From Instability to Investment

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, October 8, 2009.

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?

 

At the investment conference, more than 500 private sector representatives ttended including US, Canadian, Dominican, Brazilian and Colombian corporations.  Gap, Levi Strauss and American Eagle Outfitters were there, enticed by the HOPE II Legislation through which duties on apparel assembled in Haiti are removed.  Citibank and Scotiabank were present in order to discuss loans for interested investors, important given that so few commercial and industrial properties are being constructed, at least in part, because of a lack of credit.

 

According to the Miami Herald, 74% participants said they had an investment project in Haiti in mind and preferred a joint venture with projects of $5 million and more.  Most came away with a more positive opinion about investing in Haiti but 96(!) percent of those surveyed named a lack of electricity and roads as the primary concern.  Security came in second at 48%.

 

Clinton called on the investors to help promote Haiti's image abroad as a tourist destination. Royal Caribbean International is building a $55 million cruise ship pier in Labadee that has hosted 10 million visitors since 1985.  It is hoped that the Labadie beach resort can draw up to 1 million tourists a year by 2011.  Of Haiti's 800,000 visitors last year, 500,000 were ferried in by Royal Caribbean.  The cruise line charged each a $6 government tax, adding $3 million to government's coffers.  The fee will be increased to $10 after the pier is completed, with the additional funds being used for operations and improvement.

 

Royal Caribbean committed to boosting the local economy by buying food from Haitian producers.  They will also establish a vocational training school to train people in the hospitality industry.  But tourism in Haiti face major obstacles including a lack of hotel rooms and infrastructure.  Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald notes that this tourism push comes in the context of the United States and other nations downgrading travel warnings to Haiti, the country's southern coast enjoying a resurgence of domestic tourism, and Port-au-Prince's international airport undergoing a $1 million modernization.

 

Clinton called for expanding the Cap-Haitian airport for international flights so that visitors can avoid Port-au-Prince and the long, harrowing drive to the north.  If not for the instability, this would have been done long ago.  Looking at Jamaica, for example, it would certainly hurt their tourism industy if all tourists had to go through Kingston.  Thanks to the Montego Bay secondary airport, it is not an issue. The upgrading of Cap Haitian’s modest airport so that jets can land, after many delays, may actually happen.  Parliament has reportedly ratified a $30 million loan agreement with Venezuela to do so.

 

The Haitian Ministry of Tourism is eager to benefit from tourism as all countries of the Caribbean do to some extent.   The Citadelle, perhaps the most awe inspiring fort in the Western Hemisphere, the San Souci Palace, and the beaches along the northern coast are seen as potential tourism anchors.  Forty million will be invested into the town of Milot to create a vibrant tourist village with arts and craft markets, restaurants, etc.

 

Concerning industry, the Soros Economic Development Fund and the WIN group recently launched a $25 million equity investment fund with the potential of growing to $150 million. Its first investment is a new $50 million industrial park near Cité Soleil that is poised to create 25,000 new jobs.  Located on a 60-acre parcel, the West Indies Free Zone is expected to be completed by late 2012.  The project’s initial phase of construction is scheduled for the Fall of 2010.  The industrial park will be located directly adjacent to Cité Soleil's port, and will benefit from reliable, nearby sources of energy and water.

 

A Brazilian textile delegation visited Haiti in early October.  It included representatives from the Brazilian Association of Textile and Clothing (ABIT) and the Brazilian Association of Man-Made Fibers (ABRAFAS). The group visited textile assembly plants in Port-au-Prince and the free-trade zone of Ouanaminthe.

 

Irish tax refund company Taxback will open a call center in Haiti to provide clients with tax documentation help. The project is expected to create about two dozen new jobs.  It’s small, but consider it a pilot project.  If it works, there may be opportunities for future service oriented jobs in Haiti.

 

The U.S. State Department Hemispheric Affairs’ main coordinator for economic initiatives, Charles Shapiro, emphasizes that it makes good sense for the Dominican Republic and Haiti to partner on economic projects.  Shapiro cited Dominican entrepreneurs with investments in Haiti, and Haitians who work on Dominican side of the border and send money back to their country.  Haiti and the Dominican Republic have begun discussions over an air traffic agreement between the two countries.  It is rumored that American Airlines may soon begin service between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo.

 

Several other important conferences are coming up.  The 10th Annual Caribbean Business Forum will be held for October 21 to 24 in Haiti.  Funding is provided agai n by the Inter-American Development Bank with additional support from the government of Taiwan. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Mexican government will host a meeting in November to discuss international cooperation for promoting development in Haiti.

 

But investment is about more than companies. As Paul Farmer put it, “When I talk about the private sector, I don’t mean big business people only, but the ‘Madanm Sara’ (street merchants), the peasants who represent an incredible workforce for this country.  We need to sustain them.  And we also need to make sure that these people find capital to grow their crops and small businesses.  And finally, their children should be able to go to school.”

 

Both Clinton and the IDB agree on the promise of growing local companies. One such company is Caribbean Harvest, a tilapia farm on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that Clinton spent Thursday afternoon touring.  At the farm, fish are raised in an aluminum pool for two months before being sold at 10 cents each to local farmers who put them in a cage.  The cage is then put in the river, and the fish are fed three times a day for the next four months.  Those that weigh one pound are sold back to the farm, while undersized ones are sold by local merchant women who earn as much as $30 a day selling them on the streets.  Those sold back to the farm are then processed and sold to local restaurants, markets and hotels.  The profits are then shared between the business and the farmer.  This could be a promising model to replicate throughout Haiti.

 

In order to maximize investment, Haiti needs reliable, affordable energy.  The Brazilian government has provided $3 million in start-up costs on construction of a new hydroelectric plant in Mirebalais.  The project will eventually flood 450 hectares of arable land, and frankly, that makes me nervous.  Hydroelectic power has a sad history in Haiti.  The World Bank approved a $5 million grant to implement a two year Electricity Loss Reduction Project in Haiti.  This project is intended to improve Electricite D'Haiti (EDH) ovrsight of the energy sector.  And they need that help.  The Haitian Parliament also ratified an energy agreement between Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela.  Venezuela will provide 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery near Gonaives.  Biofuels company Bio Tek and the Haitian government are partnering to increase the use of biofuels in Haiti, in order to create jobs for local sugar cane farmers.  You can see powerpoint presentations on biofuel possibilities presented during the investment conference here.  Some progress so far, but much more investment and reform is needed in the Haitian energy sector.

 

Concerning communications, Digicel is the poster company for successful international investment in Haiti – providing Haitians much needed cellular service, at a reasonable price, making a tidy profit, a portion of which is invested in educational charities. In addition, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is confirming a contract with one of several data service providers in Haiti and two more to come by the year's end, according to Guardian Business.  Interconnecting with BTC and its new fiber optic cable to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince gives cell phone service providers access to a more reliable, faster and more secure transmission method, something which BTC believes is important in a hurricane-sensitive zone.

