Inveneo Haiti Connected Cities Archives

Mentoring Small ICT Businesses for Big Impact

  1. Posted by Inveneo on July 11, 2012 in the categories: Economic Development, News
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Inveneo launched the Bati Anfòmatik Teknisyen yo ak Inveneo (BATI) Program to train and certify rural Haitian IT entrepreneurs to deploy and support a high speed, broadband wireless network in rural population centers across Haiti. BATI participants are rural youth who have experience in information technology and an interest in becoming entrepreneurs. Through the BATI program, Inveneo trained youth in the technical skills needed to deploy broadband and computers in rural areas, and how to run their own ICT businesses, graduating 64 new Haitian ICT entrepreneurs.

To help jump-start their businesses and provide support to the broadband network, Inveneo brokered meetings between the newly trained ICT entrepreneurs and local ISPs to create partnerships to expand the broadband network and serve rural clients. The match-making was a success – the network, supported and deployed by Inveneo-trained ICT entrepreneurs, now provides access to broadband Internet to over 20% of the Haitian population, ensuring that rural schools, healthcare centers, non-profits, and enterprises can help Haiti build back better after the devastating earthquake.

MicroMentor mentorship

Yet, training and business leads alone do not create sustainable entrepreneurs. Long-term mentorship is crucial for entrepreneurs to survive and expand in the competitive ICT marketplace and in Haiti’s under-developed business climate. To help the entrepreneurs, Inveneo launched a partnership with MicroMentor in May 2011 to build a mentor-support network for the business aspects of the BATI program.

Since the program’s inauguration, 46 Inveneo-trained BATI entrepreneurs, representing 72 percent of the entrepreneurs trained by Inveneo in Haiti, have joined the program as entrepreneurs seeking advice from seasoned businesspeople. Twelve local Haitian business professionals and staff of Inveneo Certified ICT Partners (ICIP) around the world have signed up as mentors to provide advice to the entrepreneurs, resulting in a total of 26 mentoring relationships.

BATI entrepreneurs use the MicroMentor website to find and engage with professional mentors. In addition, the BATI entrepreneurs can pose specific questions related to their businesses and mentors can post responses, starting a dialogue that can be viewed by all entrepreneurs. There are also groups where members are able to participate in discussions and find resources specific to their program, such as Inveneo products and business plan templates.

The program is providing much needed encouragement as well as start-up expertise to the entrepreneurs. The feedback has been very positive. Here are a few examples:

«Il est toujours disponible pour moi quand j’ai des questions”. – It [the website] is always available to me when I have questions.»
«Je profite encore de vous féliciter pour ce programme, il est vraiment utile à tous ceux qui font partie et il porte du succès dans leurs entreprises » – I would like to again take this opportunity to thank the program; it is truly useful for everyone and the help that is needed to create a successful business.
« Nous avons beaucoup parlé de mon business, et elle m’a donné des bons conseils. » – We have spoken a lot about my business, and [my mentor] has given me a lot of great advice.

Overall, the program has been very successful in supporting Inveneo-trained entrepreneurs. The ultimate gauge of its success will be the number of entrepreneurs whose businesses survive the crucial first two years of operations.

Beyond Haiti, one of Inveneo’s aims over time has been to promote and strengthen collaboration among Inveneo Certified ICT Partners in the twenty plus countries in which they work. This initiative is our first opportunity to build collaboration among the francophone countries of Africa and with Haiti. Through MicroMentor, we are beginning to see trans-Atlantic mentoring matches being formed, and are very excited about the potential impact.

Inveneo partners can now support one another and share their expertise. They may be small businesses, but we see big impact in reaching our ultimate goal of improved ICT entrepreneur economic self-sustainability.

20% of the Haitian Population Now Has Broadband Access via the Haiti Connected Cities Program

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 20, 2012 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects
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Inveneo is committed to bringing real economic and education opportunities to Haiti in 2011-2012 through the Haiti Rural Broadband Initiative, also known as the Haiti Connect Cities program, and its related efforts, launched in January 2011. HRBI is a collaborative program involving Haitian Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Haitian IT entrepreneurs and the many organizations – NGOs and otherwise – that will benefit from access to reliable and affordable broadband Internet.

