On February 26, 2016, USAID’s Local Enterprise and Value Chain Enhancement (LEVE) Project provided a partner contribution grant to the Design Organization and Training (D.O.T) center to support their membership operation center’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of Haitian artisans so they can compete effectively in the global market. The center is working to create a professional hub that will provide artisans with the tools, the education and a framework to help them increase the quality and standard of their work.
D.O.T sought the assistance of the USAID’s LEVE Project to assist them in putting together a five year business plan which will enable them to ensure the sustainability of the center in developing various revenue streams. This initiative helped them build a strategic plan and identify necessary equipment for their operations. The LEVE project will assist D.O.T. in investing in improved technologies for three of their main activities ― textile, ceramics and leather goods. LEVE’s support will also leverage funding provided by the Urban Zen Foundation as well as private equity injections by Paula Coles.
Established on June 15, 2015 in Port-au-Prince, D.O.T was created by Haitian artisan and business woman Paula Coles with the support of Donna Karan’s The Urban Zen Foundation and The New School’s Parsons School of Design. The launch of the Center is a significant part of Donna Karan’s commitment to President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative to bring vocational education to Haiti. Occupying 5,000 square feet in an existing 20,000 square-foot building in Port-au-Prince, the D.O.T Center is a for profit organization that operates as a hub ― providing intermediary agent services to link producer artisans with foreign buyers ― and is owned by Paula Coles, Jeff Blatt and Maryse Kedar. D.O.T will be an incubator for Haiti’s artisan community, fostering innovation, providing resources and materials, and enabling artisans to scale up and put Haiti’s unique culture on the global map.
“We are grateful to receive this grant from USAID’s LEVE Project, it will allow us to train and assist more artisans so they can compete on the global market,” says Paula Coles, Director of D.O.T. “D.O.T will help bridge Haiti’s traditional artisan techniques with the modernity and design innovation needed to succeed in today’s marketplace. Under the tutelage of designers and educators artisans will receive hands-on training, as well as instruction in the use of new tools and materials to complete their designs.”
USAID’s LEVE Project will work closely with D.O.T to assist Haiti’s artisan community improve their livelihoods and gain a foothold in the world market.