 

All this attention is welcome and a sign of progress.  But let’s face it – Haiti is still a tough place to business. The World Bank 2010 Doing Business Report ranked Haiti as one of the worst countries for doing business.  Although it has improved three ranks, to 151 from 154.  But despite this difficult environment, there have been some successes – The government has decreased the amount of time it takes to form a company from almost 300 days to 70...still too much but a significant improvement.  Digicel and Royal Caribbean are expanding. Roads are improving and there is a new electrical plant outside of Cite Soleil.  There are new hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers.  Things are not changing as fast as we all would like, but they are changing.

 

Haiti will not overtake Taiwan in attracting foreign investments anytime soon.  But as Maguire noted in his recently released USIP report, Haiti can learn from Taiwan.  Before Taiwan became a modern, industrial economy, it first passed land reforms and got its agricultural house in order.  Factory jobs alone won’t lift Haiti out of poverty.  Only agriculture, in which 66% of the Haitian population is employed, can do that.  It is up to the Haitian government to make sure that the entire country benefits, otherwise inequality and instability will persist.

 

Considering investing in Haiti?  If so, in what?  Please feel free to post in the comments section below. 

 

Bryan

 

 

South Korean firm moves to build plant in Haiti (AP - 11/28/11)

The biggest international project aimed at helping Haiti rebound from the 2010 earthquake eased closer to reality at a ceremony Monday. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Haitian President Michel Martelly broke ground for an ambitious $224 million industrial park in northern Haiti that they hope will generate tens of thousands of jobs, house 5,000 of the workers and educate 500 of their children in a new school. Those involved hope the South Korean garment manufacturer Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd. will set an example and urge other foreign businesses to invest in Haiti, a country long ignored by outsiders because of its cumbersome laws, heaps of red tape and occasional political tumult. "Investors still do not believe or understand the value and potential of Haiti as we do," Kim Woong-ki, chairman of Sae-A, said through an interpreter in the northern town of Caracol. "Let's open this closed door and mind set toward Haiti and highlight the true value and potential of Haiti." The project on the 617-acre (250-hectare) site was in the works long before the January 2010 earthquake but became a priority after Clinton was named the United Nations' special envoy for Haiti in 2009 and given responsibility for spurring private investment. On the eve of the quake's first anniversary, the Haitian government and Sae-A signed an agreement to create the industrial park, which will export clothing to the United States. Among the company's 20 existing factories are plants in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Indonesia and Vietnam. The United States has provided $120 million for generating electricity, housing for workers and improvements to a port in the north. The Inter-American Development Bank will provide $50 million for building factory shells and infrastructure. The Caracol industrial park is intended to be Haiti's largest private employer, with a goal of providing 20,000 jobs at the park and creating 133,000 in all through cottage industries. The first T-shirts are scheduled be made in May or June of next year. "This is the kind of change we need," Martelly said from a stage surrounded by bulldozers and other heavy machinery. "This is the kind of development we need." Workers will be paid Haiti's minimum wage, which is $5 a day, and will be eligible for bonuses based on performance. Clinton said the industrial park will eventually improve the lives of about 500,000 people as the complex brings in other tenants and small businesses emerge around the plant. Thirty percent of Sae-A's jobs will be set aside for women. Nella Felix hopes to be among them. She's a sometime street vendor who makes up the 60 percent of the population that makes about $2 a day.
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"For me, it's a real way for the youth of the community to live, to find jobs and work," Felix, 42, said after the ceremony. "I'm waiting to see what they can do for us." Critics of the industrial park argue that Haiti would be better off investing money in its long-neglected agriculture sector instead of the garment sector, which has stumbled along because of sporadic political upheaval. Rudy Boulos, a business leader and former senator for the region, acknowledged the shortcomings but said the thousands of jobs will stimulate the area's economy, allowing parents to send their children to school. "I don't think an industrial plant is the best way to create jobs," Boulos said before the ceremony started. "But it's a beginning. It's a first step to being self-sufficient." Separately, Clinton and Martelly announced Monday that the Digicel phone company will help build a $45 million, 173-room hotel with Marriott International. The new franchise is expected to create 175 jobs. onstruction is expected to begin next year in Turgeau, one of the few middle-class neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince proper. Opening is cheduled for mid-2014.

Clinton Foundation Helps Haiti Hotel Deal (CNN - 11/29/2011)

Two years after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake leveled Haiti's capital, a deal brokered by former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation will add new lodging for aid workers and other travelers to Port-au-Prince -- in the form of a $45 million hotel. With only about 500 operable hotel rooms, the city has limited space to house aid workers, potential investors and other visitors, according to a news release Monday by the future hotel's owner and its operator. Caribbean cell phone provider Digicel will own the hotel, which will have 173 new rooms and create 175 new jobs. Marriott Hotels and Resorts will operate the hotel upon completion in 2014. Construction is set to begin in 2012. Clinton praised the project for creating jobs and attracting visitors in a statement from the William J. Clinton Foundation. "My foundation has worked with both Marriott and Digicel, and encouraged them to form this partnership," the president said. The Clinton Foundation "visited proposed construction sites with the parties and facilitated introductions to the Haitian government and the Haitian Tourism Association," according to Digicel and Marriott. Digicel claims to be Haiti's largest private investor and cell phone provider and touts its charitable contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative. Clinton has been involved in helping Haiti since soon after the January 12, 2010, quake. At the time, he was named a U.N. special envoy to Haiti. President Barack Obama asked Clinton and former President George W. Bush to raise money for relief and recovery in Haiti. In response, the two former commanders-in-chief established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed about 316,000 people and affected about 3 million of Haiti's 9 million residents, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Haitian Company Acquires Texaco (Gleaner - 11/2/2011)

By Steven Jackson
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Haiti-based GB Group announced Monday that it acquired Chevron Corporation's assets in Jamaica and two other Caribbean countries for an undisclosed sum. The deal sees century-old GB Group acquiring the distribution and sales of petroleum products in Jamaica, Dominica Republic and St Maarten from Chevron Caribbean, which owns the Texaco gas brand. "The company also completed the sale of certain other fuels-marketing and aviation businesses in the Caribbean and South America in the third quarter 2011," stated Chevron chairman and CEO John Watson in its just-released financials. The financials stated no additional information on the asset sale. The deal for sale of Eastern Caribbean and Central American assets was struck last year November with Vitogaz SA, a wholly owned subsidiary of RUBIS Group. That transaction, which RUBIS called a US$300-million takeover, covered 174 service stations plus an equity stake in an associated refinery, fuel terminal and aviation facility, and a commercial and industrial fuels business. Chairman of the GB Group, Gilbert Bigio, said the acquisition would further expand the revenue stream of the business. "This transaction is part of our ongoing efforts to constantly search for new opportunities to expand our downstream fuel business in the Caribbean, keeping our focus to satisfy the needs of our customers in the markets where we operate," he said in a press release. Texaco currently has a network of 62 gas stations, according to 2011 telephone listings. However, most of the locally branded Texaco stations are owned by entrepreneurs. The local component of the deal would therefore mainly entail fuel distribution. Texaco Jamaica previously sold off its lubricants distribution business to Guatemalan company Lucalza, which took possession of the operation in November 2010. Several attempts to contact David Sterling, head of Chevron Jamaica, proved futile up to press time; calls to GB Group were not returned. The GB Group started over a century ago, operating mainly in Haiti with offices in Dominican Republic and the US, according to its website. Its operations span various sectors, including agriculture, construction, consumer goods, energy, environment, infrastructure, telecoms, trading, and transportation. The group has more than 2,000 employees. Chevon Texaco's sell-off of its Caribbean businesses is aimed at reinvesting in faster growth markets which could include Latin America and Asia, the company said last year. Its phased move out of the Caribbean market followed that of Dutch-owned Shell and American Exxon-Mobil's Esso over the past six years. The RUBIS-Vitogaz deal included assets in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent, Guyana, St Kitts, French Guiana, Martinique, Guade-loupe, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize. The American oil giant sold its distribution operation in Haiti last year. Chevron is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, whose roots trace back to 1879. Its name changed from Standard Oil on acquisition of Gulf Oil Corp in 1984. Chevron later merged with the Texas Fuel Company, in 2001, which became known as The Texas Company, Texaco.

