Original article appeared in ComUniQ on March 22nd 2021
By Jupile Facile, Acceso Fellow
Any crisis, whatever its nature, is an opportunity to innovate and to conquer new markets. I believe we can say this is very relevant to Haiti, which has been experiencing socio-economic, political, and environmental crises for several decades.
A social entrepreneur through Bambou Facile
An entrepreneur at heart with a passion for creating positive change in my native country, I founded an agribusiness Bambou (“bamboo” in English) Facile, in 2015 which aims to promote bamboo cultivation in Haiti. Bambou Facile has been focused on the valorization of bamboo as a sustainable, natural, and versatile resource through building low-cost housing using bamboo as a primary component; manufacturing bamboo products that benefit producers and farmers alike; and creating a bamboo farm in order to create a supply of material and developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, while addressing environmental issues.
Due to its many uses, bamboo has the potential to play a large role in improving the livelihoods of poor rural people. Much of the bamboo used in Haiti has been harvested in the countryside, especially by women and children. Because of the scientific, environmental, economic, and social importance of bamboo, it is essential that strategies be developed for its sustainable management. However, knowledge to support such planning is limited. Enter my fellowship with Acceso.
Mobilizing local resources for community development
With my background as an entrepreneur, engineer, and as an alum of the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP), I was intrigued to learn about the Acceso Social Business Fellowship Program and honored to be selected to be part of the inaugural class of 2020.
Acceso is a social business builder that brings entrepreneurial solutions to global poverty. Acceso’s mission is to create fundamental and lasting economic change in the lives of rural smallholder farming families by providing them with a sustainable way to participate in formalized markets, to work themselves out of poverty with dignity. Acceso Haiti has been working in Haiti since 2014 in the value chains of peanuts and other crops.
At the beginning of my fellowship, I understood my role to be ensuring an efficient process of building a new moringa and community processing center at Anse A Veau (Nippes) for Acceso Haiti, that aims to transform moringa into powder and oil in Haiti for export in an innovative and catalytic way. My deliverables included managing the bid process (call for proposals, creation of assessment tools, proposal evaluation, preparation of contract documents); overseeing land acquisition; and executing the construction (priori and a posteriori evaluation tool, construction supervision).
This perception changed when I started exploring the operational and strategic framework of Acceso Haiti. Acceso Haiti aligns with almost all the values I possess as an entrepreneur and civil
engineer, especially with my deep interest in agribusiness and my passion for mobilizing local community resources for community development.
My fellowship experience allowed me to understand the practices of people who live in rural areas and the problems they are facing. Through observing and learning the efficient operations of Acceso Haiti, I learned effective mechanisms for the introduction of initiatives in these kinds of communities which has strengthened my ability to operate my own company Bambou Facile.
Inspiration and lessons from Acceso
Through working with Acceso and Acceso Haiti’s team for several months, I have benefitted from the following:
1. Tangible lessons on reforestation. Developing a good understanding of how Acceso Haiti planned and organized their nursery, seedlings distribution program, and parcel demonstrations enabled me to expand the Bamboo Reforestation Program in Haiti (PREBHA) which I originally launched in 2019 through Bambou Facile. PREBHA aims to create awareness around planting bamboo as a real weapon to fight against environmental and socio-economic problems and to give communities technical training on the use of bamboo which I consider necessary. I also learned about true teamwork from the skilled Acceso Haiti team who work with passion and who are always open to collaboration with other team members.
2. Inspiration and empowerment for young leaders. Through the monthly Acceso Fellows: Expert Chat Series with Acceso’s founder Frank Giustra and Acceso partners including the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Acumen, Kiva, and Hispanics in Philanthropy, I have been inspired to create a future that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative for Haiti. This series has also been the perfect opportunity to learn best practices and help us find purpose in our work. I feel more involved in the Haitian community and better recognize the potential wealth of resources available to develop and support our community through education and the valorization of bamboo.
3. Reminder to bring sustainability to the forefront. Bambou Facile’s mission is deeply intertwined with key sustainability concepts. However, Acceso offers an internationally recognized framework for regenerative agriculture and production. My learning experience with Acceso Haiti allows me to inspire young leaders and rural communities to make change in environmentally, socially, and economically responsible ways.
4. Local partnership potential. Traveling in the countryside and meeting with different professionals in Haiti and abroad allowed me to explore the country’s assets and look for potential collaboration. Bambou Facile currently has over 10 collaborations in more than five countries. I am looking forward to further creating and supporting local collaborations in Haiti, with Acceso Haiti’s support, to foster the creation of innovations that improve the quality of living for present and future generations.
Above all, I learned from the Haitian community how agricultural production can be rooted in the community, culturally present, and create positive impact. Haiti needs more “Accesos” to design its sustainable development journey! Thank you to the amazing Acceso team including Rob Johnson, Eric Carroll, Emma Bourcier, Patrick Dann Dorzin, and others.
Jupile Facile was part of the inaugural 2020 class of the Acceso Social Business Fellowship Program. Jupille Facile is the founder and CEO of the Haitian bamboo company Bambou Facile, which uses its bamboo to build earthquake-resistant, affordable houses that avoid the environmental issues related to the use of traditional housing materials, such as concrete. Jupille was a recipient of a prestigious scholarship with the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) and has a civil engineering degree from Quisqueya University, one of Haiti’s leading private universities. Jupille brings extensive engineering and construction experience working with various construction companies. His fellowship focused on leading the pre-construction phase and overseeing construction for Acceso Haiti’s new community processing centers.
Acceso’s mission is to create fundamental and lasting economic change in the lives of rural smallholder farming families. Acceso’s pioneering entrepreneurial model provides smallholder farmers with a sustainable way to participate in formal markets, enabling them to work themselves out of poverty with dignity and to prosper. Acceso focuses on five key initiatives: empowering farmers to improve agricultural production, guaranteeing market access, boosting local social entrepreneurship, improving food security, and market linked reforestation. Acceso’s current social businesses in Colombia, El Salvador, and Haiti have generated over $50M for more than 15,000 smallholder farmers and farm workers.
Acceso Haiti was launched by Acceso in 2014 with the goal of improving the livelihoods of Haitian smallholder farmers through market connections and improved, sustainable agriculture techniques. To date, Acceso Haiti has supported over 7,400 farmers through training, inputs, seedling distribution, and purchase commitments at fair market prices. Acceso Haiti has aggregated, tested for aflatoxin, and delivered over 1,700 metric tons of peanuts to dozens of buyers, and served as a critical, value-creating intermediary between smallholder farmers, domestic and international buyers and numerous organizations in Haiti. Acceso Haiti has generated over $5M in farmer income for its smallholder farmer network.