WILSONOR Jean worked as chief financial officer at a block-manufacturing plant in Gonaives for several years until it closed its doors in 2002 as a result of personal difficulties facing the owner and his family.
That closure left a big gap in the local market for construction companies, and knowing that the finances of the business had been basically sound, Jean decided the following year to try to make a go of the enterprise on his own.
It was then that Jean realized the difference between being an owner and being an employee. Building the business was slow, difficult and expensive. Jerusalem Blocks suffered severe flood damage when Hurricane Jean struck in 2004 and Jean’s future as an entrepreneur looked decidedly dicey.
Help was at hand, however. Partners Worldwide, the international organization committed to business as a way of creating a world without poverty, visited Gonaives, heard about his difficulties, and gave him a loan of $28,000 USD which revived the company.
Today, Jerusalem Blocks has a workforce of 32 and produces 54,000 blocks a week. And although there is stiff competition in the market, Jean believes he can win out through a combination of a quality product and a competitive price.
Over the next few years, he plans to modernize the plant, and says he believes he can increase capacity by as much as 500 percent.