Written by Kelli Bergthold
Food shots by Wes Naman
Farm and hot sauce images courtesy Bel Soley
Starting a business in the best of circumstances can be difficult; starting one in the wake of a major natural disaster can be nearly impossible. When the now-infamous 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti’s capital of Port au Prince on January 12, 2010, the entire country’s transportation system, government, and economy, ground to a halt. With more than 2 million people left homeless and 3 million in desperate need of emergency aid, the global community rallied to help Haitians back to their feet.
It was in this environment that Haitian-American company Bel Soley, Inc. struggled to find solid ground to keep their modest operations to the south of Port au Prince operating. According to co-founder Brian Hays, Bel Soley is “dedicated to development in Haiti by building for-profit enterprises for the sale of agricultural products domestically and for export.”
The company works with local Haitian farmers to grow tropical crops such as mango, bananas, papaya, and hot peppers. With a U.S. distribution company in Boston, and Haitian operations in the north and south of the country, Bel Soley was poised to launch a large hot pepper export venture.
“Our hot peppers are habaneros from imported seed and the local hot pepper, a habanero variety called ‘Piman Bouk’,” Hays explained. “Our target was to get to ship out 24,000 pounds per month by the end of the year.”
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