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My Journey to RARA Technologies: From Doctor to Manager to Entrepreneur by Hervé Rakoto Razafimbahiny, M.D. After returning to France two years ago after a twenty-year absence, my former colleagues and friends from my hospital days wanted to know what I had done during all those years. When I met with one of them, Doctor Tony Hawat, in February this year, after telling him the story, he realized he had forgotten to record what I had said to share with all our other colleagues and friends who were now living and working all over France. Here is the story I shared with him. It is really about the good fortune of meeting some extraordinary people and the masters in business who made me want to do more and always strive to do better while seizing new opportunities as they came my way.

My Journey to Rara Technologies Final Draft 20 December 2016

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My Journey to RARA Technologies:From Doctor to Manager to Entrepreneur


Herv Rakoto Razafimbahiny, M.D.

After returning to France two years ago after a twenty-year absence, my former colleagues and friends from my hospital days wanted to know what I had done during all those years. When I met with one of them, Doctor Tony Hawat, in February this year, after telling him the story, he realized he had forgotten to record what I had said to share with all our other colleagues and friends who were now living and working all over France. Here is the story I shared with him. It is really about the good fortune of meeting some extraordinary people and the masters in business who made me want to do more and always strive to do better while seizing new opportunities as they came my way.

1. Violence in the World and its Victims

Violence in all its forms is all around us. During my work in the ER of several hospitals in Northern France, we would treat cases of domestic violence, occasional stabbings, rare shootings, fist fights and car accidents. I was not prepared for political violence, torture, or civil conflict and war. This is what my colleagues and I were confronted with when, in 1993, we joined the joint United Nations/Organization of American States International Civilian Mission to Haiti (MICIVIH). The missions mandate was to monitor the human rights situation in this Caribbean nation following the ouster of the democratically-elected president in a military coup two years earlier. At the time, there were many victims of political violence, killings, forced disappearances, torture, and rapes and our role was to document these violations of human rights. A special unit that I belonged to within the mission, the Medical Unit, was formed to give first aid and facilitate the care for these victims by a network of Haitian health professionals and medical facilities. After the restoration of the democratic government at the end of 1994, Dr. Ccile Marotte, an ethno-psychiatrist and a student of George Devereux joined our team. Dr. Marotte brought the mental health dimension to our work. We also asked many Haitian professionals from other fields to collaborate with us and constitute a multi-disciplinary team to try to understand dictatorship and political violence in the context of Haiti, the Caribbean and Latin America. This diversity of perspectives would help us better address the needs of victims in terms of holistic care. I personally did not really know much about human rights even though I did learn from many of my amazing colleagues in the mission who had worked for years with Amnesty International. When the Medical Unit closed in February 1996, I had the opportunity to study with Professor Jonathan Mann at the Franois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights in Boston. After conducting field research and presenting the results in a conference, Dr. Marotte and I submitted an unsolicited proposal to USAID, the U.S Agency for International Development, to set up a community clinic for survivors of violence in Haiti. USAID awarded us a grant and we joined the Human Rights Fund where we initiated a program of rehabilitation for victims of violence, including a special program for women and children. In doing so, we were very fortunate to collaborate with extraordinary people: Tiga, the renowned painter and co-founder of the Saint Soleil School; Doctor Louis Roy, the first Ombudsman of Haiti (Protecteur du Citoyen); and Professor Raymond Chassagne, a poet and education specialist. The victims themselves taught us one of the best lessons we would ever learn. They told us that the best part of the program came from the legal counseling and the opportunity to speak to a lawyer who would document the case and this was what helped them the most in relieving their trauma and suffering. For those of us who were health professionals on the team, it was a humbling experience.