Building on last year’s progress, in the first quarter of 2012, Inveneo’s Haiti Rural Broadband Initiative (HRBI) continues to make progress in all key program areas:


1st Quarter 2012 HRBI Report

Network Build Out/Infrastructure
Inveneo engineers and our local partners have successfully completed Zones 1 – 5 of the network. This backbone comprised of hundreds of radios at 31 tower sites now provides a fully operational and stable network to connect 65 clients in these regions of Haiti.

Entrepreneur Training – BATI Program
A total of 64 BATI have now been trained throughout six provinces of Haiti: Artibonite, Cap Haitien, West, South East, Central Plateau and Grand Anse.

Network Governance and Operations
Inveneo handed off the day-to-day operations of the network to Haitian organizations in the first quarter, reaching a significant milestone.

Inveneo established a framework by which BATI provide the first line of support followed by the Haitian telecommunications company Haicom and their team, who have taken over the Network Operations Center (NOC) responsibilities. On a daily basis, they monitor the ever-growing rural network while the ICIP Transversal handles every physical installation and all maintenance of the equipment across Haiti.

Monitoring & Evaluation
Independent evaluation experts Mission Measurement (funded by the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Initiative) released a draft version of the closing report on the social and financial impact of the Haiti Connected Cities program. Some affirming statistics from the report include:

  • As of April 2012, the broadband network covers 20.72% of the Haitian population.
  • In the case of NGOs, the increased efficiency [from broadband Internet connectivity through HRBI] drives development outcomes by allowing the organizations to better deliver their services through increasing beneficiary access, service quality and timeliness.
  • One of the strongest assets of the model, the BATI training program, has led to a networked group of local IT entrepreneurs who have built their own businesses, acquired clients, hired employees, obtained ISP contracts, and enjoyed increased incomes.

Challenges and Solutions
Customer acquisition is slower than anticipated. This is due to a number of factors, including: Complex processes within the ISPs to absorb the BATI; Speed of customer order process – organizations in rural Haiti need to work through 
multiple steps in order to get contracts signed by their country offices located in Port-au-Prince; Insufficient sales capabilities of the BATI themselves.

We are currently seeking additional funding in order to conduct supplemental entrepreneurial, marketing and process training with the BATI to accelerate customer acquisition. Inveneo is currently developing a detailed proposal to share with potential funders.

Haiti Connected Schools

Inveneo is partnering with Microsoft, World Vision and HP to deliver 40 ICT labs in rural schools across the regions where the broadband network has been deployed. In Q1 of 2012, HCS added solar-powered computer labs to an additional six schools (19 in all) in four departments in Haiti: Artibonite, Central Plateau, Ouest and Nord. One school installation was completed with a new solar partner, Solar Electric Light Fund, a US-based non-profit. Also, 18 teachers were trained with the new basic curriculum and 5 with the advanced administrator curriculum. This is brings the total teachers trained to 98.

The next phase of Haiti Connected Schools will bring rapid program expansion to more schools in rural Haiti now that processes, materials and qualified local resources are in place. Inveneo and NetHope received a grant from Intel to provide basic computer training in rural communities. Together, the two organizations will leverage the curricula, local trainers, train-the-trainer approach and computer labs implemented through HCS to offer training to new populations in the communities.

Working Past Bees for Long-Distance WiFi Networking

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 25, 2012 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects
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Planning an installation in a remote area asks for a lot of careful thought: one doesn’t want to be in the middle of nowhere missing a specific piece of equipment thus having to drive back several kilometers to complete the work. The unexpected being expected, even after several installations, you are never too cautious. But, what level of ’unexpectedness’ can a tower full of wasp nest be?

Bees in general are not really harmful to humans. Living in a tropical country you have been stung enough by these insects to know if you are of the allergic type. At best if you have a cold or indigestion it may cure you. This level of risk falls into the category of negligible.

But talking of something and seeing it right in front of you are two different things. The colors, the noise, the menacing zigzags and of course old memories, all this being put together, you think twice before even starting to put on the climbing gears. And just when your courage is at a sufficient level to face the wasp, local superstitions shatter it in thousands of pieces.

I am Jeffrey Carre of Transversal and recently we had to verify an old installation at Pont-Sonde, a small town on the way to Gonaive, pass St Marc in Haiti. With no hills to climb, and the site being right in the middle of the town, it’s not a difficult site.

