The winner of Haiti’s inaugural Digicel Entrepreneur of the Year award has been named as businessman, Hans P Garoute, who has helped to create more than 12,000 jobs over the past eight years across a network of more than 600 small sewing businesses.

Mr Garoute was chosen as the overall winner of the award’s program – after taking top prize in the industry section – for the extraordinary success of his Institut National pour le Développement et la Promotion de la Culture (INDEPCO), set up in 1992.

In the remaining five categories, two women were winners: Magalie Noel Dresse of Caribbean Craft in the emerging businesses sector and Marie-Marthe Balin Paul of Collège Canapé-Vert for tourism and culture.

The services award went to Mathias Pierre of GaMa Consulting. The food and agriculture award went to Azor Petuel of coffee growers’ co-operative, COOPCAB. And the environment prize was won by Duquesne Fednard of D & E Green Enterprises.

The first Digicel Entrepreneur of the Year awards programme - whose theme was Ignite the Spirit of Enterprise – was launched in May 2010 to identify, reward and cultivate entrepreneurs whose business initiative can give Haiti new economic foundations. It generated huge interest from Haitian business people, with some 220 nominations in its six categories.

Hans Garoute is a hugely worthy and deserving winner of this inaugural award”, said Denis O’Brien, Chairman, Digicel Group, after the winners were chosen by the panel of judges, chaired by Mr O’Brien.

The way in which Hans has shared his vision and expertise with scores of small sewing ateliers across the country has been truly inspirational. And the way he has developed a thriving garment industry to support them has been equally so. His innovative spirit is an example to all of us.”

The other five major category winners are no less impressive, said Mr O’Brien. “The way in which they have grown their businesses in the face of nothing less than national catastrophe has been awe-inspiring. The enterprises they have built will be the backbone of Haiti’s emerging post-earthquake economy for many years to come.”

Accepting the Digicel award, Hans Garoute described the title of Haiti Entrepreneur of the Year was “a crowning achievement” for his work.

The growth and development of INDEPCO has been a labour of love for me, and something to which I am utterly committed – and this award is an important acknowledgment that my work, and that of my entire team, is recognised and appreciated, and that too is invaluable.”

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