Duckencia Bourdierd had just graduated from college when a powerful earthquake devastated her hometown of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in January 2010. Unable to imagine a future amid the rubble, she moved to the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Six months later, Bourdierd returned home for a visit. Moved by the resilience fueling the country’s reconstruction, she knew she had to stay and help her nation rebuild.
“I wanted to be a part of that renovation, of this chance to start over,” she told AQ.
Bourdierd, then 24 years old, incorporated that urge toward renewal into Haiplast, a recycling company she co-founded in February 2011. The fruition of a concept she developed in one of her business administration courses at Port-au-Prince’s Université Notre Dame d’Haïti, Haiplast fills a dire need for the management of solid waste, which is otherwise tossed in the streets and collected informally and under dangerous conditions, if at all.
“Beyond making money, I wanted to do something that could help my country,” Bourdierd told AQ.
More than six years later, Bourdierd is doing both. Haiplast’s revenue of $189,911 in 2016 was more than double its earnings in 2013. The company employs 21 people, but benefits thousands more who collect discarded plastic, which Haiplast buys, and then cleans, compacts and resells to larger companies that recycle it in the United States, China and Europe.
The journey has not been easy. Bourdierd and her partners fell victim to a scam when trying to purchase their first plastic compactor from China. Bourdierd has also had to defy critics who underestimated her for being the only woman CEO of a recycling company in Haiti.
Bourdierd recalled the time a bank employee told her she would have a harder time getting a loan, since becoming a mother could make running a company more difficult.
For Bourdierd, now a mother of a two-year-old son, the company’s success speaks for itself.
“I say Haiplast was my first baby,” Bourdierd noted. “I believe I’m managing things quite well.”
Brendan O’Boyle is an editor at AQ