Haiti Looks to Asia and Diaspora for Investment (11/5/2011)

10/27/2011
Reuters
By Joseph Guyler Delva
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Haiti is wooing Asian manufacturers, and its own diaspora, to inject investments and funds into the economy and create jobs to drive a recovery from last year's earthquake, the foreign minister said on Thursday. "Our focus right now is two things: foreign companies to come and invest and Haitians in the diaspora coming back to invest," Laurent Lamothe, a former businessman who is now Haiti's top diplomat, told Reuters in an interview. President Michel Martelly, an extroverted former pop star elected in March, has declared the impoverished quake-scarred Caribbean nation "open for business" after Prime Minister Garry Conille's cabinet including Lamothe was sworn in on October 18. One of Lamothe's first overseas visits was to South Korea, where he discussed with the Asian nation's leaders and business executives last week plans to create more than 40,000 jobs in Haiti next year through investments in industrial parks. "We are looking at the apparel sector and technology sectors -- for example, electric razors, putting together cell phones and things like that," the foreign minister said, adding the projected investments in the parks totaled $224 million. Lamothe said Haiti, whose capital and economic center Port-au-Prince was wrecked by the 2010 earthquake, could offer foreign apparel manufacturers and assembly industries proximity to the large U.S. market. It also enjoyed preferential access to the American market for garment exports. "There are a lot of Asian companies, especially in the apparel manufacturing sector, that want to deliver goods quickly to the United States and the proximity we have to do this in a very short turn-around helps Haiti," Lamothe said. Haiti is eligible for duty-free entry of textiles to the U.S. market, irrespective of the source of inputs, under U.S. legislation -- the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act and the May 2010 Haitian Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act which expanded the Haitian garment quotas. With support from the U.S. government and the Inter-American Development Bank, one of South Korea's biggest garment manufacturers, Sae-A Trading Co Ltd, aims to initially invest more than $70 million in an industrial park in northern Haiti, creating up to 20,000 jobs. Further investments in and around Port-au-Prince by other South Korean entrepreneurs are seen creating another 20,000 jobs next year, Haitian officials say. Lifting Haiti out of its status as the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation is a priority for Martelly and prime minister Conille, a U.N. development expert who has announced ambitious plans to modernize infrastructure, establish rural and urban development zones and create 1.5 million jobs in five years. Lamothe said Haiti was also looking to attract visits by Haitian exiles overseas -- he said 4 million lived abroad -- to bring funds into the nation of over 9 million people. "There are 4 million Haitians living in the diaspora. For example, if you take 25 percent of that figure, if you have one million people coming here spending $100 per trip, that's $100 million additionally in foreign direct investments," he said. "We want to route all the diaspora dollars into Haiti," Lamothe said, underlining the Martelly's government's insistent message that it wants to draw a line under Haiti's checkered past of violence, dictatorships, corruption and poverty. More than 80 percent of Haiti's people live under the poverty line, the CIA's "World Factbook" says. It estimates 2010 unemployment at 40.6 percent and says two-thirds of the Haitian labor force do not have formal jobs. Lamothe said other investment opportunities included "great tourism areas" and projects to rebuild the quake-damaged presidential palace and other official buildings, as well as entire city neighborhoods left in ruins by the 2010 disaster. Martelly's government has also vowed to resettle more than 600,000 homeless quake survivors still living in tent camps. "There is a new management in town ... We want to show that basically a small Caribbean nation that's been through a lot of problems is now doing better," Lamothe said. Writing by Pascal Fletcher, Editing by Eric Walsh.

New South Florida-based Rebuilding Campaign Helps Rebuild Haiti

10/3/2011
Newsblaze
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Among the pictures and paintings on display at The Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, more than 100 business leaders, community activists, neighbors and people who care turned out to support the "Rebuilding Haiti" program through a new campaign called Hard Hats for Haiti. Spearheaded by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the campaign's main goal is not only to raise awareness, but to raise funds to build safe homes and neighborhoods for hundreds of thousands Haitian earthquake victims, through a private and public partnership. "We want to rebuild Haiti by implementing the 3R's: Rebuilding communities, Revitalizing neighborhoods, and Restoring livelihoods (creating jobs) by making sure the people who need the most help, really get it," said Paul Fisher, Director of Corporate Partnerships for PADF. Fisher co-hosted the launch event at The Little Haiti Cultural Center at 212 NE 59th Terrace in Miami last Thursday, September 22nd at 7p.m. Fisher and Haiti's Consul General, Ralph Latortue, kicked off the night's event and campaign, then introduced the community and corporate sponsors who have pledged to donate money and time to the Haitian rebuilding effort. More than 180,000 homes were damaged and 1.5 million people were left homeless after the January 2010, 7.0 magnitude quake struck near Port-au-Prince. "Unlike other movements to help Haiti, every dollar will go directly to the hardest hit areas, like Delmas 32, a neighborhood at the epicenter of the crisis," added Latortue. Event attendees got to see how that would happen first hand as a slide show of the devastation and rebuilding process in Haiti played on a big screen at the front of the gallery. Guests watched and clapped as Daniel O'Neil, PADF's Senior Director of Programs for Haiti and Dominican Republic spoke about the reconstruction process, and the group's higher goal of creating 14,000 sustainable jobs across the country. The list of sponsors of Hard Hats for Haiti is impressive. Among the community and corporate partners are: Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and the City of Miami, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Caterpillar, Diageo, RIM Blackberry and MTV. PADF also receives backing from institutions such as the United States Agency for International Aid, the World Bank, the American Red Cross and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The campaign is the most significant to date because of the leadership of the PADF, which is able to bring corporations, institutions, cities and citizens together for a good cause. In fact, PADF has secured over $50 million dollar commitment from its institutional donors, but there's a catch, in order to access the money, PADF has to raise $1 million dollars a year for the next three years through public donations, as matching funds; "We want to build a better Port-Au-Prince where lives are better, where we can say we built back the community better," added O'Neil. So how does it work? Participants can join the cause by visiting www.hardhats4haiti.org
and doing one of three things:
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- Create a Team - Join a Team - Join as an Individual
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Teams are encouraged to raise $2,000, which is the amount it takes to rebuild a home in a revitalized neighborhood. In fact, local TV anchor, Jawan Strader of CBS, WFOR-TV who attended the event, is taking up the cause and hosting a party at Cadillac Ranch, a restaurant in Kendall on October 21st, 2011. The events go on with Reggie Canal of AKYSON, who is organizing a fashion and design gala called "Contemporary Haiti". The gala is scheduled to take place on November 19th at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Photos by renowned artists Jordan Zuñiga and artwork by Carl Juste, will be part of a silent auction. The overall goal is to raise money, and no amount is insignificant. That's why before the evening ended, guests were asked to text HARDHATS to 27722 to make a $5 donation. Organizers also asked people to tweet about the initiative through Twitter at the hashtag #HH4Haiti or to follow the efforts on Facebook. Follow PADF on Twitter to get updates on the latest information.
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Pan American Development Foundation: Headquartered in Washington DC, PADF is a is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1962 to promote, facilitate and implement social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, PADF is closely engaged with the South Florida community through its Miami office. PADF develops public-private partnerships that assist the least advantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean. Having worked in every country in the western hemisphere, PADF engages community-based groups, governments and the private sector in the process of implementing appropriate solutions for sustainable development. In 2010, PADF helped more than 10.2 million beneficiaries in 22 countries. To learn more about the Hard Hats for Haiti campaign, please visit www.hardhats4haiti.org.

