Written by: Dan Ravenhorst, Accounting and Finance Manager – Heartline Ministries
Running a business in Haiti is extremely difficult due to the many unknown challenges that arise each day. But the crew at the Heartline Beltis Bakery knows how to push forward and get the job done.
This month marks the five year anniversary of Heartline’s Beltis Bakery!
What started as a small program for men to learn Christian work ethic and integrity, has turned into a sustainable Haitian business. The bakery currently employs 16 individuals, empowering them with reliable income to help support their families. Still guided by Christian principles, you will often find the group gathered for prayer in the mornings with Heartline’s Discipleship Team, thanking God for His daily provisions.
Operating six days per week, the bakery now utilizes over 700 pounds of flour each day. The staff produces several types of bread, chicken pate, and pizza that are sold to the local community. In addition to providing food for the community, the bakery also partners with Heartline’s Discipleship and Outreach program by providing bread for the team’s ministry with local prisons, an elderly home, and children with disabilities.
The Beltis Bakery has a huge impact on the local community, but even more so for the men and women that keep it running. Montfleury Philippe and Sejour Jerguens are two bakery employees who have been around since it’s opening. Philippe currently makes all of the chicken pate and pizza.
“This bakery allows me to send my children to school each year,” Philippe said. “I enjoy watching the customers purchasing the product I make for them each day.”
Jerguens, who handles the bread distribution to the street, agreed that the bakery has given him the opportunity to send his children to school, but also knows the bakery’s significance within the community. “The customers are here everyday looking for fresh bread. Even when it rains, they keep coming,” Jerguens said.
For Metzler Claude, the bakery has become a family. Claude manages bakery operations and understands the importance of the work they do. “We spend more time together here than with our own families, but we know our families appreciate our work so we can provide for them,” said Claude. “We understand each other and work together to make good products for the community. The bakery provides the first meal for many people in our community and that is very important to us.”
In August, The Beltis Bakery celebrated their highest sales and production month – but this milestone didn’t come without hardship.
Earlier this year, a government mandated road widening project forced Heartline to tear down a wall along the exterior of the ministry’s property. This wall was a part of the bakery, and the staff had to relocate their entire operation to a different location on the property. The crew knew that closing the bakery for even a few days or weeks would have negative effects on the business and their community. They banded together and worked tirelessly to move equipment and inventory. In just one day, the bakery was up and running and bread was coming out of the ovens again!
Then in July, unrest broke out throughout the country of Haiti over rising fuel prices. Some businesses were destroyed and food sources were scarce for five days. The bakery crew was able to gather and open earlier than most businesses to provide food on the street once again.
Another significant challenge has been the rising cost of ingredients. The bakery remains committed to selling an affordable, high quality product and the staff is developing new strategies to combat the rising prices.
As we celebrate the five year anniversary of the Beltis Bakery, we not only celebrate the success of the bakery in becoming a sustainable business, but also the many lives that are positively impacted! We give thanks for the men and women who receive the bakery’s bread in prison, for the mother who is able to purchase food from the bakery to feed her children, and for the bakery employees and what this reliable income means to their families at home.
We’re all looking forward to another five years of Heartline Beltis Bakery bread!
We invite you to leave a message of encouragement and congratulations for the bakery staff in the comments below!