My name is Jean Noel. I am the cofounder of ENERSA. My partner and I, Alex Georges, we started in my garage six, seven years ago, making small experiments with the solar panels.
This is the raw material. We work them to become actual street lights, solar street lights.
We wanted to be part of something special, and because both of us grew up in Haiti, so we know what the situation is. We have plenty of sunshine, so is there a way that you can harvest energy from the sun and to resolve the energy problem? So this is something that is completely different, and it was something completely new. At the beginning almost everybody thought, “Those guys are really crazy. They don’t have nothing to do? Spending their time making some experiment on solar panels and LED light bulbs?”
And even now we come with the product and say, “This is Haitian-made product,” most people they don’t believe us.
At the beginning, having $500 contract was great news, because we had money for next week. This is the way we started. Now we have like big contract and we have 62 employees right now, so we think we found the right track.
Most of the employees we have come from shanty towns. Some from Cite Soleil, some from Maissade, Cite Castro, you know very populated area. We train them here. There is no social security network in Haiti, so for our workers, we are the social security network. If they were not working, probably some of them would be gang members.
In fact, when we were starting ENERSA, the situation was really, really bad in Haiti, and some of the guys, they are trying to recruit them to be gang members. They offer you $500 and a gun, and you are an unemployed guy, you have no future, so you don’t see yourself a part of nothing, so it’s easy to accept this offer. The temptation is high.
Some of the guys—at the beginning we were really smart and they were calling me and saying, “I have no money. I have nothing.” I would say, “Don’t go there. Don’t go there, because you have no future in the gang.”
We have installed 200 lights in Cite Soleil. They know that ENERSA is hiring people from Cite Soleil, and brought the light to Cite Soleil. When you do something, you can see the impact on the population and you can say, “This is because of me.”
Working for Enersa is great. It has played a significant role in my life. I’ve accomplished a great deal with this job, I’ve been able to pay my housing bills, that’s how I make my living, my child’s school tuition money comes from that, and everything. I’m happy to be a part of Enersa because I feel that this is where I belong.
I have strong ties to this community. I’m very familiar with the people here. We’ve known each other for the past 28 years. We’ve spent a lot of time together. We all love each other. They’re all familiar with what I do. They approve of my work. They also love Enersa.
I’ve told the director that my dream is to see my two children do even better than I’ve done in life myself. First, complete high school, then go to a university for their studies and I’ll be proud to see the fruits of my labor with Enersa knowing that I was able to take good care of my children, and happy to see them succeed in life.