Two tech companies have launched rival ventures to build Android tablets in Haiti, a country with little recent experience in electronics manufacturing.
Startups Surtab SA and Handxom SA began production last month and plan to sell the 7-inch touchscreen devices to phone stores nationwide and markets overseas.
Surtab says it has already sold hundreds of tablets to customers including Haiti’s education and planning ministries and mobile phone giant Digicel, which sells the tablets in its stores.
Handxom plans to open a showroom next month in the Port-au-Prince area and project manager Jimmy Jacques said the company has already sold 300 units in the past 2 weeks.
The owners of both companies say their businesses show that Haiti is capable of manufacturing more than just clothing, while also paying people decent wages.
“We can do high quality products here not just T-shirts, but something with a little more value, which can allow us to pay our workers better and create a different type of economy than what’s been the case,” said CEO Maarten Boute, who worked until 2012 as the CEO for Digicel’s Haiti office.
Haiti once had an electronic assembly sector, but a U.N.-imposed embargo in the 1990s forced many of the companies to close.