Madame Rose's experience as a small business owner in Gonaives, Haiti . She is giving the customer change after purchasing minutes for his cell phone. (Photo by: Berline Jean-Baptiste/ Berline's Edition)

What is it like to be a business owner in Gonaives, Haiti?


Madame Rose and her husband own a small boutique in Gonaives, Haiti. A boutique in Haiti is equivalent to a corner store in the United States. The couple has owned the business since 2007. Madame Rose is really the brain behind the business; her husband is just there to assist. He is a full-time Professor.

In the city, she sells merchandise that consists of sodas, creams, snacks, and more. The boutique also provides services to their customers by putting minutes on their cell phones. This is essential in Haiti because cell phones are a form of communication since they do not really utilize home phones, a way to go on the Internet, and call outside of the country. Madame Rose is the main store when the people can’t or don’t want to go in the city.

Rose says that she encounters many issues as a business owner. One of the main problems is with security and there is no stability. In the small city, people have to worry about robbers and business is not alway up. A lot of times as a business owner she cannot trust the clients and that is why they always use cash and not credit.

Rose mentioned, “I wish there was better cooperation between the business and the clients.”

As a  business owner, she employs just a few people in her city to help with the business. The boutique has huge storage space. The companies merchandise is shipped from the capital Port-Au-Prince. Port-Au-Prince is about three hours away from Gonaives.

It is an exciting time in Gonaives because the city is trying to rebuild itself from a tragic flooding a couple years back. The poverty in the city doesn’t allow for many upgrades in their business. The inside of the store is filled with dust and bottles. Haiti still uses glass bottles in order to recycle and economically it’s cheaper. This small business owner does not have a cash register and uses cash for every transaction. Madame Rose is fortunate to know the whole town so the customers feel like family and she has the same customers frequently.

God is essential in her life and helps her to run a successful business in one of the poorest countries in the world. He is not taken lightly. She started off with just a dream, selling merchandise on the street for just a dollar. Now, she has a fully operating business.

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