One Tablet Per Haitian

Surtab´s Made-in-Haiti touchscreen tablets may help blaze a trail back to electronics manufacturing in the country

Sept19-2013HaitiDreams1In a country with a manufacturing sector known for producing cheap
t-shirts, tablet-maker Surtab is a small effort at producing a big-value
product. “We really want to re-establish Haiti as a destination for
appliances and electronics manufacturing,” says Maarten Boute, Surtab´s
38-year-old Belgian CEO. “We put the bar very high doing tablets.”

For three years, Boute ran the Haiti division of cell phone giant Digicel,
the largest company in the country. In 2005, the year Digicel acquired a
license to operate in Haiti, there were 500,000 total mobile phone
subscriptions. Today, there are 6 million, and Digicel dominates the
Haitian telecom landscape. Boute sees huge potential to sell affordable
tablets to a growing local consumer class as well as people in other
developing countries. In Haiti, the education sector, government, and
thousands of NGOs working in the country are also attractive potential

Surtab filled its first order in August – 600 Wi-Fi-only tablets for a
Kenyan law university whose students will carry around one device instead
of reams of legal documents. The company makes two versions of its 7-inch
tablets, both of which run the Android operating system. Almost all of the
components come from China. The wholesale price of the lower-end Wi-Fi
model will be about $70*. The other version, which Boute estimates will
wholesale for $129, has 3G capability, dual SIM cards, and runs on a much
faster dual-core processor. The company is currently working on an order
for a Haitian university and has garnered interest from the Prime
Minister´s office, other local schools and companies, and a handful of
foreign organizations.

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About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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