Shannon Smith 19 December 2014

Meet SOIL's new EkoLakay Project Coordinator

I started out my interview with SOIL’s newest team member, Claudel Mombeuil, with the wrong question: “So, what do you like to do in your free time?” While Claudel is a very fun and gregarious person, “free time” is not a phrase that accurately describes any part of his day. When he’s not busy with SOIL, he’s working on two separate online international project management certificates, putting in around 400 hours of study time before the tests.

Claudel was born and raised in Petionville, a neighborhood on the hills of Port-au-Prince. After receiving his Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a diploma of Project Management in Haiti, he moved to Taiwan for three years to get his Master of Business Administration and to work as a District Manager for a Taiwanese company. He learned to speak Mandarin in his time in Taiwan. Aside from that, he speaks Creole, French, English, Portuguese, Spanish and some German.

I asked Claudel what keeps him working so hard, learning seven languages and taking two courses while working full time for a demanding organization. He said, “I have had to start my own legacy because I didn’t grow up with one to follow.” This man’s got drive.

We’re all excited about what Claudel has already brought to the table, and we are thrilled to have him on our team, in large part because of his keen interest in social business models in the context of Haiti. In a conversation about corporate social responsibility (CSR), Claudel was asked how he would advise Digicel’s (Haiti’s number one mobile service provider) CSR department. “Invest in I.T.,” he said without hesitation. “That way Digicel would be investing in a local population that can work for them and is more eager to use their products and services. CSR should be a win-win for the company and society, not a few one-off donations that have nothing to do with the company’s goals. That’s not sustainable.”

This is the kind of thinking that we want to bring into our own social business model for selling EkoLakay household toilets in Haiti. We want it to be a business that provides sustainable livelihood- a win for local entrepreneurs- and work that contributes to solving both the public health and agricultural crisis by turning dangerous waste into productive compost. Win-win.

I concluded the interview with Claudel by asking if it had been hard for him to leave Haiti to go to Taiwan, begin to love Taiwan, and then come back to Haiti. He replied that he finds no trouble in adapting to new environments and loves the opportunity to learn new lessons from the changes in his life. “Si’m gen dlo, gen moun, gen manje, mwen santi m konfotab” (“If I have water, people, food, then I’m comfortable”). But don’t take Claudel’s adaptability and easygoing nature to mean that he is easily satisfied. I have a feeling that he won’t be stopped until SOIL EkoLakay household toilets are flying off the shelves. And after that, maybe he’ll tackle the whole economy of Haiti.

Piti piti, Claudel. Welcome to the SOIL fam.

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