All through his childhood years, even before he went to Port-au-Prince and the Dominican Republic to study civil engineering, Blondo Odivin was known by his friends as “the engineer” – because he was always tinkering, or on the lookout for something to repair.
His route into business was anything but direct. At 15, his father set him up selling second-hand cars and that give him a taste for a deal. He opened a restaurant at one point, before taking a job with a building company. And from then on he was bitten by bug, opening VAKO Construction in 2010.
This was no shoestring start-up. With a loan he had received, he had the funds to develop the business quickly, concentrating first on the south-east and building an impressive portfolio of work – before widening his reach to deliver significant projects right across the country.
Today, VAKO Construction has a workforce of 150, from engineers and supervisors to truck drivers and building technicians. Among his favourite projects is the Odivin Hotel in Gonaïves; it has a pool, 14 bungalows, and 20 more under construction. He’s worked with Estrella to build roads, sidewalks and canals, with the UN agency, MINUSTAH, to build 15 kiosks, and his most important project at the moment is a police station in Saint-Michel.
His aim, says Odivin, is to become the reference for construction in Haiti – simple as that.