By Victoria Jonas
With a few clicks on a computer, Haitian entrepreneurs will now be able to share their services and businesses worldwide through SevisPlus, an online marketplace where users can find creative and professional services that launched this summer.
“I have always seen a lot of opportunities in the market for digital services while working as a freelancer. Most importantly opportunities that people from my country can benefit from,” aid Berthony Delalue, SevisPlus founder. “I wanted to incorporate these opportunities into one package to make it easier for anyone to succeed online with their businesses, skills or talents. That’s what SevisPlus is all about. The team behind this project is really committed to providing value to our users.”
Before starting SevisPlus, Delalue was a multilingual technical support agent for a business process outsourcing company in the Philippines, while he studied computer science. Later, he became a software engineer and digital marketer, where he worked with people in more than 78 countries.
After seeing a great number of opportunities in the digital space, Delalue registered SevisPlus in January 2018.
Haiti is a country that faces several issues like fuel protests, a lack of resources, political volatility and very few job opportunities. According to Trading Economics, the employment rate in Haiti is at 14 percent. SevisPlus provides a new stream of income for Haitians freelancers.
“I think SevisPlus is a good initiative with great potential. Haiti has a high unemployment rate. This could leverage skill sets and offer some jobs or services,” said Rudy Rocourt, founder and CEO of Jetli Transfer, an e-commerce business that allows those of the Haitian diaspora to send packaged goods to their family in Haiti. “This will allow a lot of social-economic impacts.”
Although SevisPlus permits Haitians to collect payments without having a Paypal or bank account abroad, Rocourt believes it still faces a few challenges.
“The drawback is the friction with the payments. The problem is the central banks. The central banks don’t want to democratize. It keeps everything to the local banks. It is hard for startups to get access to the payment infrastructure in Haiti,” said Rocourt.
Sevisplus strives to compete in the global market by creating a singular digital space for Haitians to share and find services. Sellers are able to earn 90 percent profit if buyers use their referral link, or 80 percent profit without a referral link.
“People want resources in Haiti. But, they don’t know where to find them,” said Henry Beaucejour, founder of Haiti Tech News. “Haiti faces a lot of issues, especially with electricity, technology and social problems. However, that doesn’t stop them. They find ways around these issues by using hotel lobbies, universities or anywhere they can get access to the internet. I believe a platform like this can strive with the right marketing behind it.”
This new platform may potentially provide the Haitian economy and freelancers with revenue; however, the success of SevisPlus may depend on how well it’s advertised to buyers and sellers.
“The only concern is marketing. In Haiti, you have to market your ideas everywhere. There are different tech groups on Facebook that include a lot of developers. They need to reach out people like that,” said Beaucejour.
Yet, the idea of an online marketplace for business professionals isn’t a new concept. Other platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork offer similar services. However, SevisPlus presents features to make it stand out from the competition.
The platform pushes to create a space that is adaptive to a variety of users locations. It supports services, technical support and customer service in English, Haitian Creole, French and Spanish; also it accepts more than 130 currencies. There are subscription and referral features too.
The subscription program allows users to pay a set price and gain access to services for a period of time. Furthermore, the referral program allows users to gain a fee when they create a custom link or widgets that buyers use to purchase.
“I spent several months trying to get orders from Fiverr and Upwork. The experience was terrible. The competition is fierce because of the number of freelancers using them. I think I have more possibilities of building a valuable profile and higher selling chances on Sevisplus,” said Giovani Louis Jean, a new SevisPlus seller who offers transcriptions, translation and customer services.
Although SevisPlus recently launched, sellers are anticipating its benefits.
“I signed up weeks ago, and I haven’t sold any services yet. However, I had several inquiries of people asking questions and showing interest,” said Louis Jean. “ I think it’s very early to see that as a negative sign and from what I have noticed the number of listings is growing every day, which is a very good sign. I just have to be patient. I think Sevisplus will become a reference when it comes to finding services from Haitian freelancers and businesses. I don’t want to be left behind.”