No Need for a Jobs Bill, We Create our Own

Newsletter issue: 
December 2011
News item date: 
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Jon Kennedy (Director of the OEA)

LCS '96 graduate Salomon Asmath (left) returned from his position at the United Nations to lead a team of trained tailors and designers to branch off a new business based from LCS' Rag-A-Muffin program.

The graduates of LCS are an eclectic group, with skills and professions that spread across Haiti. Among the 346 alumni, Salomon Asmath (LCS ‘96) is one of the most experienced. He has worked for many private companies and through them, Salomon received substantial training in industrial production.  As noted in our June 2009 newsletter, his experiences include an employer-funded training program in El Salvador as a production engineer. Despite his success and positive experiences in the private sector, Salomon began working for the United Nations Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, in 2008. The MINUSTAH position did not require any of the production engineering skills that Salomon had obtained in his trainings, but the job did provide stability and a steady income. 

In early 2011, Deacon Patrick Moynihan approached Salomon with a unique, albeit potentially risky, proposal.  Deacon Moynihan argued that Salomon’s time would be better spent working with a company in the private sector and adding to the economy of Haiti by “producing.” He invited Salomon to join forces with Christina Moynihan to expand the Rag-a-Muffin program. Rag-a-Muffin seeks to transform pepe – donated clothes sent from the USA to Haiti - into purses, laptop bags, tote bags, and other accessory items. Rag-a-Muffin utilizes local production in order to add tremendous value to these new products, which are subsequently exported to the USA and sold to THP supporters.

Moved by Deacon Moynihan’s words, Salomon became convinced and decided to leave the comforts of his job at the United Nations. Now, Salomon is spearheading the transition of Rag-A-Muffin into Art in a Carton, which is being incubated within an existing manufacturing company in Haiti.  The plan is for Art in a Carton to eventually become an independent, for-profit company – one that will continue to train new employees and sell items similar to those sold through the Rag-A-Muffin program. The forming company has its operations at Chabuma S.A., the hardware and building materials business owned by THP Board Chair Patrick Brun, which is providing free space to aid in its startup.

Salomon is the Lead Manager of the newly formed for-profit company, helping it to grow and become established as a legitimate company here in Haiti.

Married, with a baby girl, and successful, Salomon is the perfect example of a Louverturian who is actively making a difference in his country. As Salomon reflected, “The MINUSTAH job was temporary, but this is permanent. It is clear that my country does not have enough jobs. I now have the opportunity to apply the skills I have to create more jobs for Haitians.”