Grass Valley, CA (PressExposure) November 05, 2008 -- A new Internet business is taking on the challenge of helping poverty-stricken Haiti return to her former glory. Haiti, once "the Pearl of the Antilles," is now widely recognized as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The owners of Bon-Bagay.com--"bon bagay" means "itâs a good thing" in Haitian Creole--think that can and should be changed.
They plan to help Haitians create an income stream by marketing their unique brand of folk art to the world. Bon-Bagay.com blends education, ministry, and business to accomplish that goal.
The brains behind the venture are an entrepreneurial trio of mom and two daughters. Noelle Dodd, a college art major, visited Haiti earlier this year with a church group and "came home both inspired and frustrated, feeling nearly powerless to change what I had seen or even to describe it to anyone who had not been there. And what I saw was an eyeblink of what the people of Haiti struggle with every day," she says.
Haiti is seen by the rest of the world as an unstable, uninviting, and non-business-friendly place. Yet it was not always that way; Haiti once actually led the world in coffee and sugar production and made many a French owner of a Haitian plantation the envy of his European friends.
"I knew I had to do something," Noelle says. When she returned home, bearing stories, pictures, and gifts, her mom, copywriter and Internet marketer Lisa J. Lehr, had a "lightbulb moment."
"These people make wonderful things," says Lisa. "They have skills. They have the time, the inspiration, the motivation to do this kind of work. What they might not have are, first, the capital to get started, and, second, a market for their goods."
That's where this new Internet-based venture comes in. As Noelle, her mom, and younger sister Natalie, who also hopes to visit Haiti soon, brainstormed how to fill this gap, http://www.Bon-Bagay.com was born. Their mission statement says, in part, "We are guided by Biblical principles of caring for those in need, as well as business principles of 'teaching a man to fish.'" The Internet, they explain, provides a huge "virtual" marketplace where skilled Haitians can show their goods to the world.
Immediate plans include selling Haiti-themed items designed and created by the owners and Haiti-made artwork bought wholesale from Haitians at prices higher than they're accustomed to receiving from the occasional visitor. Future plans for Bon-Bagay.com may include offering food items and natural cosmetics, and eventually providing micro-loans to those who have skills but need help purchasing equipment and supplies to get their businesses off the ground. Bon-Bagay.com's owners immediately began building a network of people who travel to Haiti or know someone who lives there, to establish a regular supply of saleable Haitian goods.
Visitors to the site can shop or simply learn about Haiti. New content is being added all the time, and readers can fill in their names and e-mail addresses to receive informational messages about Haiti. The owners are in the process of acquiring an inventory of original Haitian artwork. In the meantime, Haiti-themed jewelry, greeting cards, and t-shirts are available.
The web address is http://www.Bon-Bagay.com, and contact information is provided at the site.