Social Enterprise Solutions to the Salt Problem in Haiti

Colorado State University Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise student Ana Carolina Gonzalez7/1/13 – Stories from the Field: This guest post was written by Ana Carolina González, a student in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program who has been working with Haitian salt producers.

We left Colorado expecting to have a hard time in Haiti trying to work with a complicated cooperative business model. We had been struggling for almost 2 semesters to understand ESPRI-Sel and trying to sell the idea to others.

It took less than 2 days in Anse Rouge, Haiti to have a completely different, more positive perspective. We will not be working with a co-op model, but rather a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), where ESPRI-Sel will be operated as a social enterprise with part of its revenue going directly back to the community.

Locally produced salt in a Haitian market

Locally produced salt in a Haitian market

We witnessed all the work AMURT has done in the region and we feel very confident ESPRI-Sel will have a positive impact on the community. It has the potential not only to create more jobs, but also to improve the working conditions of the salt harvesters, most of which are local women. Eventually we expect to increase access to iodized salt for the average Haitians, thus improving public health.

It has been a great experience to be in the field and actually see and understand what we have been working on, and it has been very rewarding to work with such gracious hosts as everyone in AMURT. In a country where NGOs come and go without really integrating with the people, it has been impressive to see how AMURT is involved with the communities they work with. Instead of imposing solutions, they work with communities to strengthen local capacities and come up with answers that include the people and can be sustainable without external intervention. As a previous GSSE team found, there are in fact some bright spots in Haiti.

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3 Responses to Social Enterprise Solutions to the Salt Problem in Haiti

  1. Frantz Lubin says:

    This looks like it has real potential Mrs. Gonzalez. Thanks for the post.

    I would like to know though, what were the circumstances that made you and your team decide on the PPP model versus the co-op? Is this business venture sustainable long term? Is the demand for the finished product growing? Do they offer competitive pricing? Does ESPRI-Sel have any local or national competitors and what advantages(competitive) does ESPRI-Sel to make it a viable enterprise?

    What your team is doing is critical to Haiti’s recovery and future growth. These SME’s will hopefully be able to market themselves to larger investors(diaspora communities) and expand to scale. Well…hopefully. 🙂

    Keep us posted as this venture progresses. We need all the inclusive growth we can generate.

    Take good care.


  2. Ana Gonzalez says:

    Thank you for your comment Mr. Lubin.
    The main reason why we are looking into a PPP rather than co-op is land ownership. We have encountered problems with that issue and we anticipate more of the same would arise from a co-op structure where there is no one single owner. Because our production structure consists of different basins and crystallizers (these last ones are where the final salt comes from), whoever would own the land where crystallizers are located could potentially claim they own the end product.
    At the same time, we think having private interests invested in the project could potentially secure its continuity and make it sustainable.
    We have other national competitors and that is one of the things we are still trying to figure out. We don’t want to create a negative impact on the already existing small producers, so we are looking into the formal markets (where most salts are imported) and also analyzing the possibility of exporting our product as gourmet Haitian sea salt.
    As of now, we still have not set a price, but based on our analysis, we anticipate being able to sell at very competitive prices.
    Please let us know if you have further questions.

    Thank you very much,

  3. Pingback: Distribution and Ethical Challenges in Building a Business in Haiti | Make a Difference

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