Earlier this week we taught 14 Haitian small business owners how to use social media to share their products and I was reminded that you’re only as productive as the speed of your wifi. Members of the Artisan Business Network came to Port-au-Prince from various locations around the capital city. The group had varying levels of expertise. There were complete beginners who needed assistance setting up an email account or establishing a company Facebook page and artisans who were familiar with the social media world and wondered how to increase likes on their Facebook page to better market themselves. It was a diverse group but all traveled great distances to learn from us and were excited about the little kernels of knowledge we provided.
Experienced photographer, Deana Jirak, provided a fabulous session for the entire group with tips on taking pictures that applied to point and shoots, DSLRs, and cell phone cameras. Most of the attendees take photos with their phones but tips such as avoiding the use of flash and using two hands to stay as still as possible when you’re taking the shot helps minimize movement.
To provide the most effective instruction for learners, it’s important to assess their knowledge ahead of time to maximize their learning. Due to the diverse experience of the group, we asked them to share any successes and challenges related to technology before breaking into small groups.
I had the opportunity to work with three members of Dam Dam who had traveled to Port-au-Prince from Leogane, a small town only 18 miles from the capital city but takes over an hour one way. Dam Dam makes paper maché and jewelry out of flattened bottle caps and were our inspiration for our return trip but needed assistance setting up a new Gmail and Facebook page.
While we were successful in establishing an email account and a new business page on Facebook, I left the training feeling a little frustrated that the slow wifi hampered more progress. I would have liked to show them how to use email and how to upload photos and content to their Facebook page but we ran out of time together. I know it was important to not overwhelm them with too much new information but I would have liked to accomplished a little more.
Regardless of the slow wifi and the progress we were able to make during our time together, I loved playing Oprah and sending Dam Dam home with a laptop thanks to Microsoft. They were excited to receive a beautiful Microsoft Windows 17” Dell Inspiron with Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010, the best suite of software to meet their needs especially given the continued infrastructure related challenges of consistent electricity and lack of wifi in the country.
The two other laptops were given to Rony at Les Palmier Studio in Croix des Bouquets who was so excited to get a computer for a new office space he created since my visit last year. The third laptop was given to The Artisan Business Network (ABN) to support office infrastructure as they provide continuous communication to artists around the country as they work to produce items for local stores as well as those sold by Macy’s Heart of Haiti, West Elm, Anthropologie, and other national stores. I also had a fourth netbook that was donated by a neighbor that will also benefit another artist group that is part of ABN.
Huge thanks to Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office for their incredible donation. The new technology I was able to take and share thanks to Microsoft’s donation meant the world to these artisans. Haitians don’t want handouts. They’re committed to working, learning, and training others in their craft in order to create a sustainable employment that leads to improved lives of workers and their families.
Learn more about Microsoft 365 Home Premium and visit your nearest Microsoft retail store for products and accessories. Also congratulations to Microsoft on the news that the new Office is officially the best-selling edition yet, with more than one sold every second since it launched! Amazing!
I received grant money from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) and a scholarship from Everywhere to help defray the cost of this trip however, all additional expenses are personally paid for. I receive product samples for my involvement as a Windows Champion and am compensated for my work as a Windows Office Ambassador. All opinions are based on my experiences.