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After past experiences with rehabilitation work in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, Champlain students Samuel McGuire and Katie Arnoldy were dedicated to providing sustainable aid to Haiti through economic stimulation. Their ideas began with something as simple as a backpack, handcrafted by local Haitian artisans in Port-au-Prince.
Their business model developed into a 'one for more than one' deal. For every backpack sold, one backpack filled with school supplies and a hygiene kit is donated to a child in need. On top of that, a portion of proceeds goes to an education fund, which pays for school development, teacher salaries, student tuition, and school lunches.
Edike Ayiti, Haitian Kreyol for 'Empower and Educate Haiti,' founders McGuire and Arnoldy have just received their first production order of 50 backpacks, to be distributed to those who helped launch this company through their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Their tagline, 'Made in Haiti, for Haiti,' is a sustainable way to give rise to economic stimulation. "There has been an exceptional amount of 'dead aid,'" said McGuire. "People are pumping money into the country, creating a culture of dependency, but nothing is being done."
McGuire's background in media and photography, start-up companies and the fashion industry, combined with academic experiences in marketing at Champlain, have led the duo to create a market for these desirable ethically produced goods, all with an attached benefit.
Talented Haitian craftsmen from Port-au-Prince, Haiti have created the waxed cotton and leather tote bags and backpacks, and their second production round will be made upon their second trip to Haiti May 7. Read about their first trip in March at http://samuelmcguire.com/edike-ayiti-on-the-ground-in-haiti/
Arnoldy, a senior international business major, said her faculty advisor Scott Baker directed them to Kathy Lynn, assistant director of international student services. Lynn introduced Arnoldy and McGuire to Billy St. Louis, a sophomore international business student from Haiti. "I didn't even know we had a student from Haiti. Billy became an integral member of our trip to Haiti in March," said Arnoldy. "He acted as a translator and could relate to the locals on a different level. When he offered guidance to the locals of Port au-Prince, he would introduce an idea to them and they would be more likely to take it into consideration."
"Billy shares our vision that kids are the future," said McGuire. "We need to provide them the opportunity to advance in education and make a difference to bring Haiti out of its current state."
McGuire and Arnoldy have registered for the 2013 Dobson Cup, an entrepreneurial start-up plan competition sponsored by McGill University in Montreal. "Business professor Charlie Nagelschmidt was essential in helping us create a business plan," said McGuire.
"It's great to see a country like Haiti make progress," he continued. In a recent blog post reflecting on the mission of Edike Ayiti, he states that the key to a bright future for Haiti lies in inspiring the future generations to re-take control over their own lives. "The school children we are working with in Port-au-Prince are the poorest of the poor; we've done so much by getting running water in their school, but with the help of fellow business student David Paquette '13, we have created a more extensive plan with various stages."
Upon their arrival in Haiti on May 7, they will deliver 50 full backpacks and hygiene kits to local children, bring additional raw materials to their partner craftsmen to design the next production round of 150 bags, and hope to record more of their trip through streaming media with the help of digital film student Ryan Sheetz '13.
Arnoldy, of Auburn, ME will graduate with a bachelors degree in international business from Champlain College on May 4. McGuire, of Ithica, NY, took a semester off in 2011 to gain professional experience at a start-up in Montreal and pursued fashion in New York and California. He anticipates graduating with a degree in Marketing in December.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/EdikeAyiti for recent updates, photos, and more information
Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and more than 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 381 Colleges: 2017 Edition. Champlain College is featured in the "Fiske Guide to Colleges" for 2017 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Champlain was named one of the “Most Innovative Schools” in the North by the U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 “America’s Best Colleges and #91 in the overall list of “Best Regional Universities in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.