In a country with a 60% unemployment rate, a coworking space is on a mission to bring jobs to more people by providing learning opportunities that result in higher employability. The space is called HaITian Common Space, a non-profit organization and social enterprise that looks to teach more Haitians tech-based skills and bring them more opportunities.
In 2015, the organization’s founder Gabriela Ariza attended a class that transformed her life. She had been working as a web designer for a couple of years at that point but wanted to learn more about cybersecurity and technology. She quickly realized how these new industries could provide jobs to people with the proper training and direction.
“I saw how cybersecurity and technology impacts every single person,” shares Gabriela. “It crosses borders, it creates jobs, and if you have access to a computer and internet, you become powerful.”
Since then, the technology advocate started running classes for people in Haiti to land them jobs in web programming, cybersecurity, computer networking, and other basic tech-based jobs for all age groups. Those simple beginnings would bring HaITian Common Space to life.
HaITian Common Space provides free classes to young Haitians, mostly between fifteen to nineteen years old, but some students as young as seven have joined the program. The organization also provides the software, devices, and internet connection for the students to use during hands-on learning sessions. In a day and age where technology continues to drive the future of work, the organization believes that preparing young students in Haiti to gain employment in these fields will help alleviate their families from poverty and improve their life. The organization’s greater mission is to create a social impact by empowering these young people and hopefully the nation through better job choices.
Using life-changing STEM experiences, HaITian Common Space has successfully taught and deployed IT professionals through its programs. Diversity, inclusion, and collaboration are the cornerstones of this endeavor as the team behind the classes and space hopes to embolden underrepresented people to shape the future of their nation.
“This non-profit is taking the first step by providing more access to technology, information, and knowledge to more individuals that can use it to build their businesses or work remote jobs right from Haiti,” shares its founder Gabriela.
Gabriela Ariza has also spent the last fifteen years practicing what she preaches and excelling in her IT career. She has earned a national award for web experience and picked up a Master’s Degree in Information Systems. Before launching her non-profit, she worked as a cybersecurity election systems officer for the second largest county in the nation.
The organization’s co-working space also provides value to the community, giving access to high-speed connections and computers to businesses and freelancers. Despite the nation’s political unrest, HaITian Common Space continues to operate and open its doors to anyone who wants to learn.
Gabriela is burning with passion to help revitalize a country that she believes is dying from the inside. Despite the recent death of the president, political issues, lack of safe infrastructure and instability, HaITian Common Space keeps its doors open and continues to function.
“We made sure we are still available and operational no matter what. Right now, Haitians are brave because they risk their lives going to our center because they are unsure if they will even make it back home alive. The riots and the unrest are very scary, and many people get hurt. It shows that regardless of danger they want to prosper,” she said.
The co-working space is currently located in Cap-Haïtian, the second largest city in the nation. In the next few years, it looks to help over 200,000 families through tech education. HaITian Common Space is currently looking for funding to help scale its operations and take on more students. Learn more about HaITian Common Space by visiting its website.