Social Enterprise in Haiti Supports Vulnerable Communities
KOURAJ is an innovative social entrepreneurial start-up in Haiti doing pioneering work for the sustenance and financial independence of vulnerable and marginalized communities. KOURAJ includes leaders from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in Haiti who are committed to the empowerment of these people.
KOURAJ’s first innovative project involves the creation of a cultural center that will allow talented Haitian artists to showcase their skills, while providing a platform where the Haitian LGBT community feels comfortable. An American social entrepreneur Nick Stratton, who helped create KOURAJ, says that this project is an exciting model for sustainable, grassroots, community based development in Haiti.
Stratton says that after spending time with the ‘masisi’ (local term for LGBT) community in Haiti, he realized the urgency for the creation of such a project. KOURAJ means ‘courage’ in Haitian Creole, which describes the mission of this enterprise. KOURAJ is focused on taking out isolation, fear and social ostracizing from the ‘masisi’ life and creating greater acceptance for the community in the Haitian society.
Haiti has a unique blend of amazing artists and musicians, traditional dancers, and a heart-warming LGBT culture. However, all their beauty and talent gets overshadowed by deep rooted ideas about masisi as being some kind of ‘sinners’ in the society. This public stereotyping of the masisi has placed them in a severely disadvantageous position in the society. KOURAJ is working to change this situation, and helping create an alternative view on masisi. Its current objective is to launch a mass public communications campaign to raise awareness about this talented and beautiful community.
KOURAJ is supporting LGBT advocacy using the route of financial empowerment and a rights-based framework. Rather than depend on donations and foreign aid, the community must uplift itself by applying itself talents and creating self-sustaining models of financial independence, which will eventually help bring about greater social acceptance and recognition in the Haitian society.
Photo Credit: juliaf