Over 70 percent of Haiti’s population lives in poverty. Most communities are at a disadvantage due to obstacles such as difficult terrain, extremely fragmented populations, and lack of infrastructure, which all undermine opportunities for viable economic activity and disconnect populations from most business value chains. The consequence is that products providing essential value like solar lighting and fortified foods either do not reach the intended consumers or are more expensive or lower quality than the standard products that are accessible by other populations. In addition, last-mile distribution is often a key challenge for large corporations in reaching low-income rural and peri-urban communities where a high degree of poverty often exists.
While “last mile” access probably represents the greatest challenge for global economic development, it also represents a significant opportunity for innovators. These communities represent an untapped opportunity to close the market gap and positively improve the livelihoods and empower thousands of entrepreneurs by providing a supply of competitively priced and quality consumer goods, nutritious and affordable food, and essential value added items such as hygienic products and solar lighting for resale into their communities.
In addition, many of the women in these communities are unable to find meaningful employment opportunities, yet women are viewed as key contributors to poverty alleviation strategies, as they are typically more economically underutilized and also more likely to invest their earnings in essential needs for their family, including healthcare and education.
In Haiti, replicating their successful distribution enterprise in Peru, CGEP has piloted their Chakipi model, which builds a commercially viable distribution enterprise that empowers female entrepreneurs to sell highly demanded, yet undersupplied goods in rural and peri-urban communities.
Entrepreneurs sell from a dynamic product basket of approximately 50-60 goods with main product categories including personal and home care, nutritious foods, and pro-poor goods such as solar lamps. Entrepreneurs sell in local markets, door-to-door, or from storefronts in their homes. These products come from commercial partners such as Unilever who provide discounted prices, training for staff, and marketing, as commercial partners benefit from gaining access to a new distribution network. Chakipi Haiti also partners with local community leaders, including its entrepreneurs, to gather data, collect insights into local communities, and verify consumer buying habits to determine the best assortment of products to sell.
The Chakipi entrepreneurs earn commission on all their sales and CGEP targets to double their income within one year. Chakipi Haiti has received support and investment from CGEP and Fundación Carlos Slim in the amounts of $300,000 each, pilot funding from the Clinton Foundation Haiti team in the amount of $160,000, and $165,000 in funding from Unilever to support the enterprise scale-up. As of the end of 2015, the Chakipi Haiti program had trained nearly 900 entrepreneurs in Haiti and secured support and investment from CGEP, Fundación Carlos Slim, and the Clinton Foundation Haiti team to scale their pilot program to a national enterprise.
As of the end of 2016, the enterprise had trained nearly 850 female women, providing them with the tools and products to become entrepreneurs selling food, personal care and home-care products in their low-income communities. By the end of December 2016, nearly 250 female entrepreneurs were actively engaged in Chakipi in various rural and urban areas of Haiti.