New Transportation business launched in Haiti

  • Posted by Marina Vatav
  • March 12, 2013 7:34 AM EDT

Everyone who has ever been to Haiti probably noticed that transportation options are very limited, especially if you want to take a taxi from the airport, or simply get a car and driver that would take you to where you need to go.

When it comes to finding transportation services in Haiti the Internet is nearly empty of results. The options you have on the ground are the unauthorized taxi-drivers near the airport that harass you to use their services, tap-taps that would transport your bags on top of their trucks, and the more costly services of American companies such as Hertz, Dollar-Rent-A-Car, and others.

Haitian-Canadian Antony Jean, 35, noticed this open market since 2010 when he started traveling more frequently to Haiti to visit his mother who retired and moved from Canada back to her homeland.

It seemed a perfect business opportunity

"Whenever I come down to Haiti there's always a problem with transportation, getting from point A to point B. I saw a little void there. After the earthquake I would see big groups of missionary people coming down to Haiti and I always wondered how are they getting from the airport to their hotels," shared Antony.

It took almost two years and a lot of hard work before he was ready to launch ShuttleHT, a new transportation company that promises safety and reliability. It offers airport pick-up, transportation within Port-au-Prince, and to anywhere in Haiti, as well as tours.

This is not the first business venture Antony initiated. While a student at the University of Concordia in Canada, he organized student discount tours to Florida, a business he ran by himself for five years. That provided him with a pool of knowledge and experience.

In order to open his first business in Haiti, Antony invested his own money, purchased the vehicles and brought them from Canada to Haiti. It took him several months to register the business in Haiti, which he finally launched in January of this year.

Antony is certain that "You have to take risks in life".

Since he's been operating ShuttleHT, Antony says he didn't feel any pressure from the competition. However, it is not all smooth. As a new company the biggest struggle it faces is getting enough customers to keep the business running and profitable. "The challenge is letting people know that I'm available for them. Everything takes time," says Antony.

The Social approach

While working on boosting his new business, Antony is also putting together a Sports Summer Camp for 80 kids in Ponte Mega, one of the less developed areas of Haiti. He plans to bring ten international volunteers and involve ten other local volunteers, find sponsors and organize an active and memorable summertime for the kids who otherwise would have nothing to do on their long summer vacation.

"They will be playing soccer, I want to teach them volleyball, a little bit of track and field, handball, karate, I want to do day-trips with them as well. Maybe one time we'll go swimming. I have let the kids know already and they are excited," says Antony, who is also a former professional football player.

Antony sees both his business and his social initiative as a way to give back. His source of inspiration is his 72-year-old mother who retired in a small community in Haiti and is helping the people in the neighborhood on a daily basis.

He thinks that his discipline, determination, and hard work are the keys to achieving his goals. "I came here to work,” says Antony who moved to Haiti since January.