Michelle Jean is the CEO and a co-founder of Zesa Raw, a social impact start-up company which imports and distributes fair trade, organic hand-milled unrefined sugar, high altitude coffee, and cocoa from small-scale farmers in Haiti and Costa Rica. The company’s products support economic agricultural empowerment, improved farming work conditions, equal pay for women, and technical and health assistance to the farmers. Michelle’s objective for Zesa Raw is to improve the livelihood of small-scale farmers and to transform subsistence agriculture to sustainable and private enterprise.
Michelle brings over 12 years operating experience in the hospitality industry and served as Business Development, Executive Studio & Facilities Director at Stephan Weiss Studio at Urban Zen, a for-profit organization started by Donna Karan. Since 2002, she has served as treasurer and on the board of directors of the Wayuu Taya Foundation founded by U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Patricia Velasquez. These experiences, married with her role as a strategic partner for a $30 million micro-park for the purpose of impact investment and economic development for a multilateral banking institution, led to her vision for Zesa Raw.
Michelle is a first generation Haitian-American, which fuels her passion to bring economic growth and stability to struggling economies, while respecting and understanding their unique needs and traditions.