Digicel has designated its 2012 Entrepreneurs of the Year Awards

Digicel has announced the winners of the third edition of its national Entrepreneur of the Year contest. Themed "Building our Tomorrow," this year's contest received 273 applicants for the six contest categories: Emerge; Food; Education, Tourism and Culture; Environment; Industry; and Services.


96 of the applicants were selected to participate in the next stage of the contest, and 24 made it to the national finals.


This year Digicel introduced the "Women's Community Business Prize" award to recognize extraordinary women whose businesses made a difference in their communities.


The 2012  winners


Lionel Pressoir, founder of Lojistik SA, has received the highest award - "Digicel Entrepreneur of the Year 2012". He is also the winner of Education, Tourism and Culture category for promoting tourism in Haiti through Lojistic SA, a company that offers regional tours by plane, bus or donkey, fully adapted to customer demand.


The idea for Lojistic SA came in 2004 when Pressoir's son returned to Haiti and wanted to arrange a tour for his friends. Pressoir also manages the Destination Haiti Foundation to promote travel to Haiti.


"Tourism is a lifetime experience," he says. "You get people with dead batteries - you send them home well charged."


Prior to creating Lojistics SA, Lionel Pressoir had started two other big companies in the fashion industry employing over 600 people.

"Emerging Entrepreneurs" award went to Gabriel Coupaud of the Compagnie Haïtienne de Location, a company that offers machinery and equipment rental services.


The company's growth has been extraordinary in less than three years. Compagnie Haïtienne de Location employs about 30 people and it has a fleet of 45 different pieces of heavy machinery, excavators to bulldozers and generators. Its main clients are among the best known NGOs and private companies in Haiti.


The company will soon open branches in Cap-Haitien and Jacmel. A medium-term plan is to have a presence in major cities. And in five years it expects to increase beyond the current size of its competitor.


"Industry" category award was won by Stéphane Lerouge of Adonel Betonex SA.


While completing his master's degree in management of construction projects in Canada, Stéphane Lerouge made a feasibility study on how to establish a factory of pre-mixed concrete. He did not know then that two years later he would be testing this factory.


He returned to Haiti in 2005 as his family was already in the construction sector. He used a plot of land as collateral for a bank loan of $300,000 and started Betonex in 2007 with three concrete trucks mixers, a concrete pump, and a lot of determination.


In 2010 his company merged with Luis Garcia Concrete Adonel, the largest private Concrete company in South Florida to create Adonel-Betonex, a new force in the construction industry in Haiti.


Today, the company has three concrete plants, 30 concrete trucks, three concrete pumps, and a dynamic staff of 45 employees.


"Services" Category award went to Kurt Jean Charles of Solutions SA


At the age of 23, Kurt Jean Charles began working as a programmer in a bank. He loved his job, but he was driven by a constant need to go beyond his comfort zone. Eventually he quit his job. And together with three former coworkers, Kurt started Solutions SA, a software design company.
They rented an office, and a few weeks later signed their first contract with the bank they had previously worked for.


In 2009 they were one of the two finalists selected for the Haitian Price Pioneers of Prosperity. They kept their skills at the forefront of technology and maintained contact with Google on different types of projects.


Agribusiness category award winner is Aliette Nelson of Positivité


Aliette Nelson returned to Haiti from Canada in 2006 with only 50 Gourdes in her pocket. She knew she had to find a way to earn a living very quickly. Her immediate instinct was to do what gave her the greatest pleasure - Cooking.


At first she was cooking and selling Haitian pancakes to the local people and school children in Cayes-Beraud. Soon she could hardly cover the demand.


A year later, she got a small contract from GRAFHES NGO to cook nutritious food for school children in the neighborhood.


That's when Nelson rented a room and set up a bakery, and later another one. The number of children fed daily increased from 7500 to 12,800. Now the company employs 22 people directly and 50 indirectly.


Recently Nelson met the First Lady of Haiti, Sophia Martelly, to be part of the program "Aba Grangou," a national initiative that aims to fight against malnutrition, especially among children.


Environment category award winner is Jovenel Dubois of JEDCO SA


In 1995, with the arrival of U.S. forces in Haiti, grounds maintenance and janitorial services were in great demand. Mr. Jacques Dubois took the opportunity to start a business to meet those needs, and thus founded JEDCO Services. His brother, Jovenel, returned to Haiti shortly after to join the company. The two began to work very closely with the UN in providing their services.


Unfortunately, in 2001, Jacques died, and Jovenel took over leading the company since then.


The market niche of JEDCO Services is in removing solid and liquid waste, cleaning septic tanks and portable toilets rentals. Their headquarters is in Port-au-Prince, and they have offices in Cap-Haitien, St. Marc, Cayes, Gonaives, and recently in Jacmel.


JEDCO's mission is to introduce good hygiene practices throughout Haiti and raise the level of waste management at the international level.


Currently the company has over 70 rolling contracts with many NGOs, local authorities, embassies, MINUSTAH, UNICEF, and other customers.

The Award "Business Women in the Community" was won by Shelley Clay of Entreprises Papillon


When Shelley Clay arrived in Haiti from the United States in 2007 in order to adopt a child, she was touched by the plight of women who felt obliged to give up their children for economic reasons. She and her husband felt that they had to do something to improve the lives of these women.


They considered setting up a charity or an NGO to help Haitian women, but opted for a company instead with the thought that what they needed was a sustainable stream of income. The Clays had an interest in crafts and this gave them the direction they needed.


With her husband and their two biological children, Shelley moved to Haiti in 2008 and set up a jewelry factory in their living room, employing four women. She gives each design the distinguished name of the women who made them.


Now, Papillon employs 240 women and men who work as artisans producing handbags, children's clothing, iPad covers and more.  


This is due largely to grants received from the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) and design recommendations from the designer, Donna Karan, and the support of fans like Bill Clinton. The Papillon line is sold at various stores such as GAP, Walmart, Urban Zen World, and Disney. For the next five years Clay says his goal is to use 1,000 women.

Article Tags: #2012 #Haiti #Digicel #Entrepreneur of the year #Awards
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