In 2001, as a consultant for the Minneapolis-based Center for Victims of Torture, I worked with other teams in South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Guinea. I had the chance to meet more extraordinary professionals and I was able to understand and learn from their work in other regions of the world that had also experienced political violence and conflict. From 2007 to 2013, I was back in Haiti and our team would care for women and girls victims of gender-based violence and for children and girls victims of trafficking, particularly children and girls in servitude or restavks, children forced into prostitution, street children, children in camps and the children orphaned and displaced after the January 2010 earthquake. Security was key even when the state institutions were weak. After an attack, victims only feel safe if the justice system works even it only works at the local level: municipal authorities, local police, local judges, local hospital, local lawyers, local doctors, nurses and social workers, and NGOs working together to apply the law and send to jail those responsible for this violence. Despite some progress, violence continues. It is now mostly criminal and domestic, rarely political. Yet, so much of it is also violence against women just because they are women. It is a universal problem. The widespread attacks against women online remind us each day how much work is still ahead of us for all of us.

2. Learning from the Masters in Business

In the summer of 1997, USAID asked me to replace the Human Rights Fund project director. Dr. Ira Lowenthal, Senior Advisor and my colleague at the Americas Development Foundation (ADF), a private foundation based in Alexandria, VA, and Henderson Patrick, the Senior Project Officer at USAID became my mentors and were the first ones to help me become a manager. USAID was at the time going through a period of re-engineering and it was all about results-based management. I was lucky to receive training in this area and also in strategic planning, team building, and financial management. Alongside the training and mentoring I got, I literally devoured all the books written by Peter Drucker, the management guru, I could get my hands on and also thanks to the many mistakes I made, I slowly got better at management although it remains a work in progress. As a manager and with our team, we were then able to build the right organization able to care for a greater number of people, including the many women and children who had survived horrendous violence. While our medical and legal teams worked day-to-day with victims, thanks to Mr. Drucker, I slowly began to learn what you have to do on a daily basis beginning with understanding the big picture, selecting the best people for the team, planning together the strategy and the work, and then delivering the best results. I also learned about delegating and giving my colleagues all the freedom, the skills and support they needed to do the best possible job. Then we also learned as a team to track, be responsible, and be accountable for the results, especially about being fiscally responsible for US taxpayers money, more than 250 million USD in total over the years, something I was always able to do and report on. Then, we also learned how to anticipate and prepare for when times are difficult. When you hit a wall with any of the processes in place, about 10% of the time, you can resort to the common sense solution. It actually works.

Since my first days as a manager back in 1997, I have also chosen many role models who have been with me at all times since then. I called this my Role-Models MBA since I could not take time out and I could not afford to study management formally in a business school. My role models and many books and articles supported me along the way. I still remember three books in particular: Nuts!: Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin & Jackie Freiberg; Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonalds by Ray Kroc; and Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Sir Richard Branson. From my school days and working as a doctor in emergency medicine in France, I loved to work and always enjoyed my work, whatever it was that I had to do. There is a witty saying about this by Ray Kroc, the creator of the modern McDonalds: Work is the meat in the hamburger of life. Two other books also helped me understand the bigger picture, one by John Kay on how rich countries became successful: Culture and Prosperity: Why some nations are rich but most remain poor. The other one was by C.K. Prahalads The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits about the many opportunities for creating wealth in emerging markets. Perhaps as important as learning during the fifteen years or so I worked for American companies, I did create a lot of new value for these companies and at the same time, even though we were working in dangerous places, our teams managed to do the work and to keep everyone safe. In the process of creating value for our companies, we also succeeded in creating both social and economic value for the many partners we worked with in North America and in many emerging countries.

3. Becoming An Entrepreneur

Of all the extraordinary people I met in this part of my life, three were quite influential in me becoming an entrepreneur. The first one is Jack Healey. He is Irish-American, a former Peace Corps Director in Lesotho during the apartheid years in South Africa, and the former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. When we met for the first time in early 1998, he was and he still is today the President of the Human Rights Action Center in Washington DC. He had come to do an evaluation of our program in Haiti at the time and within the first five minutes of our first meeting, we became friends. A few months later during his second visit, he was the first one to tell me that I should start my own company to be able to reach millions of customers this way instead of the few thousands of people we were reaching at the time. I did not even think it possible at the time and it only became possible in my mind with time passing and when I became a resident in the United States and later a US citizen. I was a long way away from Madagascar where most of my family still resides.

