Bertrand Martin, the Haiti-based entrepreneur behind the Haiti directory listing site Manman Pemba (ManManPemba), has a lot of work on his hands. It was quite a mammoth task to bring all of Haiti’s businesses on one platform. But it’s a challenge that he gladly took, and as a result, he now has the distinction of having what most consider one of the biggest Haitian business listing sites.
Kreyolicious: What are some of the best and most exciting things that have happened to you since you launched your brand?
In 2011: a month after the launch of www.manmanpemba.com, the very first customer who contacted me to be featured: La Réserve. It was a confirmation that the idea was relevant. I am so grateful to La Réserve, who remains a customer of ManManPemba since then!
In 2012: I got a call from Yvanka Jolicoeur, who became the Mayor of Pétion-Ville after, but at that time she was an advisor to Stéphanie Villedrouin. She wanted to meet the person behind ManManPemba, and the week after I got an offer to join the Cabinet to work for the Ministry of Tourism! It was a part-time contract, a great experience, an honor, but after a while, I decided to go back fully to ManManPemba.
Kreyolicious: Three to five…
In December 2013: the launch of the ManManPemba app, on the App Store and the Google Play Store. I remember the calls placed to my customers to announce it, and the excitement of the posts on Instagram to let people know about the app! A great memory, after so much work, sketches, coding, test, trial and errors.
In January 2016 : the very first PembaCraft video I made! Check out #PembaCraft on Instagram to see what I am talking about. It was an idea that came out to create digital content, using papercraft for short video animation, to stay original. It is well associated with the ManManPemba brand and if I could, I would make much more of those !
In December 2016, the successful launch of a sister app of ManManPemba, called HaitiGift ! A seasonal app, where people can find inspiration from hundreds of gifts available at local businesses.
As every true entrepreneur, I have lots of ideas, new projects, and for ManManPemba, I believe the best is what’s coming!
Kreyolicious: What would you do differently if you launched this year?
It is hard to reply cause the tech world and digital sector have evolved so much in Haiti. However, I wish online payment would be more developed by now in Haiti – that could change a few things – but the sad reality is, it hasn’t a bit. No matter what and when you launch though, you need to work real hard, test, debug, restart, make realistic plans. Decide to launch a full time venture in the tech and digital word, in the private sector, in Haiti, is no joke!
Kreyolicious: Do your parents support your ventures?
My parents have always been supportive of all I undertook in my life! I am grateful for that. They are even registered to the MMPB Weekly – the weekly newsletter of ManManPemba sent every Wednesday – and quite often discuss about that, about new places or exhibitions that we mention in there.
Kreyolicious: Of the classes you took in school, which proved to be the most beneficial to running your business?
I did not study business or management at all! I graduated from Sciences-Po Paris, with a major in Public Affairs and Urban Studies. I love politics and architecture ! However Sciences-Po is a great school, with a very solid generalist background. I believe it helped me to keep it real, for the good conduct of my company. But it takes a lot of pragmatism and continuous learning to run a business anyway.
One anecdote I like to share regarding my current situation as a tech entrepreneur and Sciences-Po Paris. When I came back from my year of study abroad at Boston University, Sciences-Po had totally changed their curriculum and students could now choose some classes outside of their core major. It was in 2001 and I came back from Boston where Napster was on every PCs in the dorms. I was amazed by those new opportunities offered by Internet. So at Sciences-Po I wanted so bad to follow this new class on start-ups and the “new economy” – as it was called at that time. There was not enough students who signed up, so the class did not open. I imagine that nowadays in Sciences-Po that would be part of the core curriculum ! And now, here I am, running my startup in Port-au-Prince!
This concludes the interview with the founder of Haiti business directory site Manman Pemba (ManmanPemba). CLICK HERE if you missed PART I.
CLICK HERE to visit Haiti business directory site MANMAN PEMBA.