By Danielle Hyams
Every year the Haitian diaspora sends home remittances that account for nearly a third of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Competition is scarce among transfer services, and many impose steep fees on those sending money and goods abroad. Yet one Haitian entrepreneur is looking to shake up the marketplace.
Rudy Rocourt is the founder of Jetli Transfer, a service that allows people to purchase goods such as food and electronics online and have them delivered to recipients in Haiti. Working in the financial sector in Port-au-Prince, Rocourt witnessed firsthand the crucial role remittances play in the local economy and decided to tap into the multibillion-dollar industry in a way that would benefit Haitians both locally and abroad.
“We want to empower and drive local businesses to have more of a presence with the Haitian diaspora,” Rocourt said. “The goal of this is to empower remittances for the development of the country.”
Roucourt’s long-term vision is to build a gig economy around these remittances.
“If someone buys a good, we can source it at a local store and that person will get a text on WhatsApp or our platform and a courier can go pick it up and deliver it to that person’s house,” he explained. “So now we just activated somebody to get some extra cash that they never had before through our platform.”
Jetli strictly sources goods from within Haiti, which enables it to make deliveries within 48 hours of purchase.
“We consider ourselves the Amazon of Haiti,” Rocourt added.
On the other end, Jetli Transfer allows members of the diaspora to send goods to Haiti without the burden of additional fees by working with local wholesalers to keep costs low.
Often migrants are making huge sacrifices to send money and goods back home, and they don’t get any tax benefits for supporting these dependents, so having to pay fees in addition to what they are already spending is even more onerous, said Dr. Karen Richman, an anthropologist who has studied the Haitian economy.
Many in the diaspora say they are just grateful to have a way to help their loved ones in Haiti without simply sending them cash.
Cassandra Tesao, 31, has been using Jetli Transfer two to three times per month to send food to her family and friends living in Port-au-Prince.
“We had stopped sending food before we had Jetli because for a while we had no company to use,” Tesao said. “We found Jetli and it was kind of a lifesaver. I love the service and the food is really good for my family and the price is affordable.”
Jetli Transfer currently delivers to recipients in the Port-au-Prince area, and plans to add many new cities to its pipeline in the near future.