jeudi 28 juillet 2011

Laurent Lamothe: an entrepreneur committed to socio-economic development

Laurent Lamothe

Laurent Lamothe ranks, without a doubt, among the most dynamic and visionary Haitian entrepreneurs of his generation. In 1998, at the age of only twenty-six, he co-founded the company Global Voice Group with his partner Patrice Baker. Together, they rapidly developed this small enterprise into one of the world’s foremost providers of advanced solutions for the management and regulation of telecommunications.

Origins, family and career beginnings

Born on August 14, 1972 in Port-au-Prince, Laurent Lamothe was raised in an upper-middle-class Haitian family. Son of well-known artist-painter Ghislaine Fortuney Lamothe and distinguished intellectual and Spanish literature authority, Louis G. Lamothe, he demonstrated exceptional aptitude for both athletics and academics from a very early age. Like his brother Ruben, a former captain of the Haitian Davis Cup team, the young Laurent excelled at tennis. At twelve years old, he was already classed among the best hopes of the country he would proudly represent a decade later at the Davis Cup competitions of 1994-95.

Outstanding on the tennis courts, Laurent Lamothe also distinguished himself as a student. At nineteen, he left his native Port-au-Prince to take up studies at Barry University in Miami, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science. Subsequently admitted to Saint Thomas University in 1996, he completed a brilliant academic career by earning a master’s degree, with honourable mention, in business management.

The entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism he showed over the course of the subsequent decade led, in May 2008, to his being named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the firm Ernst and Young.

Father of two daughters, Linka and Lara, Laurent Lamothe firmly believes that today’s businesses must eschew a management philosophy focused uniquely on the search for short-term profit; they need, always, to consider the impact their activities make upon future generations as well.

Having himself grown up in a country overwhelmed by poverty and a lack of natural resources at all levels, the Haitian businessman developed, over the course of his life, a profound sense of social responsibility and a desire to lend assistance to the less fortunate. Entrepreneur above all, he remained, for a long time, removed from the political scene in his native country. Beyond party politics, Laurent Lamothe sees himself rather as a “pragmatist” who favours concrete solutions to Haiti’s needs. It was from this perspective that he became involved in the electoral campaign of his longtime friend Michel Joseph Martelly, in the spring of 2011.

Laurent Lamothe has recently been appointed to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. As a Haitian citizen and new member of this commission, the entrepreneur says he’s “more than ever committed to the well-being and development” of his native country.

Global Voice Group

Originally, the enterprise founded by Laurent Lamothe and Patrice Baker specialized in providing advanced services and solutions to fixed and mobile telephone network operators. When the mobile market began its rapid expansion in the emerging countries, the Haitian entrepreneur was quick to anticipate and satisfy the need of these operators for quality outsourcing.

Beginning in 2000, the liberalization of the telecommunications sector in several emerging countries revealed a new category of needs that Laurent Lamothe and Patrice Baker were among the first to perceive. The regulatory organizations newly created by governments to regulate and oversee a sector undergoing tremendous expansion were technologically overwhelmed by the rapid evolution in telecommunications, at both a local and an international scale. The sector’s principal product, that is, the volume of calls, which generates the bulk of its revenues, was beyond their control. International telephone fraud, principally via sim-boxes and the Internet, was proliferating at an alarming rate. Tariff inequalities were exacerbated on the opaque international interconnectivity market, to the detriment of emerging countries, particularly those in Africa.

 Laurent Lamothe and Patrice Baker’s great innovation was to introduce telecom governance technologies in Africa that permit the authority to effectively regulate the sector in terms of control, tariff equity and transparency. In this domain, Lamothe and Baker figure as pioneers.

Even though, in principle, the nature of the approach proposed by Laurent Lamothe defends the interests of local network operators in the emerging countries, it made him a controversial figure, in spite of himself. This approach implied an intervention by the State in countries where it was deemed necessary to protect the local telecom industry and increase its support for socio-economic development. Yet, the network operators, particularly those in the emerging countries where telephony had recently been liberalized, were in fact reluctant to any form of state intervention. The telecom grey economy, more and more evident in Africa where illegal operators thrive, has even greater fear of such an intervention, with its inevitable, effective anti-fraud measures.

Short of valid arguments against the legitimacy of the governance solutions developed by Global Voice Group, opponents increased their personal attacks against Laurent Lamothe, leading to a number of defamation suits during the past several years. Rarely has a Haitian entrepreneur been so admired by some and so slandered by others.

Laurent Lamothe, the young tennis player, brought honour to his country during his Davis Cup days, though he met with honourable defeat. It might be said now that Laurent Lamothe, the accomplished entrepreneur, has brought honour upon himself again by propelling a Haitian company of modest origins to world-class success.

3 commentaires:

  1. Congratulations on being named to the Presidential Advisory Council in Haiti.

    CementTrust has issued a challenge for you when you attend the launch in New York...

  2. I'm proud of you as a tremendous human being for taking the haitian fight to the next level.I'm also convinced that after the success of these five years to impliment structures for real modern changes in Haiti,you will be the next president of Haiti,and I will bet my life saving on you.
    Mr laurent May God bless and protect you.
    Keep up the good work!!!
    Jacques Raphael Marcellus,observer.

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