“I see myself as the next face of disruptive technology that impacts lives. The next time you think of Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Elon Musk or Muhamad Yunus, I will be there too.”
This is the dream of Christine, who has, at 26, already achieved a great deal. Born in NYC, and raised in Haiti, she currently lives in Dubai and runs her own startup, Venedy. Venedy digitises the street vending industry via mobile technology. Having come from a familial line of street vendors (her mother, grandmother and aunts), and having been one herself, she has a personal connection to the industry and a great desire to help vendors improve their business worldwide. She was able to travel to 30 countries, on a Bill Gates Scholarship, to track the stories of street vendors. Her initiative has allowed her to meet global leaders such as President Barack Obama and Mohammad Yunus. So successful has her venture been, she is now a finalist, and the sole remaining U.S. contestant, in a global social impact competition with a prize valued at US$1million (You can help her in the final stages of winning that prize by voting for her here.
Her journey to her current successes has not been easy though. She explains, “My parents struggled working between jobs so I’ve lived in close to a dozen places. I lost my Papa last year and I literally became a different person. I was numb to feeling, sceptical of love, friendship and hope. Losing my Papa was the worst experience of my life….but he died by his own terms, in his country- Haiti, in his sleep, with me by his side- so he wasn’t alone. It’s funny how many people stand with you when times are good and how lonely it is when times are bad. At the time I was still trying to raise funding for my startup, and was being hit with racism, sexism and skeptisim at every turn. I had to hide my depression because I was both leading a broken family, my mom and 8 year old baby brother, and was leading a team of 4 people for my startup.”
Picking herself up and moving forward wasn’t easy, but she was able to do it through reflection, letting go and bonding with those who really matter, like her mother and brother. “At the end of the day, we don’t hold the mind of God and do not need to understand why things are the way they are. It took me months to get to this point. It’s still a slow process but it is a powerful thing if you can just let go.” When asked what advice she’d give to aspiring others, she said, “Think of the legends of our time, the people we talk about for generations across different cultures. None of them had it easy. It was in their struggle they found strengths. I’ve learned to use my pain as my power all of my life and the biggest advice I can give someone is to learn to reflect, let go, and turn your pain into your power. And more importantly, don’t put a deadline on greatness. Expecting fast results will only disappoint further. Keep pushing: Amazing things will happen.”