salon is because here you will receive good service, be welcomed,” she says.

She is one of the 75 entrepreneurs who are honing their business and marketing skills through a training and support program from the American Red Cross. These business owners learn skills such as how to define their market, how to assess their advantage over the competition, and how to reach out to new customers.

Recently, they learned more about ways to attract more business through promotions. “I am going to give a special discount for the next few weeks,” explains Ginette as she and her employee get ready to open their shop for the day. They set up the washing sink, the hair dryer, the brushes, the hair rollers and other equipment. When the first customers walk in, Ginette greets them and turns on the television set.

She has learned about the importance of entrepreneurship and managing your own business. “It is your customers you need to manage properly. You must know how to approach them, how to welcome them,” explains Ginette. “As long as you treat your customers well, you are also managing your business properly, as it’s the customers who make up your business.”

Unemployment is high in Haiti, particularly for young people. “It is not easy to find a job. I could have looked for a job for years, without finding it,” remarks Ginette. “When we work, when we have a business to manage and we know how to do it, it can improve your life.” This is why the Red Cross is committed to programs focusing on the development of businesses and the creation of jobs.

The support from the Red Cross allowed entrepreneurs to develop and expand their businesses. Ginette, now 29, started her business three years ago operating out of a private home. “Once we entered the project of the Red Cross we got some funding. There were some materials we didn’t have, so it allowed us to expand our business,” she explains. Access to credit allowed her to acquire assets and supplies that increased the value of her business threefold.

Ginnette already dreams of growing her business even further. “I would like to have several ‘Cymara’s, and more people working for me,” says Ginette.

Watch as another entrepreneur, Haitian artist Dominique, starts his own business in the short video, Haiti: Red Cross Helps Artist Live His Dream.

The American Red Cross is carrying out a comprehensive neighborhood redevelopment program in Carrefour-Feuilles, a community in Port-au-Prince badly damaged by the 2010 earthquake. The Red Cross is helping the 48,000 residents of the neighborhood to repair houses, rebuild community infrastructure, support health initiatives, and better prepare the area for disaster. To improve economic opportunities there, the Red Cross is offering vocational training for 300 men and women, mostly youth, through internships and support to enterprises. An additional 900 youth will benefit from job training opportunities in the surrounding communities.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.