In 2009, a small group of women from northern Haiti formed an organization they called "Asosyasyon Peyizan Fanm Nan Milot" or "The Peasant Women's Association of Milot". Their goal was to provide member with a platform of solidarity for social and economic growth. They met often to work on quilting and sewing projects they could sell to tourists and visitors to Haiti. However, despite their drive and determination to create a better life, most were unable to source the quality materials to sell their finished goods.
When Haiti's devastating earthquake struck in January 2010, many of these women rushed to help the injured arriving from Port-au-Prince. Many of the hospitals near the epicenter were either badly damaged or already overflowing, forcing many to make the difficult journey north, through rugged mountains, to the renowned Hôpital Sacré Coeur. The women worked tirelessly for days to care for the injured and comfort grieving families. A chance meeting with volunteers lead to the first training seminar held in November 2010 and ultimately the formation of The Women of Milot Entrepreneurial Network (W.O.M.E.N.)
Throughout 2011, W.O.M.E.N. organized more training seminars while identifying marketable products to be made and purchase equipment and materials to set up individually managed co-ops in more rural areas to include women who lived too far away to commute daily. This lead the our current structure of creating independent cooperatives that allow each co-op leader to build her own business at home and in her own community.
By 2012, W.O.M.E.N.'s work was already becoming known throughout Haiti and were invited to display their handmade goods at the opening of the Caracol Industrial Park.
In 2014, W.O.M.E.N. partnered with The Haven Partnership, an Irish organization that focused on building homes and providing clean water, to expand its reach as far as Gonaives to develop new products and increase sales.
In 2015, The Haven Partnership provided a newly built workshop for the Gonaives Co-op that had named itself, "Les Femmes D'Espoir Des Gonaives" or "The Women of Hope of Gonaives".
2016 brought big news when W.O.M.E.N. received a grant from Project LEVE and USAID that helped fund a larger workspace and boutik, extended product development, allowed for the purchase of new sewing machines and more materials and expanded training into the Labadie and Fort Bourgeois area.
In early 2018 WOMEN took over Haiti Babi after its founders pulled out of Haiti. Haiti Babi makes beautiful quality hand-knit and crochet baby blankets and hats.
By the end of 2018 and into 2019 political turmoil in Haiti began to once again devastate the country. Manifestations (protests or riots) became the norm, roads became blocked without warning, hotels and restaurants closed, electricity was nearly non-existent and diesel and gas were often scarce. As a result, many of our co-op members were afraid to set out to the workshop to pick up or drop off work for fear they would happen upon one of the many manifestations that rose up without warning and not be able to return home. It was simply too dangerous to travel. The project has suffered as a result but by the end of 2019, the situation began to improve.
In 2020 it's still too early to tell if all with remain calm throughout Haiti but we are working to reconnect with our members and ramp up production to meet demand.