Food and water are at hand ad you don’t have to drive a long way to get to a passable road. The aiming is generally easy in such a flat land that these usually take half a day of work to setup everything and pass the acceptance test. But…

“They can give you a fever so unbearable that you may not have enough time to go to the hospital,” the guardian says. Some time ago our townsfolk pride would have us walk past that statement with a “Let me show you how we do things,” tone and maybe we would have shamefully been victim of that ego… But today that bee problem was taken seriously. The questions is how to get pass that problem:

 

  • Bug spray is a real bad way the get rid of them – it kills some and infuriates the rest. They fall on the ground and fly back at you right away with their last remaining breath. And personally seeing all those creatures fall and die, you cannot help to think of yourself as an evil, heartless person (just a little).
  • Smoke. Yes but you have to climb high enough to reach them and they are sometimes in unexpected places. You have to use it on your way up and also, less easy, on the way down. Every nest that is on your path must be submitted to smoke for long enough to drowse the wasps. We don’t have that time.
  • Gas/oil. We once used this to repel hornets from the lightning arrestors they were using to construct their mud nest. We didn’t have enough with us and we couldn’t think of a good way to spread it.
  • Fire, same almost as smoke but for clear reasons, not a good solution.
  • Luck, hopefully you go up and don’t put your hand right in the middle of a nest. We engineers prefer not to play with luck to much. We prefer quantifiable and measurable facts, but then again, sometimes it surprises you pleasantly.

The guardian happened to be a beekeeper and had in his possession a pair of protective suits and it would only take him 5 minutes to get them for us. No need to tell what a relief he was to us. Maybe he enjoyed being our hero but he continued to help us by reassuring us. We learned that:

  • Bees, wasps, and hornets only attack when they sense danger. So if we calmly approach them they will stay away from us.
  • They tend to build their nest at a specific height, not to high to avoid strong currents and not to low to avoid the heat and natural enemies. So as soon as we pass that “activity zone” there is no need to watch out for them.
  • And the most beautiful part: bees are a sign of life and hope, and as we are spreading life and hope via our Internet installation they are doing the same with the flower pollen.

We put on the protective suits under the climbing gears and started to work. And as the day goes by, I couldn’t help to think of the bees working as group, coordinating their movements, each taking care of a specific task.

This was at our 3rd site of the day and the sun was getting low on the sky. As we climbed down the tower and started to pack, nature was slowly falling asleep and even the bees were regaining the house. Their nests that were once very busy spots during the day were now calm – technology and nature in quiet harmony.

A Successful First BATI Forum in Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on February 1, 2012 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects
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On a sunny morning, BATI (Bati Anfòmatik Teknisyen yo ak Inveneo) participants reached an important milestone as they looked out over the hills of Pétion-Ville: the BATI Forum. This was the first major national meeting of the members of the program. Its goal was to give an overview of efforts of their colleagues across Haiti – and to coordinate them.

Nineteen BATI technicians from four different regions of the country attended the inauguration of the Forum on November 15 at the new headquarters of Inveneo Haiti in Juvénat, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. Until that point, a total of 36 BATI members had been trained, and since then another 15 participated in a training in Cap Haïtien.

The expansion of BATI personnel is assuming a growing importance for the continuity of the Haiti Connected Cities program with the approach of Inveneo’s depart from Haiti, projected for April 2012. Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to get the tools of information and communications technologies into the hands of organizations and people who need them most, and which has worked in Haiti since the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

The assembly was organized by Emmanuella Stimphat, CEO of Connet’Em and BATI for Grand-Goâve, and Jerry Joseph, CEO of JigabIT Plus and BATI for Léogane. The opening presentation of the event was made by FJ Cava, Director of the BATI program at Inveneo, after which Ralph Étienne, CEO of Central Point Inc. and BATI for Mirebalais, gave a brief overview of the day’s program.

Each BATI presented a “sound byte” on his or her role in their territory and their small business. The participants had the opportunity to share their experiences and also pass on their complaints. They also learned important new skills from Inveneo technical volunteers Eyleen Chou and Andrew Dupree.

Distinguished guests, Mr. Jonas Dumersain and Mr. Yves-Fils Stimphat spoke about accounting and legal issues, respectively, which provoked stimulating discussions.

The participants also set in place standards for identifying themselves to clients and each other such as standard IDs and uniforms, registration with the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and a diagram of the board of management. Overall, the gathering provoked a range of discussions on the big picture of the organization and functioning of the BATI program.

