Training Haitians to Compete in the Global Economy: An Interview with Mark Goeser
Mark Goeser makes his way through the crowded streets of Port au Prince, the capital of the proud yet poverty-stricken Caribbean nation of Haiti. In a country where 2.5 million people live on less than $1.23 a day, Mark has come with no intention to hand out aid. He is here to support dreams.
One of those dreams belongs to a young man named Evans. “Evans was born in a rural area of Haiti into a large family,” says Mark. “His father is a poor sustenance farmer and his mother is disabled. Given these circumstances, Evans had three choices in life: be sold into slavery, join a gang and sell drugs, or die poor. I thought, what if my own kids had to make that decision? I’m here to give Evans and other Haitians a chance to hope for something better.”
Evans is part of a Hope Ventures project that trains student entrepreneurs in web coding and development. The students gain highly marketable skills, and after the program they continue to receive online support and mentorship. Several have already received jobs as coders even before they have graduated. Mark explains the significance of this training, “The beauty of this work is that our students are not locked into the Haitian economy. They can find global opportunities to use their skills and yet remain right here.”
The beauty of this work is that our students are not locked into the Haitian economy. They can find global opportunities to use their skills and yet remain right here.
So, what is Evans’ dream? “I want to get so good at this that I can start my own technology company and go back to my hometown, train others, and change the local economy,” says Evans. It’s this kind of full-circle impact that inspires Mark and the Hope Ventures team to do what they do.
The Haitian project that Evans is a part of is just one of many initiatives that Hope Ventures has helped birth through the aspirations of their clients. Mark explains their unusual approach: “Other organizations ask you to fund their dream, but we invite you into your own dream. It’s significant to be able to steward what lives inside you in a way that actually brings lasting change and transformation to others.”
Hope Ventures helps highly motivated people give life to their dreams in three primary ways:
- Entrepreneur roundtables – A group of a half dozen entrepreneurs who want to exchange learning around critical issues that will help them move forward in their personal and professional lives. These communities help entrepreneurs learn how to navigate the daunting challenges of creating a new business. Business owners are supported so they can make a difference not only in the success and growth of their business, but in their capacity to have a meaningful impact in the communities they serve.
- Dream workshops – A half-day workshop that helps students explore key life experiences to better understand how they have been shaped and prepared for specific dreams that bring profound good. Participants have the opportunity to increase self-awareness and better recognize the unique opportunities they’ve been given for impact. The goal is to gain a deeper appreciation and recognition of their God-given dreams for their next season of life.
- Hope Path – Coaching that helps participants walk through their dream from inception to launch. Helps clarify the dream, define growth, develop an action plan, and grow a relational base with mentors and practitioners that will launch the initiative.
To help further the Hope Ventures mission, a new effort is taking shape near Mark’s home in Southern California. He explains, “We are building entrepreneur incubators for impoverished communities. These incubators will support refugees, and others, who have tremendous drive and a desire to not only make a difference for their families, but for their whole community.”
We are building entrepreneur incubators for impoverished communities. These incubators will support refugees, and others, who have tremendous drive and a desire to not only make a difference for their families, but for their whole community.
Mark believes that the Hope Ventures approach is important to creating positive sustainable change. He says, “Too many well-meaning charities are contributing to systemic problems in poor communities here and abroad. Riding in on a white horse to the rescue actually disempowers and takes dignity from the people we are trying to help. We see more value in equipping people to make their own impact which empowers them and extends dignity.”
Too many well-meaning charities are contributing to systemic problems in poor communities here and abroad.
If other nonprofits follow suit, maybe the future will have more people who are the hero of their own story, and life-changing dreams will never die on the shelf.
Contact Mark Goeser with Hope Ventures directly using the form below…