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Survival Economics: Haitian Tent City Creates Community Services

Without any way to generate an income, Haitian entrepreneurs have found ways to help their community by creating goods and services needed by...

Kyana Gordon
Kyana Gordon on March 29, 2010. @Tropikyana

A former nine-hole golf course, now houses up to 50,000 people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Without any way to generate an income, Haitian tent-city residents have found ways to help their community by creating goods and services needed by its inhabitants . Take for instance, Yolene Samard a salon owner pre-earthquake devastation decided to transform her tent into her former business. Partitioning off one-half of the tent she shares with her husband, Samard created a clean, welcoming atmosphere with a bench where customers can wait. Pedicures are most popular, as the camp is dirty and most women find this cheap service necessary for hygiene upkeep. Competition is stiff as several other salons have cropped up, more-so than before the earthquake. Makeshift stores abound. Another resident, Amilkar Gabriel purchased a generator and a small television, converting his tent into a movie theater and cell phone charging area after he observed kids with nothing to do and parents complaining of mobile phones running low on battery.

Gabriel explains how he cuts a deal with customers:

I know it’s slow, because not everybody can afford to pay 10 gourdes to come watch movies, he says.  Pay to charge your phone, and your kids can watch a movie for free.

[via NPR]

Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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