Myrtha Vilbon was born into a family of entrepreneurs. When she began to help out in her father’s candy factory at the age of just seven, it was clear to everyone – including young Myrtha herself – that she had inherited their drive, ambition and love of success.
Once in business, Vilbon specialized in building food distribution networks for several well-known overseas brands. She did that successfully for 17 years. But over that time the market changed around her. So in 2015 she decided to change tack too – and build a thriving business for herself.
The result was Glory Industries, Haiti’s only toilet paper manufacturer. With 80 percent of the country living on less than a dollar a day, research showed that 40 percent of consumers couldn’t afford such a luxury. Using it more widely will improve hygiene and reduce germ-related illness.
Access to credit is always a challenge in Haiti, and even more so for female entrepreneurs. However, Vilbon raised the $2.4 million she needed, and today she employs more than 100 staff, 70 percent of whom are women, three out of four of whom work in senior management. The aim is to produce quality cheaply, replacing imported competitors.
This summer, Vilbon was one of only four Haitian entrepreneurs to take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Palo Alto, California, attended by President Obama – looking at the challenges facing indigenous companies in countries with “difficult business settings”.