Un matin ensoleillé sur une terrasse qui donne sur les collines de Pétion-Ville, le programme Bati Anfòmatik Teknisyen yo ak Inveneo (BATI) a atteint un jalon important : le Forum BATI. C’était la première grande réunion nationale des cadres du programme, avec le but de donner une vue d’ensemble des efforts de leurs collègues à travers Haïti — et de les coordonner.

Dix-neuf techniciens BATI de quatre différentes régions du pays ont assisté au lancement du Forum le 15 novembre au nouveau siège d’Inveneo Haïti à Juvénat, une banlieue de Port-au-Prince. Jusqu’au moment, un total de 36 cadres avaient été formés, et depuis ce temps-là à peu près 15 davantage ont participé dans une formation à Cap Haïtien.

L’augmentation du corps de personnel de BATI prend une importance croissante pour la continuité du programme « Haiti Connected Cities » à l’approche du départ d’Haïti d’ Inveneo, prévu pour avril 2012. Inveneo est une organisation non-gouvernementale dont la principale mission est de connecter les plus nécessiteux à Internet, et qui a travaillé en Haïti depuis le tremblement de terre du 12 janvier 2010.

La rencontre a été organisé par Emmanuella Stimphat, PDG de Connet’Em et BATI de Grand-Goâve, et Jerry Joseph, PDG de JigabIT Plus et BATI de Léogane. L’intervention introductive de la réunion a été faite par FJ Cava, Responsable du programme BATI à Inveneo, suite à laquelle Ralph Étienne, PDG de Central Point Inc. et BATI de Mirebalais, a fait un “briefing” du programme.

Chaque BATI à son tour a présenté son “sound byte” sur sa rôle dans leur zone d’activité et sa Petite ou Moyenne Entreprise (P.M.E). Ce fut également l’occasion pour eux de partager leurs expériences aussi bien que communiquer leurs doléances. Ils ont aussi fait le point sur des matieres élucidés par Eyleen Chou et Andrew Dupree, deux bénévoles techniques d’Inveneo.

En outre, des invités de marque, tels que M. Jonas Dumersain et M. Yves-Fils Stimphat ont apporté des conseils d’or et des principes dans différentes disciplines.

Les participants ont aussi mis en place des normes sur comment s’identifier aux clients et aux autres BATI tels que des cartes d’identité et des uniformes, la registration avec la Chambre de Commerce d’Haïti, et un diagramme du conseil de gestion. En somme, la rencontre a occasionné tout un panel de discussions concernant grosso modo l’organisation et le fonctionnement du programme BATI.

A Haitian ICT Success Story: Emmanuella Stimphat

  1. Posted by Inveneo on September 27, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, News
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You may already know Emmanuella Stimphat, who joined our team in Haiti in April. Emmanuella jumped right into the work and in no time at all became the master of our Haiti inventory. She is supporting the rural network roll-out, working with the BATIs and helping with the installation of computer labs in schools.

Now that Microsoft, a supporter of the NetHope Academy Internship program, featured Emmanuella’s story in a video during the Global Microsoft Summit, we figured you should know more about our famous colleague.

Encouraged by her parents and siblings Emmanuella decided to pursue a computer science degree at a top university in her native country, Haiti. Emmanuella’s school, Ecole Supérieure d´Infotronique d´Haïti (ESIH), was totally destroyed in the earthquake in 2010 and the semester abruptly came to an end. To escape the immediate destruction and try to move on, Emmanuella went to stay in Florida, but after a few months returned to Haiti.

Her Masters studies were interrupted by the quake, but another opportunity caught her interest upon her return to Haiti – the NetHope Academy. Emmanuella was one of the few female candidates who were accepted into this coveted program. After graduating from NetHope Academy, she came to the Inveneo team as an IT Technician, where she is an invaluable resource.

Emmanuella joins Jerry Joseph as an Haitian ICT Success Story and we are proud to have her with us.

Our Significant Progress in Building Haiti Back Better

  1. Posted by Inveneo on September 14, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, News
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Inveneo is committed to bringing real economic and education opportunities to Haiti in 2011 through the Haiti Rural Broadband Initiative and related efforts. HRBI is a collaborative program involving Haitian Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Haitian IT entrepreneurs and the many organizations – NGOs and otherwise – that will benefit from access to reliable and affordable broadband Internet. Since its formal launch in January 2011, HRBI continues to make progress in all key program areas.

