My face was literally twitching. Almost like a weird spasm. I can't remember the last time I was this nervous. A few months prior to this moment I was notified by the Digicel Entrepreneur of the Year committee that I was nominated to apply for their 2017 Entrepreneurs of the Year Award. Digicel is the largest cell phone/internet provider in Haiti and is known around the world for quickly reestablishing communication in times of disaster. Their foundation celebrates the growth and sustainability of Haiti.
Entrepreneur of the Year..... in a country that is not my birthplace. My heart nearly exploded.
After 600 applications from businesses around Haiti were submitted for this honor, 50 were selected as finalists. 10 finalists in 5 different categories. We received the news last week that deux mains was selected as one of the 10 finalist in the Industry Category. We were at this ceremony celebrating each of these 50 businesses. As well as finding out which of us would make it to the next round.
We were selected!
As Jolina and I walked on stage to receive our trophy the twitching would not stop.
I could not help but think about how grateful I am that I started a business in a country that accepted me as a foreigner. That the achievements of me and my colleagues had nothing to do with our birth rights, only our desire to make the world a better place with employment.
Make families stronger.
Make communities healthier.
As the afternoon continued, four other names are called in our category. I realize quickly that Jolina and I are sharing the stage with 4 of the most beautiful faces I can imagine. My friends and colleagues who are using Haitian culinary (Myabel), Haitian horn (Atelier Calla), and artisan recycling (Second Story Goods), to make a social and environmental impact in Haiti. This was a beautiful moment.
Quickly the room bursts into loud applause. Cameras flashing left and right.
At first I was unsure what was happening. And then the announcement is made.
The first time in the history of the Digicel Entrepreneur of the Year, that a winning category is entirely WOMEN! Women entrepreneurs in Haiti. Women I have had the honor to walk alongside on this journey. Women with an unprecedented fire to not accept the status quo.
Over the next few weeks, as the Digicel Entrepreneur of the Year Award committee makes their decision on who the final winner will be. Keep connected on our social media to find out more about my fellow finalist and the businesses they have built in Haiti.