Startup Weekend believe their model for entrepreneurship and innovation is the kind of spark the country needs to get back on it's feet and prosper in the future.It has been well over a month since the devastating earthquake struck near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and while thousands of relief workers have flocked to the island, some of the efforts are still in the planning stage. Though innovative tech startups aren't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a developing nation like Haiti, the founders of Seattle-based
In a blog post on the Startup Weekend website Sunday, co-founder Marc Nager announced the non-profit startup incubator program would be teaming up with charities and holding an event in Haiti in support of local innovation.
"The event will be far different from a standard Startup Weekend event; however, the model will fundamentally [be] used to help find the best solutions to the most widely felt problems of the people," writes Nager. "We believe we will find local Haitians that will have great ideas to address some of the problems they face daily. The end goal is to take the money we receive via the fundraising efforts and award it directly to the new, local ventures and ideas the emerge from the event."
In Haiti, Startup Weekend is working together with We Hear Your Voice, Global Water Trust, and Angels in Cowboy Boots, as well as Microsoft BizSpark and Piryx in the U.S. to raise funds for the event's participants. In terrible situations like the aftermath of a traumatic earthquake, any form of help is a positive thing, but some, like Melissa Carrier, director of the University of Maryland's center for social value creation, are skeptical whether the event will do much to benefit the fragile nation.
"There is a strong risk that Haiti may not be ready to absorb this kind of economic development by the fall," Carrier said as quoted in a New York Times article Sunday. "Basic needs of the citizens may still be so under-met that there won't be capacity to even think about business creation and jobs."
Startup Weekend looks to kick off their funding this March at South by Southwest with an event at The Speak Easy. The venue will allow for 400 attendees, and Startup Weekend hopes to raise $8,000 for Haiti by charging a $20 entry fee. Obviously, any little bit helps in a situation like the one in Haiti, but is an innovation event such as this going to succeed in the recovering nation? Or is entrepreneurship the spur Haiti needs to better its economy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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