Capacity Building Training Series for SOIL EkoLakay team
As our friends and supporters know, the SOIL team is working to build a sustainable business model for providing household sanitation services in Haiti – our goal is to spin off our service, called EkoLakay, into a privately run Haitian social business. As we work toward achieving that goal, we recognize that we must build the capacity of our team and become even more efficient so that we can continue to increase our impact while reducing our operating costs.
To ensure we are effectively building team capacity, we have partnered with a group called Partners Worldwide to provide a series of trainings to our EkoLakay team. With the help of Brunel, a charismatic Haitian and skilled educator who facilitated the trainings, our team spent a total of three days digging in to the following topics:
- Business acumen (or “business savvy”)
- Marketing tactics
- Strategic decision making about expanding our service areas
Thanks to Brunel the team was able to demystify the process of cost reduction – as a group we reviewed each component of the EkoLakay toilet and discussed how we could try to reduce costs (for example: Are there pieces we can buy in bulk? How can we save money on painting the toilets without compromising branding or quality? Are we certain that we’re buying the most economical supplies?). Thanks to this tactical and action-oriented conversation the EkoLakay team feels excited and able to evaluate every aspect of our service with the same level of scrutiny – we are determined to find cost savings wherever possible while maintaining our high standards and quality of service.
The team (and our Marketing Advisor) was also gratified to learn that our marketing strategy and activities are well in line with the principles Brunel shared during the training. Because EkoLakay is currently only offered in specific neighborhoods and service areas, we focus on event-based and community marketing that specifically targets people living in the communities we serve. Additionally, Brunel and the team discussed the importance of some more general marketing focused on the importance of sanitation – this kind of diffuse strategy helps raise EkoLakay brand recognition more broadly without specifically marketing the service to communities we aren’t able to serve yet.
Following the three days of trainings, the team feels ready to hit the ground and put these new lessons and suggestions into action. At SOIL we feel incredibly lucky to have a team willing to put their all into their work – SOIL teammates never hesitate to work extra hours, work weekends (even when there is serious “blokis” – traffic!), and generally go above and beyond the parameters of their job description in service of SOIL’s mission. Our hope is that investing in trainings like these can help support our team, both in doing our work even better, and in helping maintain a healthy work-life balance. We look forward to sharing updates throughout the year as we continue to focus on capacity building and cost reductions.
And many thanks to Brunel for being such an energetic and inspiring facilitator!