The second extraordinary person I met ten years later was Attorney Gerda Bien Aim, a human rights lawyer and President of the Fddation des Femmes du Bas Artibonite (FEFBA or Womens Federation of the Lower Artibonite), a womens organization based in Saint Marc, Haiti. Attorney Bien Aim taught me that the key to development at the community level are organization and wealth creation. The women assisted by FEFBA were survivors of rape and/or domestic violence. They would tell me that once they became economically independent, the violence against them in the home would stop. With their sustainable incomes, they were then able to pay for a roof over their heads, put food on the table, send all the children to school, and be able to afford healthcare when they needed it.

The third extraordinary person was Agronomist Pierre Lger who is the President of Frager-Vetiver S.A., based in Les Cayes, Haiti. Frager-Vetiver S.A. is the worlds largest producer and exporter of vetiver oil used in the perfume industry. I had met Agronomist Lger in an international human rights conference we had co-organized with the Ombudsmans Office in Haiti (OPC or Office de la Protection du Citoyen) in 2008 and in which Agronomist Lger was in charge of a panel on economic freedom. Agronomist Lger explained his business philosophy of Business for Development using the private sector instead of foreign for economic development in poor countries aid and how countries rich in resources like Haiti and Madagascar (the country not the animation) could create value for everyone through investments in private sector companies just like what he had done with vetiver. His company has been employing 27,000 families in the South of Haiti for over two decades. He also encouraged me to start my own company but then, in January 2010, a 7.1 earthquake struck Haiti. Consequently, we all needed to get involved in the emergency relief and recovery efforts so our plans had to be put on hold.

4. The Vision of RARA Technologies

When two start-ups with some of my former colleagues failed in 2011 and 2012, and after I was fired from my job in 2013, I decided it was time to jump off the bridge and start my own company. I registered RARA Technologies in Las Vegas, NV, on July 7, 2014, and after putting together a team, a strategy, and all the documents we needed, I began giving presentations to potential partners. The RARA Group of companies will offer customers products and services in: software and mobile apps, entertainment, food services, financial services and online education. RARA Technologies is the first of five companies we plan to start in the next five to ten years. The companies will be launched one at a time with RARA Technologies being the first one because it brings everything together and makes everything else possible. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal once wrote Technology is miraculous because it allows us to do more with less, ratcheting up our fundamental capabilities to a higher level. RARA Technologies aims to design and develop customized software and mobile applications for our customers. The main difficulty for our team has been to find the right people to work with. Over the past few months, we have been in talks with several potential partners and, in September, we reached a tentative deal with two British angel investors. However, our goal is to find an angel group able not only to support our company but also able to advise and mentor our team for the first five to ten years. Within the first year, we will develop ten prototypes and submit the patent applications and launch our platform to showcase our team and our spirit and what we are doing. We are aiming at niche markets in both emerging countries and rich countries and we are aiming at creating economic opportunities for our customers through digital solutions. Based on our previous work, we already have more than 2 million potential customers within the first 4 to 5 years and we hope to reach anywhere between 10 and 50 million customers within 10 years once we are on social media. We asked the customers we know all sorts of questions and we have listened. The best part is that we now know what they want.

Our strategy is simple. First, we have to treat all people well and with love and respect beginning with our own team. The best way to do that is by creating a unique culture where our most important values are integrity, humility, diversity, respect, trust, and shared success. As Herb Kelleher, the co-founder of Southwest Airlines, one of the best companies in the world to work for, once said Your spirit is the most powerful thing of all. Second, we have to have perfect customer service, just like Southwest, Trader Joes, Nordstrom, Zappos, or Virgin and others. Third, we have to keep our costs low and become profitable as soon as possible and stay profitable. We also understand the world is rapidly changing with all its challenges but also with all its opportunities. World population is going to increase by more than 2 billion people in 2050 and most of the wealth created between now and then will be in emerging countries. Since we will be even more connected by mobile technology and the internet, more and more people will want to have all of this at the tip of their fingers 24/7. With the RARA Group of companies, that is exactly what we plan to do by collaborating across borders and creating jobs and wealth in emerging countries as well as is rich countries. We have the local knowledge. We also have local partners in many places and we have some knowledge and understanding of our globalized world.

