Many AU alumni use their experiences to propel themselves to new worlds. One alumnus used his to give back to his own. Marc Alain Boucicault, CAS/MA ’15, is a native of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. His project, Groupe ECHO Haiti, is a youth organization he co-founded after returning to his home country after his time at American. He has been able to create programs bolstering the entrepreneurial minds in his home country, specifically that of the youth. Marc Alain had never spent significant time in the US when he was selected for the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, which allowed him to pursue graduate education stateside. Intending to study development economics, he enrolled at American University’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“When I met some great friends, they helped me realize what I actually wanted to do,” he says. Marc Alain realized he had an affinity for finance, and switched his education track to financial economic policy.
Upon graduation, Marc Alain returned to Haiti and a new position at the Inter-American Development Bank, where he is now an operations analyst. During his time there, he and his colleagues created the first youth-led venture capital fund in Haiti. “The objective of this fund is to create opportunities for innovators to create startups in the country,” he says. “We did our first investment in a small-medium enterprise that worked in the field of agribusiness in cocoa transformation. Our goal is to bring money and add our sweat equity gained through strategic advice and network money in the company to allow it to grow and manage production.”
Through this, Marc Alain discovered there was something more he could do to help Haiti’s youth. Under Groupe ECHO he began ELAN Haiti, a three-day conference that brings youth from around the world to Haiti, having them do entrepreneurial projects and creating an ecosystem for innovation in the country. “The participants who are coming are competitively selected. We had 420 applicants, and out of those we selected 100. They come from all over to Haiti to network and discuss development issues with influential leaders,” Marc Alain says.
For his efforts, Marc Alain was nominated for the Haiti Numerique 2030 Award, an honor given to individuals who advance technology industry in the country. He reflects on this honor by reiterating his passion for empowering Haiti’s youth.“Officials in Haiti still treat the youth as a problem that needs to be solved. These issues are real, but when these young people come together and work towards a goal, they can create a better Haiti," Marc Alain says. "This work doesn’t deal with the Haiti of today, it’s dealing with the Haiti of 10-20 years from now. People should invest in any initiative that connects and empower youth and changes the world.”