Festival Unites Haitian Women Professionals and Entrepreneurs Across The Diaspora

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by Castelline Tilus, Founder of Ayiti Analytics and #SHE_BUILDS Chapter Deputy for Washington D.C.

On August 3, 2019, #SHE_BUILDS Ambassadors, Deputies, Matriarchs, and invited guests convened in Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince to attend the inaugural #SHE_BUILDS_THE FUTURE Festival. This event in all of its grandeur brought together women with various professional and educational backgrounds to contemplate building and transforming the nation. As an attendee, I was moved and humbled to share space with such incredible female builders.

Founded in 2018 by award-winning Haitian-American entrepreneur, Shaïna Silva, the #SHE_BUILDS Global Initiative platform exists to connect women to global opportunities and value chains. Since its founding, #SHE_BUILDS has grown to encompass 20 city chapters across 4 continents. From New York City, to Abidjan, to Montreal, #SHE_BUILDS representatives have organized quarterly events in their respective cities, culminating in the inaugural #SHE_BUILDS_THE FUTURE Festival that struck Port-au-Prince by storm.

#SHE_BUILDS_THE FUTURE Festival Panel on Grooming the Next Generation of Creators.

The day-long Festival included a series of lightning talks, panels and keynote speeches, all themed around the constructs of building a nation, branding a nation and transforming a nation. Former Prime Minister of Haiti, Michelle Pierre Louis, delivered the opening keynote, transporting us to South Africa and returning to Haiti, urging us all to think deeply about the past and to transcend historical traumas. #SHE_BUILDS Legacy Matriarchs, Danielle Saint Lot and Maryse P. Kedar then set the stage for an afternoon and evening of contemplation.

How do you revolutionize Haiti’s agricultural sector? Incorporate technology, urged Genevieve Leveille, CEO and Principal Founder of AgriLedger, a blockchain company that seeks to increase transparency in agricultural supply chains. How do you rebrand a nation? You learn to love what is authentic and indigenous to a place, urged the founder of Pascale Theard Creations when speaking about her use of voodoo symbolism in her artwork. The speakers were numerous and the conversations incredibly rich.

Former Prime Minister, Michelle Pierre Louis delivering keynote.

What was perhaps the most moving statement of all, was a final call to build solidarity and to establish partnerships in our efforts to build the nation. “When we build collectively, there is nothing that can stop us,” were words echoed by the exceptional Haitian women (and men) who graced the stage.

The energy in the room was palpable, as the majority of attendees were young professionals, college students, and entrepreneurs. As an attendee and #SHE_BUILDS Chapter Deputy for Washington D.C., I had the privilege of connecting with a number of incredible people. There are rarely such opportunities to dialogue this meaningfully in Haiti across industry and class lines, and the #SHE_BUILDS_THE FUTURE Festival has filled that void.

I look forward to attending next year, and I would encourage all to mark their calendars for the 2nd Annual Future Festival in Haiti from July 29 to August 1, 2020. Click here to learn more about the topics and speakers from the 2019 Festival.

To build with us and to join the movement, find a #SHE_BUILDS Chapter in a city near you. If your city is not listed, submit a request to bring #SHE_BUILDS to your city!

#SHE_BUILDS_THE FUTURE Festival Wakanda Wonder Women Welcome Cocktail (more pictures below)

Marcia Roseme, Creative Director at Tribes of Joseph, and #SHE_BUILDS New York Chapter Deputy; Rachel Hislop, Editor in Chief at OkayAfrica; Eden Zeilo, Head of Operations at Black Tech Women

Photobooth Powered by Fotokonbit: Wakanda Wonder Women Welcome Cocktail

Castelline Tilus, #SHE_BUILDS Chapter Deputy for Washington D.C.

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