Today is International Women’s Day, a day during Women’s History Month to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. Empowerment is one of Hope for Haiti’s core values, and we are proud to share that over half of the team leading and implementing our work is female, including doctors, program managers, directors, and more.
Throughout the month of March, we will be sharing the stories of some of our female leadership and highlighting how their work has helped advance our vision for Haiti: joyful children; healthy families; thriving communities; and the resources to make it so. The first, featuring our Economy Program Manager Christina Baptiste, is below:
Christina Baptiste is Hope for Haiti’s Economy Program Manager, overseeing our loan and grant programs as well as the annual Economy Challenge. Though some may consider investing a male-dominated field, Christina comes from a family of entrepreneurs and strong women and believes she was destined to help provide other women with the economic opportunities to achieve their dreams. She considers her mother and grandmother her two biggest inspirations: “My mother and grandmother inspire me. My grandmother built her own business from the ground up and built what was (at the time) the biggest hotel in the south of Haiti. My mom saw how my grandmother thrived and after completing two master’s degree programs returned to Haiti to give back and build her own business. They strive to be their best selves every day always giving back to the community – something I try to emulate.”
Although Christina spent her first few years of life in Haiti, she moved to the United States while she was still young and was raised mostly in the US. After studying sociology in college and getting her master’s degree in nonprofit management, she left the US in search of real-life experiences to compare to what she learned in the classroom about different cultures and economies. During her time in Africa, she was exposed to social entrepreneurship models and decided to move to Haiti to see if she could find a way to put what she’d learned into action there.
Over the course of her four years at Hope for Haiti, Christina considers last year’s Economy Challenge, the first live-streamed pitch competition for women in Haiti, one of her favorite accomplishments. The 2020 event was designed specifically for female entrepreneurs, with a $10,000 USD grant going to the first place winner. When asked why the event meant so much to her, Christina said: “Haiti has this saying – fanm se poto mitan peyi a, which means women are the backbone of the country. I grew up hearing it and it’s stuck with me all my life. Through the annual Economy Challenge, I have the opportunity to give someone a platform and a voice to try to reach their goals. It meant everything to me to hold a challenge just for female entrepreneurs. I would’ve been heartbroken if we couldn’t do it last year and I’m thrilled we live in a digital society where we were still able to hold it despite COVID-19. I could have never imagined that over 10,000 people would watch the live-stream, and I’m grateful we’re in a time and I’m at an organization that allows me to provide this platform for female entrepreneurs to grow.”
Applications for this year’s Economy Challenge, Enpak Lakay, closed yesterday and the final pitch competition live-stream will take place on April 24th at 11:00am EST on Facebook. You can RSVP to watch it on Facebook by clicking here.