Analysis: Haitian tablet factory builds skills, surprises locals

Comment on this story


br HAITI-TABLET-_0316_11

Reuters

A worker builds a tablet at the Surtab factory in Port-au-Prince. With $200 000 in start-up funds and using imported Asian parts, the factory produces three models that run on Android. Photo: Reuters

Port-Au-Prince - Better known for Third World poverty and political mayhem, the western hemisphere’s least-developed country has made a surprising entry into the hi-tech world with its own Android tablet.

Sandwiched between textile factories in a Port-au-Prince industrial park next to a slum, a Haitian-founded company has begun manufacturing the low-cost tablet called Sûrtab, a made-up name using the French word “sûr”, meaning “sure”, to suggest reliability.

Unlike the factories next door where low-paid textile workers churn out cheap undergarments for the US market, Sûrtab workers are equipped with soldering irons, not sewing machines.

Dressed in sterile white work clothes and a hair net, Sergine Brice is proud of her job. “I never imagined I could, one day, make a tablet by myself,” she said.

Unemployed for a year after losing her position at a phone company, Brice was not sure she had the skills when she took the job after Sûrtab opened last year.

“When I arrived and realised the job deals with electronic components, I was wondering if I would be able to do it. But when I finished my first tablet… I felt an immense pleasure,” she said.

Her family and friends were sceptical. “None of them believed me,” she said. “Tablets made in Haiti? What are you talking about?” they told her.

“Haitians have in our minds the idea that nothing can be done in this country. I proved that yes, we Haitians have the capacity to do many things,” she said. “It’s not just Americans or Chinese. We’ve got what they’ve got, so we can do it too.”

With $200 000 (R2.13 million) in start-up funds from the US Agency for International Development (USAid), and using imported Asian components, the factory produces three models with 7-inch screens that run on Google’s Android operation system. They range from a simple wi-fi tablet with 512 megabytes of RAM for about $100, to a third-generation model with 2 gigabytes of memory for $285.

The small factory with 40 employees is a throwback to the 1970s and 1980s when Haiti had a thriving assembly industry, including computer boards, as well as baseballs for US professional teams.

Political turmoil, and a US economic embargo in the 1990s following a military coup, put them out of business.

“A product such as Sûrtab shows that Haitians are not just destined for low-wage, low-skilled jobs,” USAid country director John Groarke said. “It’s the sort of high-skilled job that the country needs to work its way out of poverty.”

Brice, who works an eight-hour shift, would not disclose her salary. Sûrtab employees receive a bonus for each tablet that successfully passes the quality control process and the company says it pays two to three times the Haitian minimum wage of $5 a day.

With a limited selection of expensive imported tablets available in Haiti, Sûrtab is the cheapest device on the market.

“It’s easy to use and it takes really good quality photos,” said one happy customer. “And it’s great to see ‘Made in Haiti’ on the back.”

At the factory there is no production line, instead workers assemble each device from start to finish.

“We could have done like in Asia, one task per employee, which is faster, but we wanted to have a better quality product,” said Diderot Musset, Sûrtab’s production manager.

Depending on the model, it takes an employee between 35 minutes and an hour to make a tablet. The company produces between 4 000 and 5 000 tablets a month, but plans to double that from next month.

“We want the parts of the market which are not taken by the big players, especially in developing countries. These people would like to have a tablet but cannot afford an iPad,” Musset said, referring to the Apple device that costs at least $300 in US stores and is barely available in Haiti.

All the factory floor employees are women.

“It was not a choice we made but it happens that women have better results. I think women may be more open to learning something completely different,” he said.

The company has a retail distribution deal in Haiti with Digicel, a global telecoms company that dominates the local cellular market, as well as sales to Haitian government ministries and local NGOs.

A university in Kenya has ordered 650 Sûrtab devices.

Sûrtab hoped to diversify its product line beyond tablets, business development director Patrick Sagna said.

“We want to establish a presence in the software sector. We are in contact with people from San Francisco who are ready to work with Haitian developers,” he said.

