Annually, the Haitian diaspora remit home some $3 billion. The money the diaspora sends home constitutes some 20% of Haiti’s GDP yet the diasporan community remains underserved.
Following the 2010 earthquake, Rudy Rocourt returned to Haiti to head Citibank Haiti’s Treasury department and that was when he realized the incredible impact of Diaspora remittances on the Haitian economy.
This led him to start Jetli Transfer, an e-commerce business that enables the Haitian Diaspora to send goods and services to their loved ones in Haiti. His business hopes to be the “Amazon of the Caribbean.”
“We wanted to build a platform that allows the diaspora to gain greater control of their purchasing power, and connect them with local businesses, farmers and entrepreneurs. We want to provide excellent customers and building trust within the community,” he told Lunionsuite.
The e-commerce services provide “affordable products and packages ranging from food, beverages, electronics, and appliances,” per Lunionsuite. The platform added that Jetli connects the Diaspora to local businesses, farmers, and importers in Haiti.
Rocourt did not raise any funding for his venture when he began. He indicated in 2019 that he was bootstrapping and reinvesting the profits into the business. For the Haitian-American entrepreneur, growing organically and providing excellent customer service to customers is of utmost importance. Nonetheless, he has not shut the door to seeking outside investors.
According to him, Jetli is based on three pillars — low price, excellent customer service, and trust. “We believe if the roots of our foundation are strong, our customers will remain loyal to us and identify Jetli as the premier platform for any on-demand products back home in Haiti,” he noted.
The credibility of his business hinges on the fact that Jetli delivers within 48 hours or less. He also revealed recently that he was building a strong logistics and supply chain management team in Haiti along with an excellent customer service team in case anything happens to go wrong.
Despite achieving relative success, Rocourt said building a startup in two countries is not easy. He noted that Haiti’s political crisis has been his toughest challenge. Nonetheless, his biggest strength has been resilience.
For diasporans looking to invest in Haiti, Rocourt’s advice is that they should exercise patience and think big but act small. Most importantly, he wants potential investors to learn how the country operates and know when to accelerate growth or apply the breaks.