Note: the following is a customer case study. For a short summary of what MEnvesti is, please read our footer at the bottom of any page.
Introducing MEnvesti: One Start-up's Efforts to Champion Remittance Investment in Haiti
MEnvesti's model presents itself as a new innovative infrastructure for both effective remittance investment to development projects in Haiti and job creation for local college students. With the support of small lenders in the Haitian diaspora, MEnvesti seeks to leverage a portion of annual remittance inflows to Haiti to support young entrepreneurs particularly in times of political instability. MEnvesti also uses crowdsourcing strategies to create analyst jobs for college students in Haiti in an effort to reduce joblessness among Haitian youth. Its operations may be summarized as followed: projects from entrepreneurs/borrowers are evaluated by analysts nominated by institutional partners and become available on MEnvesti.com where lenders in the diaspora can lend by buying loan installments of $10 each. Loans issued to the entrepreneur are repaid to each lender's designated beneficiary, i.e. an institution or family member based or living in Haiti. As the foundation for the project, MEnvesti uses an e-commerce site and social media platforms for its operations. With this new solution, the project team aims to facilitate up to $30 million in small loans to businesses in Haiti and create up to 5,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2024.
Responding to the urgent need:
Most recently at the 8th Annual NAAHP Conference at FlU, the US Ambassador in Haiti, Ms. Michele Sison, emphasized on the need for effective investment from the diaspora, rather than simply remittance, in Haiti. Her keynote speech to attending Haitian-American professionals and students was an invitation to innovate and create infrastructures that allow the diaspora community to be more strategic in their money sent to Haiti. To that extent, it aligns with the recently-launched 2020-2040 NAAHP Haiti Forward campaign and concerns from numerous members of the Haitian community over the productivity of the $ 3+ billion remittance market and its long-term economic impact in recipient communities.
Data from local Agencies show remittances are re-routed to DR through the many channels Haitians import goods from the neighbor country. At the same time, it has become very hard for local entrepreneurs with development projects to finance their ventures in part due to risk increase as a result of political instability.
Supporting development projects:
As per MEnvesti's model, a development project is a for-profit initiative that uses local resources. Remittance sent is a person-to-person transaction that usually rules out administrative fees and other middle-man encumbrances beyond the transfer fees. In much the same way, MEnvesti’s remittance investment model creates a direct person-to-business channel, charging only a small 5% participation fee from listed development projects. That fee is both lower than usual lending rates in Haiti and the transfer fees from traditional money transfer organizations. By creating a direct person-to-business channel, MEnvesti aims to elevate remittance to the standards of other money sources such as Development aid and Foreign Direct Investment in the country.
Integrating local technologies:
MEnvesti’s model seeks to integrate and innovate more so than to re-create. At its core are the popular social media platform, WhatsApp, and an e-commerce site. The former is not simply used to facilitate direct communication with its local audience but also to coordinate an easy-to-use online workplace for its crowdsourcing community of analysts. The challenge for any online business in Haiti is to adapt to an audience which at times may not have reliable internet access. MEnvesti integrates the social media platform to create an internal community that values privacy and low-usage of internet data.
For its e-commerce site, MEnvesti uses a cloud-based web development platform to create a mobile-friendly site for its audience in the diaspora. The site also hosts the crowdfunding platform through which lenders in the diaspora can lend in increments of $10 to any listed projects based in Haiti. Lending through the platform is as easy as shopping for a new product online.
Collaborating with local institutions:
The use of traditional networking methods in Haiti is also important to the effectiveness of MEnvesti’s remittance investment model. To that extent, it integrates local institutions in its crowdsourcing strategies; its flagship Project Evaluation and Project Supervision processes, before or after crowdfunding is completed, respectively, are broken into smaller easy tasks executed by analysts. Such institutions, internally referred to as Partners, have the exclusive right to determine which college students may become MEnvesti analysts.
Offering hands-on Benefits to stakeholders:
MEnvesti’s remittance investment model creates monetary incentives for its 6 core actor groups: the entrepreneurs in Haiti, the lenders in the diaspora, and the analysts or college students.
For lenders in the US: MEnvesti provides a $10 digital package that consists of a copy to the borrower’s business plan for the development project, weekly updates on the project, in addition to exclusive savings (lenders do not pay money transfer fees, saving up to $6 on every $10).
For entrepreneurs in Haiti: the entrepreneurs borrow funds through MEnvesti at no interest rate to support their operations in Haiti. They only pay a small 5% participation fee to MEnvesti and its analysts and pay back the loan to the lender's designated beneficiary in Haiti.
For college students in Haiti: College students are hired to become analysts thanks to MEnvesti’s partnership with their respective institutions. An analyst earns $2.5 for every 30 minutes spent in crowdsourcing, either in Project Evaluation or Supervision, and may earn up to $40 a day if committed full-time.
For the beneficiaries in Haiti: Beneficiaries are family members of the lenders and nominated at the time of each purchase on the site. If the lender did not nominate anyone, MEnvesti will elect to nominate a local student organization. Beneficiaries receive loan repayments from borrowers.
For partner institutions in Haiti: Partners nominate potential analysts and nomination rules and conditions are at their discretion.
For MEnvesti: MEnvesti keeps 30 cents on every $10. The 30 cents are included in the participation fee of 5% and used to fund the marketing campaigns (i.e. by the Brand Ambassadors) needed to crowdfund the project.
Planning for future possibilities:
MEnvesti is evolving to reinforce its infrastructure in the remittance industry in Haiti with the use of innovative technologies and by integrating local stakeholders. MEnvesti plans to become an SEC-registered investment company, providing individualized portfolios to lenders where they would have the option to own equity in listed projects and receive real-time updates and financial returns on investment.
About MEnvesti and key persons:
MEnvesti.com is an online crowdfunding platform that facilitates loans from small lenders in the Haitian diaspora to business projects in Haiti. MEnvesti.com is an initiative of Connecticut-based MEnvesti Investment Group LLC, founded in 2017 by Lovens Gjed, an award-winning entrepreneur from Gonaives, Haiti.
Open discussions with MEnvesti's current team started in June 2018 in Montréal, and M. Gjed further studied the company's remittance investment model as part of his senior thesis at Columbia University. MEnvesti.com was officially launched in August 2019 after more than 20 months of research by our team which consisted of young professionals across different disciplines. The following is the exhaustive list of members who worked on the concept: John Peter Adolphe, Lounès Félicin, Lovens Gjed, Jeiel Onel Mézil, Johnny Jean, Daphning Pierre, Nishina Prévilon, and Yvens Rumbold.
MEnvesti.com was created as part of an ongoing effort to leverage remittance to Haiti, creating jobs for local students and providing funding to entrepreneurs in Haiti.
Follow us on social media @menvesti for general updates and subscribe to our page.
"MEnvesti's model presents itself as a new innovative infrastructure for both effective remittance investment to development projects in Haiti and job creation for local college students."
"By creating a direct person-to-business channel, MEnvesti aims to elevate remittance to the standards of other money sources such as Development aid and Foreign Direct Investment in the country."
"MEnvesti plans to become a SEC-registered investment company, providing individualized portfolios to lenders where they would have the option to own equity in listed projects and receive real-tine updates and financial returns on investment."