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.
Small Business Development
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.
Below is an LA Times article about the difficulty and potential of promoting tourism in Haiti. Every country in the Caribbean benefits from tourism to some extent. Haiti's tourism industry could also grow (modestly) over time - with stability, more hotels, and hospitality training programs. Linkages to tourism agencies in the Dominican Republic could also open up cross-border tourism. Thoughts on promoting tourism in Haiti? Post your ideas below.
Internet availability has come a long way since 2000, when a small number of cyber-cafes catered mainly to UN staff. Broadband availability will increase significantly as a result of Digicel's latest project - financing the construction of a USD $16m 200 km undersea cable to Haiti. For a Caribbean country with a large Diaspora, the internet helps people stay connected and do business. It also has untapped potential as a learning tool, helping students to be active rather than passive learners. More information follows.
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.
Like Haitians themselves, coffee has African roots. Throughout much of its colonial and post-colonial history, coffee was a major export and source of livelihoods. However, mismanagement, deforestation, natural disasters, political instability, and embargos have resulted in a dramatic decrease Haitian coffee exports. Yet, Haitian coffee is good - unusually good. Can Haiti revive and expand its coffee industry? Just Haiti and Singing Rooster are two organizations that believe it can. Buying from either of these organizations is a great way to support both your coffee habit and Haitian farmers.
Below is an article Phil Cruver, President of KZO Sea Farms, wrote for the Christian Science Monitor on the need for a modern aquaculture industry in Haiti. With half the fish consumed worldwide each year having been farm-raised, this is clearly a growth industry. But could it work in Haiti? Even traditional fisheries are rare in Haiti despite its oceans having become largely overfished. However, aquaculture could provide jobs, affordable protein, and contribute to better marine management. It is certainly worth considering.
Fonkoze, Haiti's most successful micro-lending institution, has released its annual report. After a year of growth in 2009, the earthquake was a major blow to its operations. Ten Fonkoze branches were severely damaged or destroyed. Four hundred and fifty staff lost their homes and over 19,000 clients lost homes and/or businesses. Fonkoze responded by expanding support to earthquake affected clients, including the use of micro-insurance as a tool to help rebuild their livelihoods. Attached is both the annual report and an impact analysis. Below is a summary of their 2009 and 2010 activities.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the opening of an apparel training center in Port au Prince. The intent is to help Haiti take advantage of expanded trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act that passed the Senate in May 2010. My main concern is that foreign investment, while sorely needed, will primarily occur in Port au Prince. Building a better Haiti depends in large part on building a decentralized Haiti where agriculture is viable and profitable. Rural development has been all too often neglected in Haiti, but is critical for the future.
The economy of every Caribbean country, from Cuba to Curacao, depends to a certain extent on tourism. The question is not whether Haiti can benefit from tourism so much as where, how, and to what degree. In order to learn more about the potential for tourism in Haiti, we caught up with Patrick Smyth, founder of Tours to Haiti. The interview, as well as a link to the website and contact information, follows.