We have a great senior management team made up of twelve people who have worked together before and who come from many countries: Canada, Haiti, USA, Chile, Colombia, France, the UK, Israel, Cte dIvoire, and Madagascar. Weve followed the advice of Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of Salesforce, the cloud computing company, when he recommended that half the staff should be women. At RARA Technologies, half of our senior management team are women. As we evolve, each of the companies will be funded and managed independently. Our team will be able to do it because in all the work we have accomplished to date, we have always strived to behave ethically and in the words of Sir Richard Branson, the chairman of the Virgin Group, Ethics arent just important in business. They are the whole point of business.

So if you just want to learn more about our work and our plans, or if you are interested in partnering with us, we would love to hear from you. Please remember, we want to treat all people well and we want to share our success so if you are able to help us become successful, you will also be successful. You will also be part of a great team and part of an amazing new adventure. We all believe we are part of the future. We aim to be a global company with local roots in many communities around the world and in Peter Thiels words Theres no reason why the future should happen only at Stanford, or in college, or in Silicon Valley. We will make the future happen in many new and exciting places. We invite you to come on board and join us on this journey to RARA Technologies and much, much more.


La violence et ses retombes mentales en Hati by Ccile Marottein AlterPresse December 14, 2005http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article3778#.WDxfElzt8V4 Health and Human Rights by Jonathan Mann, Lawrence Gostin, Sofia Gruskin, Troyen Brennan, Zita Lazzarini, & Harvey Fineberg in Health and Human Rights Journal Vol. 1 No. 1 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Fall 1994)https://cdn2.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2014/03/4-Mann.pdf

My Role Models MBA by Herv Rakoto Razafimbahinyhttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-role-models-mba-herve-rakoto-razafimbahiny?trk=mp-author-card

Interview About Jack Healey by Stinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hf9Du7vaaE

Gerda Bien-Aim: Allez toujours plus loin! by Winnie H. Gabriel Duvilin Le Nouvelliste July 17, 2015http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/147276/Gerda-Bien-Aime-Aller-toujours-plus-loin

Hati: premier exportateur de vtiver by Tania Oscarin Challenges September 18, 2015https://challengesnews.com/haiti-premier-exportateur-mondial-de-vetiver/

Herb Kelleher: The Thought Leader Interview by Chuck Lucier in Strategy+Business June 1, 2004http://www.strategy-business.com/article/04212?gko=8cb4f

Southwests Herb Kelleher: Still crazy after all these years by Jennifer Reingold in Fortune Magazine January 14, 2013http://fortune.com/2013/01/14/southwests-herb-kelleher-still-crazy-after-all-these-years/

How SAS Became Worlds Best Place To Work by Mark C. Crowley in Fast Company on January 22, 2013https://www.fastcompany.com/3004953/how-sas-became-worlds-best-place-work

Oprah Winfrey Interview: Americas Beloved Best Friend in Academy of Achievement February 21, 1991http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/win0int-1

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters (Crown Publishing Group: New York, N.Y., 2014)

The Fortune at The Bottom Of The Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits by C.K. Prahalad (Pearson Education, Inc.: Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2010).

Culture and Prosperity: Why Some Nations Are Rich but Most Remain Poor by John Kay (Harper-Collins Publishers Inc.: New York, 2005).

The World in 2050: From the Top 30 to the Top 100 by Karen Ward (HSBC Global Research: Global Economics, January 2012).

Worlds Economic Centre Shifting Back to Asia at Unbelievable Speed: McKinsey Institute by Daniel Tencer in The Huffington Post Canada July 5, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/05/world-economic-center-of-gravity_n_1651730.html

2052: A global forecast for the next forty years by Jorgen Randers in The Future in Practice: The State of Sustainability Leadership 2012 (Cambridge University: Cambridge, 2012). http://www.2052.info/

New World Order: Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy by Eric Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee & Michael Spence. in Foreign Affairs July/August 2014 (New York: Council on Foreign Affairs, 2014).https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2014-06-04/new-world-order