Since inception in 2004 to the present, leaders of the Haitian-American Business Network (HABNET), have established a platform for business owners to refer each other and do business with each other; we coordinate mentorship for members; we assist business owners in finding needed resources; we conduct monthly business education and networking sessions as well as annual economic conferences; we harness a strong relationship between our member business owners and local elected officials. As such, we are supportive of local officials who are sensitive to the interests of our small business community.
In the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, we have expanded our services beyond providing financial literacy and business education. We have partnered with Councilmember Jumaane D. Williams forming the 45th District Haitian Relief Effort. Currently, HABNET's services also include coordinating the relief effort in the 45th District. Namely, establishing TPS Clinic sites, providing information about petitioning of a relative and other immigration issues, providing referrals for bereavement counseling, building a database of volunteers, providing translation services and more. We establish programs and collaborate with other service providers to ensure that people who recently come to Brooklyn from Haiti have access to the immediate resources that they need and are afforded the necessary tools to be self-sufficient.
On April 16, 2009 and April 23, 2010 at Brooklyn Borough Hall we held the annual Toussaint L’Ouverture Symposium and Business Awards in commemoration of Toussaint L’Ouverture and in recognition of Haitian-American businesses owners and organizational leaders who are providing excellent service to customers and to the community. In April 2010 the keynote speaker was renowned Economist and Scholar, Dr. Ludovic Comeau with performances by Dickson Guillaume and the Haitian Mass Choir.
On November 20, 2009 we held the “Doing Business with the Federal Government Conference” at the Brooklyn Business Library. The keynote speaker was Mr. Mark Oliver, Director Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, U.S. Dept of Interior. Other topics and speakers included: “Grant Writing for Best Results” Mr. Jocelyn McCalla, Chief Executive Officer, JMC Strategies. “Doing Business with New York City” Ms. Marie Delus, Deputy Agency Chief Contracting Officer, Office of the Mayor. “Doing Business with New York State” Ms. Marian Corbett, Purchasing Officer, Procurement Services Group (PSG) and Mr. Lee Bennett, Executive Director M/WBE and Community Relations, New York State Office of General Services. "The Brooklyn Business Library as a Resource" Ms. Maud Andrew, Programs and Outreach Manager, Brooklyn Public Library's Business Library. "Small Business Financing" Ms. Elizabeth Abreu, Business Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration. Finally, “A HABNET Presentation” Mr. Jackson Rockingster, Chairman and President, HABNET Chamber of Commerce.
On September 5, 2008 in recognition of Emergency Preparedness Month, HABNET held a Business Emergency Preparedness Seminar at the Brooklyn Business Library. The seminar included speakers from the Brooklyn Business Library, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Kitoko Insurance, Optimum Realty and Document Integrated Technologies.
On April 17-19, 2008 we held a national conference on “Advancing the Haitian-American Agenda:Economic, Civic and Social Strategies” at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The conference included The Toussaint L’Ouverture Business Award, the Workshops on Economic, Civic and Social Strategies. The topics were Small Business Support Services, Haiti Connection: Development Projects and Investments, Community Organizing & Development, The Business Side of Art and Entertainment, The Economics and Politics of Health Care, Wealth Building Strategies, Community Services, Workforce Development and Education. Our panelists were experts who flew in from all over the country. On April 19, the last day of the Conference, we held our gala at Glen Terrace.
On November 11, 2006, we held our 2nd Annual HABNET Reception:Appreciating Excellence, Service and Leadership in our Community and we recognized Yves Sanon as The 2006 HABNET Entrepreneur of the Year. The HABNET Scholarship totaling $1000 was given to Ania Pierre-Louis, a gifted student at Clara Barton High School and the Empowerment Theatre, designed to promote civic education, made its debut.
On September 22, 2006, as a member of the Consortium for Haitian Empowerment (CHE), we participated in a Symposium on Civic Participation in collaboration with District Attorney Hynes. We emphasized the importance of civic engagement and discussed the challenges and solutions we face as a community with respect to civic engagement.
On August 27, 2006, HAAPA/HABNET in collaboration with HALEC organized a Town Hall meeting with 11th Congressional candidates Carl Andrews, Yvette Clarke, Chris Owens and David Yassky at Saint Jerome Church. This was the first such forum in the Haitian-American community in New York City. The forum was designed for community members to learn about the candidates and for candidates to share their platform with constituents.
On May 19, 2006 as the Consortium for Haitian Empowerment, we participated in an economic empowerment conference at Pace University to educate the public about finance, insurance, entrepreneurship and the necessity for businesses to forge a relation with elected officials. HABNET will organize such forums each year.
In April 2005 and April 2006 at City Hall, HAAPA/HABNET, in collaboration with HALEC and “18 Mai” Committee held a Symposium on Toussaint L’Ouverture and honor Haitian-American businesses owners who are providing excellent service to customers.
In June 2005, we work with an ad hoc committee to address the issue of human rights violations of Haitian nationals in the Dominican Republic. HAAPA/HABNET representatives went to the DR to participate in a special forum and we made monetary contributions to MUDHA in support of its efforts to handle the crisis.
In the spring of 2005 leaders of our sister organization HAAPA selected and organized the legal team to represent the parents of the twelve Haitian children who were denigrated at PS 34 in Queens. The legal team comprised of Sanford Rubenstein Esq., Ramses Delva, Esq. and Natasha Pierre. Two of the three attorneys are members of HABNET.
In 2004, leaders of our sister organization HAAPA drafted The Declaration of the Haitian Diaspora calling for stability in, and foreign aid to, Haiti irrespective of Haiti’s governmental leadership of the past, present and future. This document also outlined the role the Haitian Diaspora should play to assist in developing the socio-economic infrastructure of Haiti.