Over the last month all eyes have been on actual and potential post-election violence in Haiti but there’s more than violence and frustration going on there (see below). Business happens in Haiti, too, but it’s a topic that won’t typically be reported on in the media–to the detriment of Haitian diaspora who’re either looking for sustainable ways to help their country or who want to magnify the impact of foreign aid.
Fact: investment opportunities exist in Haiti. Business coverage can help to foster not only more of them but more open commercial transactions. Fact: if there’s one word that the Haitians I talked to this summer repeated most often, it’s “job.” Despite that, most of our media and community conversations in the US, even among the diaspora, center not on job creation but on charity–as if alms ever lifted any mass of people out of poverty.
So in my small-voiced attempt to expand “the Haiti conversation” to include sustainable economic activity, what follows is a sampling of investments and job-creation initiatives announced after and apparently, despite the election day fiasco. My question for the Haitian diaspora is: how can you assist or expand on the effectiveness of these efforts?
Jobs for Haiti’s youth The press release does not say where in the country but the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) is supporting six job centers that will provide a six-month training program on construction skills. Read the release for more details and contact information.
Support for small businesses The CBHF is funding for a year, a Port-au-Prince based center that will serve as a clearinghouse for reconstruction bids and tender opportunities.
Rural economic development A wireless broadband Internet network is planned for six rural regions across Haiti. … Within 18 months, management and responsibility for the network will be turned over to local Haitian partners. See release for the implementing organizations and contact information.
Loans for small businesses Financing from CBHF will enable Root Capital to leverage an additional $1.6 million in funding from other social investors…for loans to promising businesses in Haiti. Zafén, on whose behalf wonder woman Katleen Felix has been working tirelessly, has also received CBH funding to create a a network of qualified Haitian business analysts, deploying them throughout Haiti to identify and evaluate promising small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Charity is easy; anyone can do it. But not anyone can help to create employment. If you’re involved in the latter, I’d love to hear your perspective. What can the diaspora do to help you?