Sûrtab’s investors want to build an applied science graduate school, as well as looping in Haiti’s skilled arts and crafts industry to help with design.

“Rather than importing covers for our tablets, we will produce them locally,” Sagna said. “We want our packaging, made with recycled and recyclable materials, to become a travelling cultural exhibition to highlight Haitian culture.” – Reuters


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

     

Join us on

IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks IOL-Social networks
Kwarenina
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
mystiqueZN
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 45.
View Profile
blondgirl
I'm a 57 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 53 and 60.
View Profile
Bella_11
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
ioio
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
LOVINGLIFE417
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 43 and 50.
View Profile
lenQ313
I'm a 19 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 28.
View Profile
Kosmos075
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
AMy_303
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Stiletto1
I'm a 53 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 57.
View Profile
Stella143
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 45.
View Profile
lovely00
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 67.
View Profile
chicky582
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 30.
View Profile
PhoenixLin
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 42.
View Profile
pesin15
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
MustLoveDogz
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 43.
View Profile
thrillsandfrills
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 41 and 45.
View Profile
iamclassy
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
HottFoxx
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
Lady66
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 55.
View Profile
Graciousheart
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 56.
View Profile
Ja9
I'm a 26 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 26 and 36.
View Profile
HoopvolleToekoms
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 39.
View Profile
supe24
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 65.
View Profile
veldmuis007
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
SATYNTJIE
I'm a 52 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
Gypsey4Life
I'm a 51 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
AM1234
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 46.
View Profile
dreamsoftly
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 58.
View Profile
MrsLAG
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 40.
View Profile
voelkos
I'm a 54 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 56.
View Profile
Lvit2C
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 39.
View Profile
Poppielap007
I'm a 23 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 29.
View Profile
bluemon
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Bubblegumskunk
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 43.
View Profile
Natz79
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Lulu_101
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 45.
View Profile
Sparkie92
I'm a 22 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 29.
View Profile
Chanex
I'm a 20 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 23 and 26.
View Profile
Boulderhopper
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 50.
View Profile
Isolabelle
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Dreamer1987
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
love_passionately
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Viv42
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 55.
View Profile
Tamtam31
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Comet43
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 54.
View Profile
00butterflygirl00
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 36.
View Profile
SKY248
I'm a 52 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 52.
View Profile
Liefterdiefter
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 63.
View Profile
Sugababe
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
Elyn1980
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 42.
View Profile
JustLooking69
I'm a 56 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
Mianli
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 40.
View Profile
Believer001
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 40.
View Profile
Smarag
I'm a 20 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 30.
View Profile
This_is_m3
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 50.
View Profile
butterflykisses14
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 31 and 51.
View Profile
blom788
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
KarooBoereMeisie
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
lookingsexy200
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 45.
View Profile
DelightfullyTipsy
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 38.
View Profile
Belind4_M
I'm a 19 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 19 and 30.
View Profile
CC82
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
FancyFace32
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 58.
View Profile
LuckyCharm_440
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 40.
View Profile
ContagiousLaughter
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 44.
View Profile
itu22
I'm a 22 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 37.
View Profile
Athena
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
Ldp123
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 58.
View Profile
Juliet8
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
AmaJ
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 42 and 50.
View Profile
Pretty_Nerd
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 37.
View Profile
stofvoetjie
I'm a 18 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 18 and 25.
View Profile
spangled_sparrow
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
girlnextdoor2014
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 53.
View Profile
noirsette
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
Diena_van_die_Eike
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 49 and 62.
View Profile
AGX
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 44.
View Profile
Sosialemeis2
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 46.
View Profile
Grace62
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 42.
View Profile
Charms1203
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Gem24
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
brokenheart2_cnb
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Lemoenbloeisel
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
KiTella
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 42.
View Profile
SkyLark67
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
KissFromARose
I'm a 58 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 64.
View Profile
Gem31
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Wonderer_0202
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
kim2702
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 50.
View Profile
OneWay
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 47.
View Profile
profile01
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 47.
View Profile
xine_414
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
_Alwayssmiling
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 41.
View Profile
kristella
