The Haiti Tech Summit (HTS) has quickly become one of the main go-to events to attend in Haiti. With eye-catching speakers such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, the summit continues to draw attention from Haiti’s Diaspora communities, but also influencers in the tech industry across the world.We spoke with Christine Souffrant Ntim, founder of HTS, about the upcoming festival and what guests can expect this year.
HT: This is the third annual Haiti Tech Summit, what can attendees expect from this year’s conference compared to the first two years?
The summit will return with 3 major new developments for 2019.
We’re partnering with Forbes Magazine to live stream the event and feature stories of speakers and attendees on their website and community app.
The summit will feature major experts and speakers to train, discuss and partner with local stakeholders on projects covering 10+ major industry sectors, including tourism, agriculture, and fashion. We’re also facilitating roundtable meetings with stand by moderators to issue policy reports post the summit. The goal is to position Haiti to leverage the 4th Industrial Revolution and accelerate Haiti into the Digital Age.
Lastly, we’re offering a largest series of training workshops on personal branding, business financing, and digital marketing in Haiti’s history. During these sessions, attendees will learn about personal branding in the digital age, how to build a startup that leverages future technologies, and how to start and scale a movement.
HT: Haiti has had some political and social challenges over the last year that has trickled down and severely impacted the tourism industry. How are you and your team managing the negative perceptions currently around Haiti and how has that impacted planning this year’s summit?
We are aware of the challenges that started from July 2018. During the January 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, I announced our global tech tour to galvanize the global Haitian community towards the Haiti Tech Summit mission of accelerating Haiti into the future. The roadshow includes stops to 20 global cities where Haitian communities thrive. Through this tour we’re able to highlight positive news about Haiti that rarely makes it to mainstream media. For example, the impact made of partners who attend Haiti Tech Summit and why the mission is important now more than ever.
HT:You’ve been quoted as saying that Haiti has a branding problem, and not an economic or social one. How do you imagine technology can help solve the country’s branding problem?
We’ve already done it. The summit last year had over 123 million social media views, where if you google Haiti during the days of the summit, you saw images of the summit and not the chaos images that usually circulate to represent Haiti. Furthermore, anyone who speaks or is featured with Haiti Tech Summit has a high SEO ranking on the first page, which is why we started an industry influencer list to further highlight what is happening in Haiti. In the end, we believe that Haiti has a branding problem that can influence many of its economic and social issues because when you compare to countries in the Middle East, Africa and South America with war torn issues. Those countries still see a flood of investments because of how they position themselves in the world. No public or private entity in Haiti has taken on the mantle of positioning Haiti for the world, which will directly influence local economic development. Haiti Tech Summit plans to do this.
HT:The summit has become one of Haiti’s signature events. Are there any plans on expanding the summit, or hosting one elsewhere in the country to accommodate more people?
We plan on doing more work across all 10 departments of Haiti. Since we did the largest global tour to 20 cities this year, you will hear developments on a local tour across Haiti in the future. Furthermore, every year we grow the event and its reach. In 2017 it was just Haiti Tech Summit with 500 participants. In 2018 it was Haiti Tech Summit with 750 participants and Haiti Tech Week, which included free trainings and workshops for local entrepreneurs, with 1000 participants. This year, we are pleased to announce the expansion of Haiti Tech Summit with 1000 participants, Haiti tech Week with 2000 entrepreneurs, and now Haiti Tech Festival with 3000 influencers … that’s a total of 5000 people that will be activated from July 17-July 23.
HT: What do you hope attendees take away from the summit? What should be an attendees ultimate goal while there?
The goal should be leveraging the workshops and network. We are the number one conference not only in Haiti but in the entire caribbean.