Across the rural plains of Haiti, where fresh fruit supply is in abundance, dehydration centers have been erected to support the development of the country’s dried fruit industry. One company that has been making the production of organic dried fruits its business is Delicious Fruits S.A., which is owned by Jean Succar. Founded in 2004, and certified as an organic fruit drying company, Delicious Fruits has been offering a range of organic dried fruits such as mangos, coconuts, pineapples, and figs from Haiti to the US market.
Like any business that is seeking to expand, the issue of finance and investment becomes a hot topic especially in a climate where access to funds can be limited. Many firms look towards traditional funding options such as bank loans, investments from friends and family and also grants from development agencies like the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export).
Over the past five years, whilst implementing the European Union (EU) funded Regional Private Sector Development Programme, Caribbean Export has not only awarded 312 grants to firms across the region, but also focussed to up-skill firms in the process of grant proposal writing, in recognition of the need for firms to access finance. It is a skill that is often overlooked, but when a company is seeking investments, the quality of the proposal can be a deciding factor as to whether financial investment is secured or not. The skills acquired during the workshops are not only relevant when applying to the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS), but can also be transferred to other grant schemes and funding mechanisms. The Agency has held 35 proposal writing workshops in collaboration with national BSOs, training 1953 people in the process. As a result, 67% of the firms awarded grants had also completed the proposal writing workshop prior to application submission.
Delicious Fruits S.A. is one of the companies that was successful in receiving one of the 312 grants awarded. With the objective of strengthening and expanding its distribution channel, owner Succar decided to participate in the grant proposal writing workshop held in Haiti. He needed the investment to realise his objective, and so attending the workshop gave him the opportunity to enhance his skills, thereby ensuring that the best possible proposal was put forward to secure the grant funding.
Upon receiving the grant contract, Succar was able to put the wheels in motion to upgrade the facility with the installation of a new heat exchanger, allowing for an increase in production capacity of dried mango to meet the growing demands for gourmet organic dried fruit from overseas. Moreover, the upgraded plant meant Delicious Fruits remained in line with FDA requirements. In spite of the challenges that are associated with running a business in Haiti, as well as the misconception that dried fruit is a dying sector within the country, Succar has managed to lead the way in the market place and utilise a natural resource found in Haiti to supply ever increasingly health conscious North American market.
With continued focus on marketing activities and development Succar hopes to continue the steady growth trend. Since increasing production capacity he has been able to increase export sales and employ more staff in the process.