By: Jennifer Pettie
When I went to Fondwa, Haiti, for the first time with a mission group to build dormitories, I felt something was wrong. I’m not meant to build dormitories. I’m no carpenter! For me, this type of traditional mission work produced only short-term results. So in 2011 when I read an article in Christianity Today, written by a professor who was using her accounting expertise as her ministry with the non-profit agency Partners Worldwide, I knew I had found a way to serve Haiti to affect long-term change.
I am a CPA who works as an internal auditor in Burlington, NC, for LabCorp—the second largest clinical testing lab in the United States. I found Partners Worldwide online, and by January 2012, I was at my first Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I realized I could use my business and accounting experience to help both small and medium Haitian business owners grow.
On my most recent trip to Haiti in February 2013, I traveled to work with business trainees in Léogane, Haiti. With the help of a PW interpreter, I instructed Haitian entrepreneurs in using accounting practices to drive business decisions and daily operations.
We also visited ten entrepreneurs one-on-one during our stay in Haiti. The diverse businesses ranged from a chicken farm, to an ethanol producer, furniture makers, and bakeries. For one bakery, I developed a breakeven analysis. For another we reviewed an analysis that showed how substituting a key ingredient that represented 60% of the food cost could increase profits by 40%.
We are committed to these businesses. We will return in May to see their development and have plans to continue returning every 3–5 months over the next several years to help them grow.
There is a real longing from the business owners we mentor to grow. Regardless of country or culture, all people have the desire to improve their lives and those of their families. It is exciting to see the momentum taking off in the region around Léogane. I am grateful to be part of the movement and look forward to the challenges ahead.
Jennifer Pettie works as a Senior Internal Auditor for LabCorp in Burlington, North Carolina. She is a graduate of Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Jennifer has served on NCACPA’s Minority Action Committee and Healthcare Industry Committee, and is a Financial Literacy Volunteer. She resides in Burlington and enjoys kayaking and running half marathons.