CGI 2010: Haiti Development Workshop (9/19/2011)

Posted by Ken Houghton
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"The winner" in Haitian development created 12,000 jobs in the garment industry in the past eight years in Haiti. Seems as if all of the participants today will be garment manufacturers, though WJC notes that companies such as Coca-Cola and Newmont Mining are also considering investment. When I sent an email out indicating that I was thinking of attending, the best response I got to questions you would like to ask was "Is Haiti doomed forever to be the developed world’s sweat shop? Will it ever be allowed to have an agricultural economy of its own?" Only 43% of the aid pledged after the earthquake nearly two years ago has been disbursed today. (Take that, "shovel-ready" complainers!) WJC: “Haiti will not have a sustainable economy unless there are new investments, new jobs, and new business.” President Clinton describes the disaster as “best opportunity in my lifetime” for the country.” (I’m guessing this is in the same way as education privatization has worked in New Orleans since Katrina.) Most of the donor monies have not gone through the local institutions, but President Martelly is determined to have local government integrated in the discussions. As an example of the problems before the earthquake, WJC notes that there was no market in lending—even mortgage lending—in the country before now. WJC describes Donna Karan as “Haiti has taken over her life to the extent that I am now a back-bencher.” I think this is a positive statement. Also gets a pledge for development from the new group run by Mohammed Yunus (who I interviewed at the 2009 CGI) and one other group [update: Zafen appears to be the other Commitment].
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WJC, leading up to the President of Haiti, mentions that W. described the President of the United States as the "decider in chief." Clinton said that he rather agrees with that statement, noting of Martelly that "This man will make a decision." He also declares that most of them have been good ones, something he did not say, at least now, about GWB. The President of Haiti Michel Martelly rehashes some of these points in more detail and discusses the plans of his administration to make it easier to start a business in Haiti and complete a new Industrial Park, with two more apparel companies and a furniture manufacturer joining there by the end of the year. Working with USAID, IADB, and others to ensure that their business-friendly approach will be highlighted around the world. Revamping processes and reshaping policies to create trade agreements with other countries, such as Brazil, using the model of the 10-year agreement with the United States. Upsides: free education for all pledged, as well as opening a state university and (separate) vocational school. Will be subsidizing the education of 772,000 Haitian children and leverage their location near the largest market (U.S.) and the “booming markets of Latin America.” WJC notes that even the long-antagonistic Dominican Republic has worked with Haiti to rebuild since the earthquake. First speaker is Magalie Dresse, owner, Caribbean Craft, who notes that her business has expanded rapidly thanks in large part to Donna Karan’s commitment and some major effort from Ms. Dresse herself.
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A representative from the Haiti Action Network—or perhaps Denis O’Brien of Digicell—follows, claiming that Haiti has been a democracy for only five years. He’s still alive, and follows that by declaring that “there’s no country that has more creativity than Haiti.” Luis Alberto Moreno, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), follows, declaring that the five-month President”inspired us all.” (I’m hoping I misheard that and that he was really referencing WJC.) He then goes on to talk about “Juan Valdez” and the Colombian coffee industry. I cannot tell if the audience is too polite, too young (doesn’t look like the way to bet), or just too stunned. But he goes on to make good points about possible developments that would not be dependent on the rag trade. President Martelly speaks again; it’s easy to understand why people like him, and he clearly has a vision for agricultural development as well as economic development. Not certain I would quit my job to work for him, but it would be worth thinking about. The next speaker is Woong-Ki Kim, chairman of the Sae-A Trading Company—or, more accurately, Ron Garwood, who is working as his interpreter. Chairman Kim has several reasons for his Haitian investment, including shorter delivery times, “an abundant and motivated labor supply,” a preferential Trade Agreement with the U.S. that provides duty-free entry, and that the U.S. and the IADB are building up the North Industrial Park, including an eco-friendly , state-of-the-art waste-water treatment plant, a power plant, and housing, not to mention giving them land (150 hectares, if I heard correctly). Mr. Alberto Moreno notes that another Korean company—a Fiber-Optic firm—and an American furniture company are also seriously planning to move into that park to create jobs. WJC, who I still maintain is rivaled by no one in his ability to process and retain data, asks about sugar production in Haiti, noting that it is very fragmented and strongly concentrated in rum manufacturers. Mr. Alberto Moreno notes that the IADB has been speaking with the Brazilians about their recent efforts in using sugar cane as energy and leveraging that technology into power generation. Haiti pays the highest KwH power cost of anywhere. “This is insane.” – WJC. As most of this is effluvia to sugar generation, the marginal cost is almost solely derived from capital investment—virtually no labor cost, even if you provide better (“good”) income to workers. Mr. Alberto Moreno confirms President Clinton’s vision for energy generation, noting the hydropower generation opportunities as well.
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President Martelly notes that Haitian are working to produce sugar—in Santo Domingo. Providing the opportunities at home would cause repatriation and improve human capital. (“They would rather stay home and do it—so we should try it.”) Talk goes to tourism, with the best sight gag of the day: President Martelly says, “I could stand up and tell you”—stands up—“that Haiti is the most beautiful country in the world.” He then goes on to note that voudoun is an attraction. (Maybe I would quit my job and work for his government after all.) Mr.O’Brien notes that he toured Haiti this summer and that there are many opportunities for “boutique” hotels (20 rooms or fewer) and other boutiques in areas—“either way, left or right, as you come out of the airport”—that are growing in other areas but are underavailable to tourism. (Having been to Punta Cana, I suspect that the areas outside of Port-au-Prince are more diverse, and therefore more interesting, than those in the DR. But I could be wrong; if I am, please note so in comments,) WJC notes that former colonies tend to have “a legacy rules-based government.” (This is standard cant among the technocratic center, with a large grain of truth and somewhat deliberate elision of the reason many of those rules were put in place initially.) Ms. Dresse notes that Donna Karan’s declaration that the potential for Caribbean Craft is 20-30,000 more jobs “underestimates the potential.” Mr. Alberto Moreno closes with an announcement of an investor conference on 29-30 November in Haiti. “Guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.” Had more than 300 investors from Latin America at a conference three months before the earthquake. The abiding feeling from this presentation—for me at least—is that the Latin American countries and Korea recognize and are moving toward an opportunity. Whether U.S. investors are so enthusiastic is still TBD.