Our network buildout and infrastructure has rolled out to three rural service areas, Artibonite, Léogâne and Central Plateau, including an 82 km link, our longest yet, and 89 new radios, covering 12 of 22 target communes across the country. This backbone is now fed by three Haitian Internet service providers; Access Haiti, Multilink, and Voila, and is connecting organizations across Haiti already.

The BATI Program has trained 27 BATI entrepreneurs in three provinces, with 39 more in the pipeline, and brought on two new Inveneo Certified ICT Partners (ICIPs), Haiti Telecom Group (HTG) and Transversal. The Haiti Connected Schools (HCS) program completed site surveys at 30 schools with 10 schools identified as the first recipients of ICT interventions, and French content was identified for teachers and students.

We are proud to announce that the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has invested an additional $259,000 into HCS for solar power (panels, batteries, peripheral equipment) and installation from local power experts for the schools. This is a great vote of confidence in our program and our approach.

Accelerating Broadband to the First Mile – an Inveneo White Paper

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 27, 2011 in the categories: News, Publications
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Just 9.6% of the total population in Africa has access to the Internet. This is less than 1/5th and 1/6th of the rate in the Americas and Europe, respectively. But this statistic does not convey the real situation in the world’s poorest countries. Of Africa’s 48 sub-­Saharan countries, 29 (60%) have total Internet usage rates (at any speed) of less than 3%, and 15 (31%) show less than 1%. Broadband access rates are far lower still.

Thus, while wireless broadband has exploded in much of the world, as the ITU’s 2009 report points out, there remains “a dramatic broadband divide, with very few fixed broadband subscribers or mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa.”

Inveneo believes that closing the broadband gap will require new, collaborative and low-cost broadband service delivery models. Moreover, we believe that the essential components of such a model already exist; what’s needed is a well-conceived and coordinated effort to bring them together in a functioning service delivery framework.

In the Accelerating Broadband to the First Mile white paper, Inveneo and our partners are working to define and deploy a novel, locally sustainable wireless broadband delivery model, starting in Haiti.

The Inveneo­-led Haiti Rural Broadband (HRB) initiative is a collaborative program seeking to catalyze sustainable broadband access in underserved parts of Haiti. The program is founded on the idea that dramatic capital and operating cost savings can be realized through the use of ultra-low-cost wireless technologies, an emphasis on building local IT capacity to deploy and support broadband infrastructure and new approaches to cooperative network ownership and management.

HRB’s primary short-term objective is to bring affordable, reliable and sustainable broadband access to 6 regions and 20 currently un-served population centers across Haiti. The longer-term goal is to explore how the HRB model can be replicated in similarly rural and low resource areas across the developing world.

Congratulations to BATI training graduates – 11 new ICT Technicans for Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 13, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, News
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Inveneo recently completed its first BATI training (Bati Anfòmatik Teknisyen yo ak Inveneo) in Mirebalais, Haiti on March 18, 2011. After a week of classroom and hands-on training modules, 11 participants graduated as certified BATI IT technicians.

The Inveneo training is designed to give each BATI a head start in his technology business, and, judging from the feedback of the participants, this first session achieved its goal:

The BATI training had a big impact on the technical interns in helping us get started in the IT markets of Haiti. It helped us perfect our skill by teaching us technology philosophy, its practical usage, and simulations of real-world events. It was also taught in both Creole and French which was greatly appreciated.

One key objective of the BATI program is to address the problem of chronic unemployment among Haiti’s youth through entrepreneurship opportunities. Of the 15 participants who started the BATI training, 11 were unemployed at the time, yet all had graduated high school. Inveneo will continue to train candidates in other provinces of the country, covering 22 communities across six regions.

The BATI program strives to deploy connectivity through an entrepreneurial model that will reach and serve clients (schools, NGOs, enterprises and others) with cost-effective Internet. Each BATI IT technician will work on connectivity and computing support issues with network subscribers, largely nonprofit and community groups throughout Haiti. They will operate as independent consultants, earning revenue from installation and support contracts.

The BATI program is one component of Inveneo’s overall approach in Haiti, which will:

  1. Accelerate deployment of a high speed, broadband wireless network in rural population centers
  2. Train and certify Haitian IT entrepreneurs to deploy, operate and support this network
  3. Develop a sustainable business model of local network ownership and operations for the broadband wireless network,
  4. Deploy new, relevant technology in education to increase ICT knowledge and usage.