Daniella Bien-Aime is not only the editor of The Bienaime Post, but also a think-tank blogger whose focus is on marketing, social media, tech and entrepreneurship. Recently, she’s added author on her list of accomplishments. Her timely book Take Haiti to an Emerging Market Position: 61 Business Ideas Haitians Can Profit With Right Now outlines Haiti’s potential as an up-and-coming market.
A graduate of the prestigious Teachers College, Columbia University, it isn’t surprising that Bien-Aime’s digital discourses on business, social media marketing, and emerging technology are filled with insightful knowledge and keen analysis.
Kreyolicious: Tell us more about your work.
First, I want to thank you for inviting me here to share my story with you and with the Kreyolicious family. I’ve been a fan for several years now. And I want you to know that I love the work you’re doing for Haiti and our community.
As for telling you about myself, sure, I’d be happy to share some of the events in my life that led me to write the eBook. I’ve spent about ten years in the corporate space in several industries. I started working in the financial industry supporting Wall Street bankers in various teams.
From that experience, I then moved on to several management roles within the publishing and healthcare sectors, and to education. I’ve been fortunate to work with some bright and generous individuals. I’ve learned so much from them. I like to think that they have also learned from me, as I often bring my own perspectives to whatever environment I am in.
While I was working and completing my graduate degree, the Haiti earthquake hit. That tragedy gave me an opportunity to use my experience to help change Haiti’s dialogue. Right after the earthquake, as a Haitian I understood what it felt like to go through that experience. I think there was an emotional piece that died with each of us as we watched the amount of devastation unfold in the news.
Kreyolicious: Certainly…and thank you.
In essence, that event forced me to shift my priorities in thinking of a creative way to work on behalf of Haiti. I believe that Haiti will change when we focus on developing the people—and one way to do that is to focus on supporting the country’s entrepreneurs. That sense of priorities has been with me since the earthquake, as I build a platform to elevate Haiti.
Kreyolicious: I see…
Unbeknownst to me, as I was sharing about my work in Haiti on social media, the editor from Haiti Business Week reached out to me on LinkedIn. The initial idea with Haiti Business Week was to do an interview to discuss my experience from my recent trip to Haiti. Halfway through the interview, the editor asked me if I would be willing to write a piece for the magazine.
After giving it some thought, I agreed and from there, the work just took off. I started contributing to The Haitian Times, Caribbean Journal, and most recently Caribbean News Now and other niche Caribbean magazines. Now ,my writing has evolved into a full blog to the point of writing this eBook.
Since I am interested in how business and technology can elevate societies, I decided to use my research skills and knowledge of Haiti to start the blog. Part of my work involved telling these innovation and business stories.
But, I think you do the same thing with Kreyolicious, too. To me, when I first started writing about Haiti, it was my way to give back. I knew my obligations here in the U.S. would not allow me to go back, but I still wanted to create change. Now the blog has evolved into a new media venture.
In hindsight, I realize that every experience is valuable. After I left the publishing industry, I didn’t think I would use some of the skill sets, but I’m currently using them to grow Bien-Aime Post.
Kreyolicious: What led you to write your ebook, Take Haiti to an Emerging Market Position: 61 Business Ideas Haitians Can Profit With Right Now?
The one thing that led me to write the book is that I started to see and study patterns that have not worked in Haiti’s development. And unfortunately, because the systemic aid is ingrained in Haiti, most Haitians adopt the same method regardless of whether that aid has been effective.
They focus on establishing non-profits and NGOs. Not that all non-profits are bad, but there should not be so many that the aid hurts the country’s economy. I often wonder, if Haitians grew up seeing foreigners build businesses, would they follow suit? I am hoping the eBook can provide this dialogue and some practical solutions.
I thought about writing the eBook on these business ideas because the topic is one of the most popular topics with my blog audience. Even the business pieces I’ve written for Haitian Times, I am told, have done well. Based on this feedback, I decided to write a more comprehensive piece than just my shorter blog posts. Also in the book, I purposely highlighted some people that my audience may not have heard about. This was to show how important it is as a community to collaborate with others. It builds trust and a spirit of community. My supporting someone’s remarkable work does not negate the value of my work.
In fact, it’s good to be in the company of people who push you to do your best. We often don’t realize the power of collaboration and trust. Successful ideas are rarely implemented in silos, so I’m learning the importance of taking the time to support others. It’s not easy to show up day after day with the possibility that you might be ridiculed for your passion and convictions.
As you decide to take risks and put your work out there, you’ll find those like-minded peers, where there is a spirit of mutual respect and support with no hidden agenda. Even as a blogger and Haitian contributor to several publications, few people would know my work if I didn’t have the support of others and a willingness to support them, as well.
Kreyolicious: The book is available now. What has been the feedback from your readers regarding it?
You know, it’s interesting. When you create or produce something, you have no idea how others will receive it. I just found this week that the Nassau Guardian newspaper in the Bahamas published my last post about the eBook. I found out through several readers. I was encouraged by the opportunity to reach a larger audience. Yes, the eBook is available, and it’s free, so anyone can register to download it on the site. The feedback has been positive.
I do believe that people have been supportive, based on their social media comments. I’ve received many positive comments.
I’ll share one with you here from a reader on Facebook:
“I am glad someone wrote what I was thinking. The great thing about Haiti is that because it has a lot of problems, it creates an opportunity for a lot different solutions. Haiti has problems that, if viewed in isolation, are simple to solve. But when you look at them as a system, they become complex. As a result, one organism (the government) cannot tackle all these problems simultaneously. The solution is to have many different startups that seek to solve a very specific problem—just pick an industry, then pick a problem within that industry. Then, as a whole they will collectively reduce the complexity of Haiti’s problems”—Richard D Sam
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