Clinton, Martelly Form Board to Court Investors (AP - 9/9/2011)

By TRENTON DANIEL
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Haiti's president on Thursday unveiled an advisory board of former leaders, business executives and bankers that he hopes can make this poor Caribbean nation a more business friendly place and attract foreign investment. President Michel Martelly announced that the panel he has created with former U.S. President Bill Clinton will help redevelop Haiti, whose capital and outlying cities were shattered in last year's earthquake. "To build the economy, we need new ideas and new investments," said Laurent Lamothe, a telecommunications entrepreneur who is a senior adviser to Martelly. He will be co-chairman of the council with Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti. The council will be similar to a reconstruction panel set up in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake to coordinate international aid for rebuilding Haiti. The new panel will focus on expanding the economy by luring investors to create new businesses. Martelly has said he wants to create 500,000 jobs over the next three years. Overseas companies have long been leery of investing in Haiti because there is red-tape, confusion over laws, insecurity, and sometimes political instability. Investors could be further reluctant to do business in Haiti because of an uncertain political environment. Martelly has yet to install a government almost four months after his inauguration, with the first-time politician seeing his first two nominees for prime minister rejected by parliament. The government announced this week that Martelly's third nominee for the post is Garry Conille, a longtime development worker for the United Nations who worked as an aide to Clinton in his role as U.N. envoy.
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A report released Thursday by the International Crisis Group took note of Martelly's announcement at his May inauguration that "Haiti is open for business." "But a functioning, professional (police force) is a prerequisite to move the country forward," the group said in a report on the need for police reform. The new Presidential Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Investment is a hybrid of sorts _ part think tank, part marketing outfit, part consulting firm and full-time liaison between potential investors and the government. It also aims to give Martelly and lawmakers ideas that could make Haiti more attractive to investors. Clinton will be joined on the 32-member board by former leaders in Spain, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bolivia and Colombia, as well as bankers and executives with expertise in energy, cruise line, media and real estate. The board members will also serve as mini-ambassadors, spreading word that Haiti is eager for investment. "Clinton typically talks about Haiti wherever he goes," said Edwin Phanord, an adviser to the council. "So we take Clinton and multiply him by 30."

Clinton Launches Business Loan Program (8/16/2011)

Business Week
By JACOB KUSHNER
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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a new business loan program in Haiti on Tuesday aimed at helping bolster an economy that was devastated by the January 2010 earthquake. Clinton said the first loan in the $20 million program is being made to Caribbean Craft, which produces colorful goods such as carnival masks, sculptures and paintings for export and lost its workshop in the earthquake. The company is receiving a loan of $415,000, with interest to be paid back to the program to help make additional loans in the future, Clinton told reporters as he toured Caribbean Craft's workshop near the airport in Port-au-Prince. He said the money will help the operation hire 200 more workers. He didn't say how many employees it has now. Clinton, who has been active in Haiti reconstruction through his foundation and as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, said he had been "surprised and disturbed" to learn of the difficult loan terms available for even Haitian businesses with solid credit. "One of the biggest problems in growing the Haitian economy is that there is really no facility that grants small business loans on reasonable terms," he said.
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Recently, Clinton invited Caribbean Craft owner Magalie Dresse to a buyers' conference in New York, where representatives from Macy's, Pottery Barn and other companies signed contracts with the Haitian business. She said the $415,000 loan, which carries an interest rate of 6.5 percent, will "allow us to respond to the demand that we're getting now." "The space that we have is so small, we can't welcome enough people to continue orders," Dresse said. "On the Haitian market, the lowest we'd be getting was between 12 and 15 percent. Plus we had to add to it the fees that come with it." Clinton also addressed a collective of metal sculptors in the adjacent Croix-des-Bouquets, a Haitian city long famous for its artistic community. "Over the long run, what Haiti needs most is for the ability of every Haitian to make a good living doing what he or she can do best," Clinton told an audience of about 50 metal artisans Tuesday morning.
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Ohio-based steel drum manufacturer Greif Inc., a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, is shipping 40 tons of steel parts so the Haitian artisans can melt it down and hammer it into elaborate designs and patterns to sell as wall decorations. About half has already made it to Haiti. The Croix-des-Bouquets artists said they struggled since the quake to find materials to create their crafts. "After the earthquake, I didn't have work because markets closed, and the material in the market was too expensive to buy," said 38-year-old metal artisan Jean Pierre Richard Desrosiers. "Now with this material, we can make a profit for the entire community." But supplying the materials needed to create the products is only the first step in a process that must also include expanding the artists' access to markets to sell their work, said Deputy Jean Tholbert Alexis, who represents Croix-des-Bouquets in Haiti's parliament. "Eight thousand people live directly or indirectly from the income of this metal work. If this road were better, it would make the market more accessible," said Alexis, referring to the rutted dirt road connecting the metal market to the city's main artery. Clinton told reporters that Haiti's poor infrastructure remains a big challenge to post-earthquake investment, one that must be speedily addressed by donors working with President Michel Martelly, who has struggled to get a government in place some three months after taking office. "I'm concerned. I think we need a government in a hurry," Clinton said

