The Haiti Tech Summit will be held from June 2-5 in Port-au-Prince (location to be announced). The Haiti Tech Summit will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, digital marketers and others to address development changes in Haiti that can be addresed through technological innovation. The event is projected to include 100 speakers, 500 companies, and 1,000 attendees. Sign up for updates and more information about program and organizers follows.
Encite Capital is a new non-profit organization with the objective of supporting small business development in Haiti with an emphasis on agribusiness, manufacturing, and alternative energy. The official launch party will be held on July 25th from 6-8pm at the Hillyer Gallery in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington DC. To learn more about Encite Capital, check out their website or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. More information follows.
Nobel peace laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank Mohammad Yunus announced on Saturday that his development group will finance several social business projects in Haiti. These include two poultry farms, a plantation of jatropha plants (which can be used for biodiesel), a bakery, and a tilapia fish farm. The full announcement follows.
While the World Bank has a mixed record in Haiti, it and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) remain two of the most important multilateral funders of its post earthquake reconstruction. Yesterday, the World Bank announced $255 million in grants for Haiti which will be focused on strengthening education, agriculture, and disaster risk management – all of which are critical for Haiti’s long term development. The World Bank press release follows. More information about its activities in Haiti are available on the World Bank website.
Haiti requires foreign assistance for many years to come. However, trade is more important than aid over the long term. Digicel and others have shown that, while a difficult place to do business, investment can be both beneficial to Haiti and profitable to investors. A two day event to court new investors, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, was recently concluded. Announcements included planned improvements to route national one, an industrial park in the north, and a large, new hotel in Port au Prince. A Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles on the forum follows.
The transition from emergency relief to reconstruction is happening, albeit slowly. It won’t be easy and there will be setbacks, particularly given that the rainy season is upon us along with the risks it brings of flooding, mudslides, infectious diseases, and infrastructure damage. Engineers have completed emergency mitigation measures at six of the most vulnerable settlements to protect the most vulnerable, but much remains to be done.
"Mesi" to Nicholas Kristof for his article below in defense of the Haitian people. Development "experts" and religious "leaders" alike have put forth their own theories, ranging from fatalism to God's will, to explain Haiti's poverty. Friends of Haiti know that Haitians are a strong, proud people who did not deserve what has happened to them. As Kristof writes, " ...the implication of belated seismic revenge on Haitian children seems defamatory of God." Haitians have made it through natural and man-made disasters before this. While Haiti won't be the same, it will recover - the ultimate rebuttal to those who say it cannot.
Hard to believe that just a year and a half ago, there were food riots in Port au Prince and other Haitian cities. Since then, Haiti has become become politically stable to the point where firms involved in agriculture, textiles, infrastructure development and tourism are considering investing in Haiti. Livelihood opportunities are sorely needed given that half of Haitians live on less than two dollars a day. Still, the majority of Haitians are small farmers. Without opportunities to provide for themselves and their families, the influx of the rural poor to urban centers will only accelerate. Increasing agricultural productivity/opportunities is key to improving food security in Haiti.
In late 2006, we were blogging about Haiti’s kidnapping crisis. Now in late 2009, we are blogging about investment opportunities. Much has changed. Just last week, hundreds of potential investors gathered for the largest investment conference ever held in Haiti, organized by the Inter American Development Bank with financial support from the Canadian government. Will trade become more important than aid some day? This depends on the answers to two questions. First, can investors make a return on their investments? Second, will the government allocate new resources in an effective, accountable way that benefits all of Haiti and not just the cities?
According to Marketwire, Digicel is celebrating the third anniversary of its launch in Haiti with a customer base of 2.1 million. Digicel's initial investment of US$260 million is the singled largest (legal) investment ever made in Haiti. Digicel is proof that foreign investment can be accountable, profitable, and benefit society. We hope it is a model others will follow.