On September 11th, winners will be selected for the Pioneers of Prosperity Caribbean Awards 2009. Two Haitian companies are in the running: (1) Alternative Insurance Company, founded in 2001 by Olivier Barrau to provide a range of insurance products aimed at Haitians earning less than $4 a day, and (2) Solutions S.A., founded by Kurt Jean-Charles in 2000 to create customized database solutions and information systems. Both companies demonstrate the potential of Haitian businesses and we wish them the best of luck. More details about the contest are below.
Copied below is a strategy paper that Prime Minister Pierre Louis recently released on how the Haitian government intends to meet its short term goals. I was pleased to see the attention devoted to agriculture, the private sector, and infrastructure development. Unfortunately, the Haitian government has yet to receive one gourde from the Haiti Donors' Conference. Hopefully, Special Envoy Clinton has not lost his touch and will be able to encourage Friends of Haiti to honor their pledges. The paper is brief but balanced and well thought out. Please feel free to post your thoughts about it in the comments section.
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.
Caribbean 360 carried an announcement that, by early next year, Haiti will have taken a step toward closer integration into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy. As part of this deal, CARICOM will carry out public education campaigns to educate Haitains about CARICOM and to educate other Caribbean countries about Haiti. The expansion of Digicel, the largest company in Haiti, shows the potential of the private sector in Haiti. Haiti needs trade more than it needs aid and I hope regional integration will help create much needed employment.