For International Women’s Day, we asked our colleague, Suzie Mondésir, Director of the National Support Program for Organizing Haitian Entrepreneurship (PANSEH), to share her thoughts on gender equality in Haiti, the many challenges women business owners face and the impact that financial inclusion can have on those women.
Based on your experience, what are the main challenges when it comes to gender equality in Haiti?
My years as an entrepreneur have shown me that the challenges with regard to gender equality in Haiti are significant on three levels: access to resources, decision making, and access to knowledge.
How is the National Support Program for Organizing Haitian Entrepreneurship (PANSEH) making a difference in this regard?
PANSEH has provided women with access to:
- Financial resources: By supporting partner financial institutions in reviewing their product and service offerings. They now offer women entrepreneurs options that are better suited to their specific needs.
- Employment: By implementing specific measures to support the development of female entrepreneurship, such as the Antrepriz Paw contest, which provided customized coaching to 15 winners.
- Markets: By facilitating the integration of women into organized productive channels. Our efforts have enabled some 1,000 women to access financial and non-financial services.
- Capabilities: By promoting a line of non-financial services that are adapted to the situations of women entrepreneurs and supporting partners in deploying that line.
- Empowerment: By rolling out training programs on leadership and self-esteem for female business owners.
What contribution to this project are you most proud of, in particular with regard to supporting women entrepreneurs?
I would say making a difference in the lives of the business owners we support. As we approach the end of this project, the testimonial that has stayed with me was from a young woman who came to thank me in person. PANSEH had given her the courage to believe that, despite having had a very difficult childhood and illiterate parents, she too could aspire to owning her own business and creating jobs. I often get emotional when I talk about it because I know what kind of impact a simple show of encouragement can have!
I also made a promise to my mother, who was my biggest supporter. She died in the earthquake that devastated Haiti over a decade ago. Before she passed away, I promised her that I would find a way to give back to the community, just like she had.
My mother was also a business owner in Haiti, and I feel an emotional connection to her every time PANSEH helps a woman succeed. Today, not only have I had the opportunity to keep my promise by giving back to the community, but I get to work in an area that she was extremely passionate about: entrepreneurship.
It’s with that sense of pride that I’m bringing this wonderful project to a close.