Abner, a 36-year-old entrepreneur from the South of Haiti, is not easily discouraged by challenges. He always has the dream to have his own restaurant. After many efforts and a loan, Abner bought a restaurant and named it: Miracle of Faith. However, on January 2010, the restaurant collapsed during the earthquake. With the help of World Vision, Abner was benefited with a training on entrepreneurship and received $144.00 as a start-up funding. He used that sum to build his new restaurant in Corail.
Due to a very high unemployment rate in Haiti—estimated as more than 70 percent– many people dream of starting their own businesses. In the countryside, many entrepreneurs manage micro or small businesses which struggle to become profitable; often, startups cannot operate beyond one year. Many unsuccessful business owners become confused and are forced to launch another activity or seek formal employment to avoid another risk of failure. But for those who are patient and persistent enough to grow their small businesses, it is always a feat that is very useful for their children and their entire families.
"When I have a dream, I can be as stubborn as a mule,” says Abner. “I won’t let myself be discouraged by the obstacles that may come my way, because I know there is always a solution to any problem,” says Abner.
Abner is from Maniche, a little town close to Les Cayes. He has studied mechanical adjustment in Les Cayes and he came to Port-au-Prince to work in a mechanical repair shop. He still remembers: "After a few months, I quickly realized that I should find something better in order to prosper economically.” With savings from his salary, Abner bought a minivan which he operated as a taxicab for four long years while working in the shop.
However, he never lost hope for pursuing his dream: “My dream was to own a restaurant. I dreamed of it daily”. Luckily, a local business owner who decided to leave the country offered to sell his restaurant and soda store to Abner. He replied: "It’s my dream to have a restaurant, but I don’t have money to buy it now.” Thanks to one of his friends who worked in a credit union and his faith, Abner said: “I got a loan in 3 weeks which helped me to realize my dream in time because I had to pay in a period of 22 days as agreed with the owner”.
"On January 12, in the afternoon, I was in my restaurant with my staff when suddenly everything around me collapsed,”
Abner purchased the businesses and named the restaurant Miracle of Faith. For over two years, he had a lot of customers and good relationships with his suppliers until the sad Tuesday, January 12th, 2010. "On January 12, in the afternoon, I was in my restaurant with my staff when suddenly everything around me collapsed,” sadly expressed Abner. “It was darkness all around me! When I got out from the rubble, I realized that my dream, my achievement, everything had collapsed! However, my fiancée who managed the restaurant with me, my staff and I, we were all saved, thank God.”
After the earthquake, things were very difficult for Abner, as for almost all Haitians. He said that people who knew nothing about his past humiliated him repeatedly. Beyond the bitterness he felt, Abner was grateful to World Vision and other organisations that did their best to help him and his neighbours by supplying food, tents, mattresses, hygiene kits and health care.
In the meantime, Abner was relocated from “Terrain Golf” camp to Corail Cesselesse—the largest planned resettlement for displaced people, located 20 kilometers from Port-au-Prince. "When I arrived at Coral, I really didn’t know what I should do. I was so lost,” he said. “I had only 60 Gourdes in my pocket (approximately $1.50 USD). I lived in a tent and got enough food to survive from World Vision. But, every day, my fiancée and I dreamed of rebuilding the restaurant; because it was the best way to exit the situation of misery we were living in."
Meanwhile, as part of its programme to support the most vulnerable Hatians, World Vision held training sessions of entrepreneurship in Corail, and Abner was selected as a trainee. "It (the training) was really helpful to me,” he said. In addition to the training, World Vision provided each participant with $144 of startup funding, and Abner used the funds to start a new restaurant. “This training and the $144 saved my fiancée (who became his wife) and I," he exclaimed.
A fresh start
When Abner began his restaurant in November 2010, it was covered by tarpaulins and supported by small wooden beams and planks. Despite the modest structure, Abner made it a point to honor the space; the restaurant was clean and inviting so that customers could feel at ease.
In addition to the $144 that he invested, Abner received a second sum of $300. Abner invested this second grant in expanding his restaurant. He purchased plywood, painted board, and other materials which were indispensable for the restaurant. "I can’t thank World Vision enough for the money I received. It allowed me to increase the potential of the restaurant," said Abner.
"I am really touched that World Vision has given me this great opportunity"
Abner kept the same name—Miracle of Faith—for his restaurant; because he believes that his faith in his dream and World Vision’s trust helped him obtain a successful restaurant in the area which helps him take care of himself and his family. "Thanks to World Vision which, after testing the food quality offered by the restaurant, agreed to submit catering contracts to me when there are some community activities in the area.
Thanks to World Vision, several other organizations contacted me and asked me to offer my services. I am really touched that World Vision has given me this great opportunity for the restaurant."
Abner is quite satisfied with his achievement: "My restaurant was truly welcomed by the community living in Corail, because many people were obliged to move to Bon Repos (about 5 km away from Corail). Now, they don’t need to move out. Many customers prefer to eat in a quiet place where they can sit. In fact, people come from many other areas like Bon Repos or Lilavois to buy their food here."
While they were working hard to maintain the growth of the restaurant, Abner and Mica (his wife) had a baby, whom they named Abens, in 2011. Proud of his wife and his baby—now 18 months—Abner explained how he is glad to have his wife by his side to manage the restaurant, which is their main source of income.
"My wife is the real restaurant manager,” he said. “I only help, but she’s the one who decide the menus, expenses and purchases, improvements and others. Now, I deal mainly with the logistics. I'm glad she shared all of my dreams regarding the restaurant. We can take good care of our smart baby son with income from the restaurant."
Mica, Abner’s wife, is rather shy; but she speaks about her commitment to support her husband and the restaurant, which belongs to them both for the sake of their baby. “I get up early every morning, because we work on Sundays too. I go to the big market of downtown Port-au-Prince. I buy everything that will be needed for the food depending on the menus planned. It’s hard to do, but it’s worth it; and Abner is there to encourage me. I work with 2 employees who help me to prepare the meals in time for our customers.”
Able to realize their dreams for their son
Regarding her son, Mica thinks having a child to raise is a very good reason for her to expand the restaurant. All medical expenses, food, clothing, and dreams that Abner and her hope to realize for Abens are possible only due to their income from the restaurant.
"I thank God for allowing us to have the restaurant, and I thank World Vision for the $144.00 because it was the first sum for our investment. For the moment, we can’t afford luxury to our son, but Abner and I feed him normally. When Abens is sick, the money we get from the restaurant allows us to take him to the doctor. When he gets old enough to go to school, we are sure that we will be able to face the expenses; because God will help us with the restaurant.”
Furthermore, Abner has a major expansion project for his restaurant.
After God, World Vision was the first sponsor of my restaurant
“Currently, this is not yet the restaurant I dreamed of; because I want to have the largest, most beautiful, best restaurant in the area that will offer various services such as catering for wedding receptions, a dancehall for young people, a lounge for VIPs, a conference room for organizations, etc. The sky is my limit,” he said with a smile. “For now, I'm really happy with what I have, because I can take care of my family. I recognize that, after God, World Vision was the first sponsor of my restaurant with the $144 it gave me."
Surely, as Abner, there are a lot of young people in Haiti with big dreams and high hopes. There are certainly many who, like Abner, had a better tomorrow because they received help from World Vision, thereby allowing them with the opportunity to realize their dreams. World Vision will continue its efforts to make these young people realize their dreams and benefit all of Haiti.