Haiti Gets 2 Million for Job Creation from Clinton Foundation

8/11/2011
UPI
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Haiti's devastated economy will receive a boost of $2 million through a grant from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to help regenerate the country's small business sector. The Caribbean nation is still reeling under the effect of last year's earthquake, several natural disasters before that and years of poor governance.A magnitude-7 temblor hit Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas Jan. 12, 2010, causing extensive damage, and killing an estimated 220,000. The country's Parliament, presidential palace and many other important structures were destroyed, along with countless homes and businesses. Ten months later an outbreak of cholera killed hundreds more. The money pledged by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund will go to non-profit organization TechnoServe to implement a Haitian Business Accelerator project that aims to transform small and growing businesses into investment-ready, bankable companies that can be positioned to develop Haiti's formal economy and promote jobs. Haiti's informal economy and black market in all essential sectors pose a challenge to international aid-givers and benefactors. The project is expected to last three years, a period that TechnoServe and HBA will use to work with businesses they see as worthy of investment and hope to transform them into businesses that are ready for investment. TechnoServe has more than 1,000 Haitian businesses within its sights and plans to work with a selection of 750 entrepreneurs most suited for success. It plans to "train this elite group with global best practices in business development," the fund said. "Haiti's formal business sector is very small and businesses of all sizes have suffered significantly since last year's earthquake," fund Vice President for Programs and Investments Paul Altidor said. "Small and growing enterprises hold the potential for transforming Haiti's economy but these enterprises need business acumen and access to financial services in order to attract the private investment they need to develop. The Business Accelerator will help them do just that," Altidor said. The fund says it is also working with TechnoServe's Haiti Hope Project, which aims to increase the income of 25,000 small farming families in the mango sector. TechnoServe recently completed a business plan competition called "Mon Entreprise, Mon Avenir" -- "My Business, My Future" in French -- guiding more than 80 promising Haitian entrepreneurs. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund was founded after the 2010 earthquake, when U.S. President Barack Obama asked former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead a major fundraising effort to assist Haitians to "build back better." With help from Clinton and Bush, the fund, raised cash for humanitarian relief and began independent operations in May last year to help promote sustainable reconstruction. The latest grant is part of that effort.However, Haitian politics are far from stable. Violent confrontations between rival gangs and political groups are endemic and the human rights situation is reported by U.N. experts as "catastrophic." None of the international efforts undertaken since the earthquake and cholera outbreak have addressed an underlying source of unrest and instability -- the income gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority, 1 percent of Haiti's population of 9.7 million but said to be in control of nearly half the country's wealth. Although Haiti is rich in many natural resources including bauxite, gold and silver, it subsists on mango and coffee exports and foreign aid, much of it from the United States, Canada and the European Union, that funds up to 40 percent of the government budget. Despite numerous measures by aid-givers, corruption is still a major issue in Haiti.

Haiti seeks investment from CARICOM businesses (7/8/2011)

President Michel Martelly has issued an urgent call to businessmen in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to invest in Haiti to help create wealth for that country’s development and reconstruction. He has assured that in collaboration with the private and public sectors in Haiti, he was creating the necessary conditions for his country to become a natural destination for foreign investments. Haiti was on the verge of beginning the trade in goods aspect of the CARICOM Single Market when the earthquake struck. President Martelly said that in 2009 the total sum of direct investments was about US$400 million, most of it from the telecommunications sector. He said he was hopeful that in 10 years, with the new policies in place, that amount would reach US$4 billion.
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“We believe in investments and its capacity to contribute to build a solid and correct vision of the future of Haiti. We believe in human capacity and in education because it is through educated men, women and children with a same vision, that we will be able to build this future as dreamed by Toussaint Louverture and Alexandre Petion,” he said. The Haitian President has expressed gratitude to CARICOM for the preferential arrangement for some Haitian products entering the CARICOM market. The three-year, non–reciprocal preferential arrangement took effect from January 1 this year, following agreement at the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in December 2010.

Italy and Fashion-ABLE Support for Haiti (7/8/2011)

Huffington Post
By Evie Evangelou
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Italy, the country of the Mecca of the Milano Prêt-a-porter has become the launching ground for Fashion-ABLE Haiti, an initiative of the Embassy of Haiti in Rome. This project promises to create jobs and give the opportunity to thousands of Haitians in the sectors of textile and handicrafts, to create a better life for themselves and a better country as a whole. This project proposes to Italian designers the opportunity to produce some of their products in Haiti, to be sold tax-free in the United States, based on the Hope/Help bill voted by American Congress, to facilitate employment in Haiti for the next eighteen years.
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Fashion-ABLE Haiti launches and the program will be revealed during AltaRoma, the annual fashion week for young designers in Rome, July 9th , 2011. The event is produced by the Municipality of Rome and Vogue Italia. The President of AltaRoma, Sylvia Fendi and its Vice President, Valeria Mangani are both great supporters of the Embassy's events and projects. "We think that AltaRoma is a great venue not only to launch our program but to also showcase a small collection by Stella Jean, a wonderful designer who is half Italian-half Haitian and to feature a few pieces from Haitian Designers (from Haiti and the Diaspora) identified by the Fashion-ABLE Haiti pre-feasibility study" said H.E. Ambassador Geri Benoit ,actual Ambassador of Haiti to Italy. Fashion-ABLE Haiti takes its strength from the commitment of world leaders like former President Bill Clinton, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Luis Alberto Moreno, actual President of Inter American Bank of Development (IADB) to help Haitians create more favorable living conditions all through the Expression of Fashion.

UN Report: Haiti Needs Direct Investment (BET - 6/28/2011)

By Hortense M. Barber
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Since last year’s devastating earthquake, Haiti has received billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. But, according to a new report from the Office of the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti, what the country really needs right now is direct investment from international donors to help with job creation and basic services in the nation. “To revitalize Haitian institutions, we must channel money through them,” the report, entitled “Has Aid Changed: Channeling Assistance to Haiti Before and After the Earthquake," states. “We have heard from the Haitian people time and again that creating jobs and supporting the government to ensure access to basic services are essential to restoring dignity.” Between 2009 and 2010, aid to the nation increased from $1.12 billion to $3.27 billion. But following the earthquake, a vast majority of aid — 99 percent —was dispersed through humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross. With a struggling economy and more than 80 percent of citizens living below poverty line, Haitians and public and private Haitian institutions will benefit more by partnering directly with donors, the report concludes. Such action will require “close partnerships between donors and Haitian institutions, based on open discussions,” the report states.
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These findings echo a similar sentiment President Michel Martelly made during his recent trip to the United States to meet with members of the Haitian Diaspora. “It is important that you understand, you Haitians, you cannot expect Haiti to be good to go back ... you need to put [it] together, you must be the first tourists,” he told audience members at a New York event on Sunday. “We need investors to create jobs, to have sustainable development, to get out of the assistantship.” The office that produced the report, co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton, is charged with examining the effectiveness of international donations to the nation’s recovery efforts following last year’s quake that killed 200,000 and left more than one million people homeless.

BTC to Expand Submarine Fiber Optic Cable Network (6/17/2011)

By INDERIA SAUNDERS
NG Business Reporter
inderia@nasguard.com
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The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is planning an expansion of its $6 million submarine fiber optic cables, Guardian Business can confirm — a move set to maximize revenue at the company. “We are going to make a significant investment into expanding the capacity of the Miami cable,” BTC chief executive Geoff Houston confirmed. “And we’re looking at investing on expanding the capacity of the Haiti cable. “We expect to be able to do both of those this year and that will provide new sources of revenue opportunity for the company.” In 2006, BTC ran a submarine fiber optic cable to the expanding Haiti market through a partnership arrangement with phone company Teleco D’Haiti, transmitting data traffic out of Haiti into The Bahamas and from The Bahamas to the U.S. The Bahamas Domestic Submarine Network is a high-tech, underwater highway that BTC had a lock on as the owner of the only cable of its kind terminating in Haiti. By all estimates as many as three million residents use cell phones in Haiti and getting communication in and out of the country has been key in the last several years. Houston said BTC was in a good position to facilitate that communication.
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“If you’re in Haiti for example and you want to get off the island, you can come via our Haiti link into Miami and out,” he explained to Guardian Business. “We would sell capacity to those carriers in Haiti and, similarly, carriers looking to get into Haiti, we would sell them capacity going the other way. “So it’s quite a significant opportunity, given that there aren’t many others providing those services into Haiti, so the business is in a unique position to provide those services [and] we are just going to try and leverage that position more.” While he wouldn’t provide a specific investment amount, Houston said it would definitely be a “few million.” The determining factor would depend on the capacity of the new cables, which BTC is currently still trying to finalize. The cable itself - which runs from Inagua to Haiti’s holding point - was affected in 2010’s deadly earthquake when the center that houses the operating equipment was damaged. Connectivity has since been restored. Cable and Wireless Communications, which recently purchased 51 percent of BTC, outlined in its business plan intentions to maximize “opportunities of The Bahamas-Haiti cable link tapping into CWC’s global carrier services business.” However, it won’t be without competition. Digicel has tapped into that market and boasted around 500,000 customers in its first year, according to reports. Their customer base has grown to around 2.6 million customers in Haiti.

