"Haiti has a lot of challenges, but we have the opportunity to use creativity to find solutions." -Alex Georges, Co-founder of Enersa
In Haiti I had the pleasure of meeting Alex Georges, co-founder of Enersa. Enersa manufactures solar powered street lights while empowering Haitians through employment. With the limited amount of power and electricity in Haiti, Georges wanted to bring solar power to the Haitian community. Initially Enersa started out as solar powered lamps, but after the limited demand Enersa switched directions. Enersa started manufacturing street lights. The street lights were a huge hit. Kids began reading and studying under the street lights. Georges witnessed the social impact of his company first hand.
Enersa's first group of employees were from Cite Soleil, an incredibly impoverished community in Haiti with a strong gang presence. These original six employees had dropped out of high school, but Georges gave them the opportunity to succeed. Georges and his co-founder trained their employees to manufacter solar powered street lights and be technicians. Since opening Enersa, Georges and his co-founder have provided employment for 41 Haitians. Enersa employees average around $12 a day which is three times more than the Haitian minimum wage. Employees receive certain benefits such as provided meals. Georges has created a positive environment allowing his employees to thrive and succeed. One Enersa employee is currently in school to become an engineer. Geroges has high hopes for Enersa and plans to expand their solar powered lights into other areas in the Caribbean Islands. Georges dreams of developing a new technology that is able to revolutionize the industry. Georges is an incredibly determined entrepreneur who is optimistic about Haiti's future. I am excited to see where Enersa goes.
Georges may look familiar from the popular documentary Poverty Inc. In Poverty Inc, Georges discusses the difficulty of competing with free. After the earthquake in 2010 businesses abroad started sending solar panels over to Haiti. As a local Haitian business, this was a difficult time for Enersa. Sales began decreasing which led to a decrease in employee hours during a time when people desperately needed work to recover financially. Georges raises a good point. As citizens of a developed nation, we need to be careful in the way we approach relief. We tend to donate what we have, but fail to ask those suffering what they need. We address the short term needs rather than considering the consequences our donations could have on a recovering economy. I encourage you all to learn more about Enersa and social impact by watching the documentary Poverty Inc. found on Netflix.