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
DaffodilTulip
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
AngelBabe1
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 39.
View Profile
Rumrun
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 44 and 56.
View Profile
earthwormjim1968
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 48.
View Profile
TheRisingSun
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
Kawa1000
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Gster1
I'm a 64 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
saks001
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 47 and 59.
View Profile
gentlebutcrazy
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
LEO1982
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 40.
View Profile
cornrlius205
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 50.
View Profile
AJK1110
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 55.
View Profile
Woody777
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Fairtalk101
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
50pluslooking
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Venator
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 48.
View Profile
DoctorSpin
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
happymaker66
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Pete_1
I'm a 70 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
tigercat
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 22 and 54.
View Profile
WagOngeduldig
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
boersoekvrou14
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
Apalis23
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 39 and 48.
View Profile
Lifechanger_7
I'm a 25 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 30.
View Profile
Holomig
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 36.
View Profile
honeybush_ht
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
virgo5
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
MAX_33
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 33 and 53.
View Profile
letslook
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
drurie
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 60 and 66.
View Profile
Double_N
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 50.
View Profile
longingforu
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 38.
View Profile
ch_nb
I'm a 28 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 45.
View Profile
Virion
I'm a 30 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 33.
View Profile
CapeLover
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 41 and 50.
View Profile
Boereman
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
arew
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 55.
View Profile
peyton515
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 46.
View Profile
Soulsearcher72
I'm a 42 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
rio77
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
GenuineJ
I'm a 64 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 64.
View Profile
MysticKitesurfer
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 27 and 36.
View Profile
Kenfisha123
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Geard1977
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 27 and 38.
View Profile
philip_unplugged514
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 65.
View Profile
Espavo
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 48.
View Profile
matiekat
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
umustbsomewhere
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
LoveFriendFirst123
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 72.
View Profile
sailor_X897
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 60.
View Profile
oth1982
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Bushbaby210
I'm a 27 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 21 and 35.
View Profile
rossi46
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
bellagio
I'm a 69 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
oldschool_romantic
I'm a 26 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 19 and 31.
View Profile
B_B_B
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 45.
View Profile
Jurgy62
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 37 and 55.
View Profile
Eugene053
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Summerstorm_007
I'm a 60 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 58.
View Profile
Breukes
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 26 and 35.
View Profile
JONGKEREL
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 49 and 55.
View Profile
srchinluv
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 46 and 65.
View Profile
Free_Spirited
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
MF__802
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 40.
View Profile
annns
I'm a 51 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 56.
View Profile
Deipnosophist
I'm a 40 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
QuietDreamer
I'm a 34 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Romanticseb
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 57.
View Profile
Carden
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 30.
View Profile
IceDad66
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
JustJve99
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 45.
View Profile
Liefasb
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
Determined_69
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 47.
View Profile
Rich_H
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 48.
View Profile
Rick1508
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 49.
View Profile
TheDuke_99
I'm a 36 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 42.
View Profile
WieEnWaar
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
Rebelinbluejeans
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 62.
View Profile
Stream_Net
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 33.
View Profile
WanderingShadow
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 40.
View Profile
Glorious_Quest
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 45.
View Profile
maybe_111
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 23 and 39.
View Profile
TheRealPeterPan
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
OldGoat4400
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 48.
View Profile
skyandsand
I'm a 31 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
BobTheExtremeBuilder
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 47.
View Profile
Marley77
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
Btt76
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 42.
View Profile
cloudhopper
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Ben_57
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 55.
View Profile
niemandsland
I'm a 30 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 45.
View Profile
Yinyani
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 55.
View Profile
waitingforgodot
I'm a 68 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 53 and 60.
View Profile
Stressfree
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
MOOLMAN
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 62.
View Profile
big_guy_soft_heart
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
koolstoof55
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 63.
View Profile
Kent123
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
LiveLifeAlways
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 33 and 41.
View Profile
deeptime
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 58.
View Profile

Business Directory