In Haiti, A Low-Wage Job Is Better Than None (NPR - 6/14/2011)

By Corey Flintoff
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The Haitian government is hoping that a preferential trade deal with the U.S. will help lure manufacturing jobs to Haiti. Jeans made at this factory can be shipped to the U.S. duty-free. In the United States, an unemployment rate nearing 9 percent is serious cause for concern. In Haiti, 19 percent would be a cause for jubilation. In the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, employment as Americans know it barely exists. Statistics are difficult to pin down for the Caribbean nation, but some estimates put Haiti's unemployment rate as high as 70 percent. Haitian political leaders and businessmen are hoping that trade legislation passed by the U.S. Congress last fall will be the engine for tens of thousands of new jobs. The trade incentive, called HOPE II, allows Haiti to export most of its manufactured goods to the U.S. without paying tariffs. That includes products that are assembled in Haiti from parts or materials that are made in other countries. "No other country has the opportunity to do that," says Georges Sassine, the president of the Haitian Association of Industries. "You bring all your raw materials into Haiti, transform them into garments and whatever, and come into the U.S. without paying duty. For jeans, for instance, it's a 32 percent savings."
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Sassine says the prospect of cheap labor and duty-free export to the U.S. has attracted the attention of foreign investors, especially garment-makers from Asia. But for now, on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the country's teeming capital, life without a job is an all-day, every day scramble to turn something — anything — into money or barter. Men and boys dodge the crawling traffic, wiping down moving cars in the hope of making a few coins. People line the streets to hawk mangos and fried plantains, plastic water bottles refilled with juice, phone cards, hand-me-down baby clothes — anything that can be sold or traded with people as poor as themselves. "A catastrophe," exclaims Ilfere Paris, a street cleaner, describing his life when he did not have work. With a wife and four kids, he had nothing to feed them. Haiti has no social safety net, no unemployment insurance, no state-supported health care, no food security other than that provided by foreign relief organizations such as the World Food Program, the Red Cross and CARE.
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In a place where destitution is the norm, Paris has what is considered a good job. He is part of a blue-capped crew cleaning refuse from the streets of Carrefour-Feuilles, a hillside slum in Port-au-Prince. The men shovel furiously amid the reeking garbage, conscious that a lot of people on the crowded streets around them would gladly take their places. It is hot, filthy work, but only four hours a day, for which Paris earns 111 gourdes, or about $2.75. That is $1 more than Haiti's minimum wage, which has stayed at around $1.75 for 20 years. Parliament recently agreed to more than double that to $5 a day, but the law is not yet in effect. The job is part of a project sponsored by the United Nations Development Program. To make employment available to as many people as possible, Paris' crew must share the workload with another group, working one month on, one month off. The rest of the time, he returns to the streets to hustle a living.
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For workers lucky enough, there are jobs at the neaby JMB mango plant. Workers in blue JMB T-shirts are on their feet all day, eyes and hands moving fast to sort the green fruit and pack it carefully so it doesn't get bruised on its way to markets in the U.S. Bernard Craan, an executive at the Haitian-owned company, says the wage for these workers is about $3 a day. "It is not a very well-paid industry. It is very labor intensive, and most of them work only six months a year," he says. To get by in Haiti at that rate, Craan says, takes the earnings of two working parents, and even that doesn't go far. "They can have one hot meal a day with that – I'm speaking of the family. They are paying their rent, and they can, if they have four kids – which is the average per family here, they can send one to school and the three others cannot go to school. This is the reality," the executive says. Craan says he is not proud to be paying that rate, but he also cites the cost of doing business in a country with unreliable electricity and truck-destroying roads. The labor has to be cheap to stay competitive, he says.
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"In order to improve it, we have to increase our GDP; we have to export more. We have to create more enterprises, more jobs," he says. Showing off an example of economic development as a result of the new U.S. law, Sassine takes visitors to a jeans factory at a Port-au-Prince industrial park to see an assembly line that started up in January. Pending publication of the new minimum-wage law, Sassine says, workers here are making a minimum of $3 a day. He notes, however, that the pay is based on piecework, and he says a skilled operator can make at least twice that much. The sight of rows of workers bent over their sewing machines, assembling jeans that they could not afford to buy, raises a question: Will this legislation open the door to the kind of sweat-shop manufacturing that exploits desperately poor people?
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Union leader Paul Chery, a big man known as "Lulu," says that is a worry. But in a country with overwhelming unemployment, the unions' concerns are for jobs first – jobs of any kind. "HOPE II supporters are saying that within 10 years, they could bring in 50,000 jobs. We think that's good, but not nearly enough for what we need," he says. Chery, who represents labor on the Haitian presidential commission on HOPE, points out that the U.S. law contains provisions designed to protect worker's rights, including their right to join unions. Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis says Haiti desperately needs the jobs that HOPE II can provide. "Haiti will not develop with international aid, no matter how much we need it today," she says. "It's investment, private, whether it's Haitian or international, that will create jobs." Pierre-Louis says parliament's decision to boost the minimum wage now was bad timing, when the Haitian government is trying to lure foreign companies to set up shop. But she says the government can do more on its own to be business-friendly, including cutting bureaucracy and reducing fees for companies that are willing to bring jobs — even low-wage jobs —to Haiti.

In Haiti, A Low-Wage Job Is Better Than None (NPR - 6/14/2011)

