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Valentin Abe and his Caribbean Harvest – Story of one of the most influential entrepreneurs

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Valentin Abe was brought up in Côte d’Ivoire (popularly known as ‘Ivory Coast) and did not arrive at Haiti until the year 1997. Being associated with the Rotary International project he turned up at Haiti in search of prospective fish-harvesting sites. The originally six-months contract gradually extended to two years and presently Abe has been staying at Haiti since the past fifteen years. What exactly lengthened his stay? For fifteen long years Abe has been providing Haitian farmers with fish and teaching them the exact method of augmenting the quantity of fish manifolds.

It was in the year 2005 when Abe established the Caribbean Harvest. This is an NGO that creates fish-farmers out of simple small-scale farmers. The fish farming is practiced in the Lake Azuei, which is located near the Dominican Republic border and in the Haiti’s Central Plateau. Caribbean Harvest volunteers in collecting donations to cater to the farmer’s immediate needs for starting fish farming. The amount from the donation helps in buying cages, fingerlings and feed. As soon as the farmers harvest the first time, they can financially support their ventures themselves. Seeing the efforts in multiplying the number of fish in this typical fish farming Clinton Foundation aided with $250,000 and funded the organization to further extend their support to each of the farmers. Digicel has named Abe to be one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Haiti. TIME’s recognized him as one of the most influential people of the world.

Abe states that the present land and property rights are not in the best shape. In Haiti, these legal claims to property are biased towards those who have access to various titles and power that are obtained using lawyers, surveyors and notaries. The legal system is slow and incapable to solve vigorous land issues. He finds it difficult to expand the agriculture outside reservoirs and create fishponds due to the arising land troubles. However, he still plans to start a processing plant in the near future.

Overall the journey has been extremely rewarding and in spite of many barriers faced by Valentin Abe he did not give up and continued with the good deeds. There is no surprise in how profitable this sort of farming became eventually. As per the Miami Herald the fish sold in the markets by the farmers weigh about 12 to 16 ounces. The sale brings $2.40 per pound of Tilapia. After calculating the expenses there are 80 cents left for families and the community.

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Upon proper surveillance, one can find out that many villages in Haiti have bought their water drums for rain harvesting or the village’s only latrine from the money made in Tilapia farming. Also school buildings have been set up in the villages and scholarships are being provided to the students. Abe affirms that the only way of offering help to the Haitian people is to give them employment and not donations. Creating jobs for the citizens would improve every aspect of their community including health, education as well as the entire environment.

The saying goes, do not give fish to a man instead teach him to catch it. However, Valentin Abe did something even better. He gave a fish to the villagers and taught them to multiply it- the true brilliance of an entrepreneur.

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