Haiti is rising from the recent setbacks and misfortunes that hit it. This time, it is aiming to get into the domain where no one would think it would get into. The least developed nation in the Western Hemisphere has a high ambition and it is now starting on its way to achieve that. It obviously makes it a new goal to penetrate the high-tech industry. The first step it took is to develop and manufacture its own Android tablet.
A Haitian startup is attracting attention these days. That is because it has developed its own low-cost tablet, which it calls Sûrtab. The name of the high-tech product was derived from the French adjective ‘sûr,’ which means ‘sure.’ Obviously, the small company is suggesting the reliability of its product.
The startup is the first of its kind to rise within the industrial park in Port-au-Prince, where local textile factories abound. Unlike its neighboring textile factories, the maker of Sûrtab is equipping its workers with soldering irons instead of sewing machines. Its 40 employees are all dressed in white working clothes and hair net.
Starting from scratch
The Haitian tablet maker was a beneficiary of a $200,000 startup fund handed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Initially, it is using components imported from Asia. The factory currently produces three different tablet models, each with 7-inch screen. All products are running on Google Inc’s Android operating system.
The tablets range from a simple Wi-Fi tablet worth about $100 in the market to a 3G tablet that commands a $285 price tag. Obviously, Sûrtab is aiming at market segments that can’t afford the popular tablets like Apple Inc’s iPad, which is barely available in Haiti for obvious reasons and is much more expensive in comparison to the local brand.
Why Sûrtab is interesting
The Haitian factory has other interesting factors. First, it employs women as it believes that female workers are more reliable and more patient than men. Second, there is no production line in the facility because each worker assembles her own tablet from start to finish. Third, the employees are paid salaries that are thrice larger than the average salary rate in Haiti. Thus, its employees are happy and motivated.
Each woman worker usually assembles a device from 35 minutes to an hour, depending on the model. Thus, the startup company is producing about 4,000 to 5,000 units of tablets each month. It aims to double that capacity in April. Lastly, the Haitian firm aims to eventually export Sûrtab. It is that confident that the Haiti-made product would compete well in the market, especially in emerging markets.