By Corey Flintoff
.
The Haitian government is hoping that a preferential trade deal with the U.S. will help lure manufacturing jobs to Haiti. Jeans made at this factory can be shipped to the U.S. duty-free. In the United States, an unemployment rate nearing 9 percent is serious cause for concern. In Haiti, 19 percent would be a cause for jubilation. In the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, employment as Americans know it barely exists. Statistics are difficult to pin down for the Caribbean nation, but some estimates put Haiti's unemployment rate as high as 70 percent. Haitian political leaders and businessmen are hoping that trade legislation passed by the U.S. Congress last fall will be the engine for tens of thousands of new jobs. The trade incentive, called HOPE II, allows Haiti to export most of its manufactured goods to the U.S. without paying tariffs. That includes products that are assembled in Haiti from parts or materials that are made in other countries. "No other country has the opportunity to do that," says Georges Sassine, the president of the Haitian Association of Industries. "You bring all your raw materials into Haiti, transform them into garments and whatever, and come into the U.S. without paying duty. For jeans, for instance, it's a 32 percent savings."
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Sassine says the prospect of cheap labor and duty-free export to the U.S. has attracted the attention of foreign investors, especially garment-makers from Asia. But for now, on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the country's teeming capital, life without a job is an all-day, every day scramble to turn something — anything — into money or barter. Men and boys dodge the crawling traffic, wiping down moving cars in the hope of making a few coins. People line the streets to hawk mangos and fried plantains, plastic water bottles refilled with juice, phone cards, hand-me-down baby clothes — anything that can be sold or traded with people as poor as themselves. "A catastrophe," exclaims Ilfere Paris, a street cleaner, describing his life when he did not have work. With a wife and four kids, he had nothing to feed them. Haiti has no social safety net, no unemployment insurance, no state-supported health care, no food security other than that provided by foreign relief organizations such as the World Food Program, the Red Cross and CARE.
.
In a place where destitution is the norm, Paris has what is considered a good job. He is part of a blue-capped crew cleaning refuse from the streets of Carrefour-Feuilles, a hillside slum in Port-au-Prince. The men shovel furiously amid the reeking garbage, conscious that a lot of people on the crowded streets around them would gladly take their places. It is hot, filthy work, but only four hours a day, for which Paris earns 111 gourdes, or about $2.75. That is $1 more than Haiti's minimum wage, which has stayed at around $1.75 for 20 years. Parliament recently agreed to more than double that to $5 a day, but the law is not yet in effect. The job is part of a project sponsored by the United Nations Development Program. To make employment available to as many people as possible, Paris' crew must share the workload with another group, working one month on, one month off. The rest of the time, he returns to the streets to hustle a living.
.
For workers lucky enough, there are jobs at the neaby JMB mango plant. Workers in blue JMB T-shirts are on their feet all day, eyes and hands moving fast to sort the green fruit and pack it carefully so it doesn't get bruised on its way to markets in the U.S. Bernard Craan, an executive at the Haitian-owned company, says the wage for these workers is about $3 a day. "It is not a very well-paid industry. It is very labor intensive, and most of them work only six months a year," he says. To get by in Haiti at that rate, Craan says, takes the earnings of two working parents, and even that doesn't go far. "They can have one hot meal a day with that – I'm speaking of the family. They are paying their rent, and they can, if they have four kids – which is the average per family here, they can send one to school and the three others cannot go to school. This is the reality," the executive says. Craan says he is not proud to be paying that rate, but he also cites the cost of doing business in a country with unreliable electricity and truck-destroying roads. The labor has to be cheap to stay competitive, he says.
.
"In order to improve it, we have to increase our GDP; we have to export more. We have to create more enterprises, more jobs," he says. Showing off an example of economic development as a result of the new U.S. law, Sassine takes visitors to a jeans factory at a Port-au-Prince industrial park to see an assembly line that started up in January. Pending publication of the new minimum-wage law, Sassine says, workers here are making a minimum of $3 a day. He notes, however, that the pay is based on piecework, and he says a skilled operator can make at least twice that much. The sight of rows of workers bent over their sewing machines, assembling jeans that they could not afford to buy, raises a question: Will this legislation open the door to the kind of sweat-shop manufacturing that exploits desperately poor people?
.
Union leader Paul Chery, a big man known as "Lulu," says that is a worry. But in a country with overwhelming unemployment, the unions' concerns are for jobs first – jobs of any kind. "HOPE II supporters are saying that within 10 years, they could bring in 50,000 jobs. We think that's good, but not nearly enough for what we need," he says. Chery, who represents labor on the Haitian presidential commission on HOPE, points out that the U.S. law contains provisions designed to protect worker's rights, including their right to join unions. Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis says Haiti desperately needs the jobs that HOPE II can provide. "Haiti will not develop with international aid, no matter how much we need it today," she says. "It's investment, private, whether it's Haitian or international, that will create jobs." Pierre-Louis says parliament's decision to boost the minimum wage now was bad timing, when the Haitian government is trying to lure foreign companies to set up shop. But she says the government can do more on its own to be business-friendly, including cutting bureaucracy and reducing fees for companies that are willing to bring jobs — even low-wage jobs —to Haiti.

A New Haiti Strategy: Trade not Aid (Globe and Mail - /25/2011)

By SONIA VERMA
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Shortly after he was sworn in as Haiti’s newest President, Michel Martelly offered the international community a promise that doubled as a challenge: “Haiti is open for business,” he said. The provocative performer vaulted to political power on vows to transform Haiti’s basket-case economy into a beacon for trade. “We cannot continue with this humiliation of having to extend our hand for help all of the time,” he said in his inaugural speech earlier this month. Why Canada should deepen its ties with Mexico Yet for years, the international community has responded to Haiti’s staggering needs with handouts instead of investment, partly because of its tenuous political climate. Haiti is the largest recipient of Canada’s foreign aid, this year surpassing Afghanistan. Even before the country’s devastating earthquake in 2010, Ottawa has stood at the forefront of efforts to stabilize the country, funnelling more than a billion dollars of aid to Haiti in the past six years alone. Now, with a newly-installed Haitian president encouraging foreign investment, there is growing pressure for Canada to lead the way in redefining the international community’s dealings with Haiti. Experts say Canada should seek to answer Mr. Martelly’s call by forging a new relationship with Haiti based on trade, not aid.
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“I believe the time has come for a major shift from the logic of assistance that prevailed for decades in Haiti and that has not delivered anything, but created a situation of dependency,” said Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s former governor-general who currently serves as UNESCO’s special envoy for Haiti. “What it has created – this logic of assistance – has turned Haiti into some kind of a laboratory of experiments and projects that has installed in the country over 40,000 NGOs,” Ms. Jean continued. Rather than targeting charity on the poorest of the poor – the 80 per cent of Haitians that live on less than $2 a day – experts say efforts should focus on bolstering the middle class by encouraging small- and medium-sized enterprises, generating jobs through trade, credit and creating joint ventures with Haitian companies in sectors with growth potential, such as tourism and energy. Haiti’s middle class, roughly 15 per cent of the population that relies on the country’s tiny elite for its status, has typically been ignored. Many fled Haiti’s turmoil long ago, lured by opportunities in Miami, Paris or Montreal. Now experts say the middle class holds the key to Haiti’s future and needs to be rebuilt. “If we really want to re-engage in Haiti, we have to do it economically. The problem is, do we have the necessary partners to do that?” asks Chalmers Larose, a professor of political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal. “In order to really empower the middle class, you need real economic exchange,” he said. Prof. Larose says Ottawa should consider creating a free trade agreement with Haiti so that goods manufactured in the country could be imported, duty-free, to Canada.
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The United States enacted such legislation several years ago to encourage Haiti’s garment industry, which once employed about 60,000 workers before suffering from political instability and competition from Asia. HOPE, or the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for woven and knit clothing made in Haiti from fabrics from third countries. Since the legislation was passed in 2007, and subsequently strengthened in the wake of the earthquake, experts say it has created thousands of jobs. Energy is another sector where Canada could do business with Haiti, which suffered from routine blackouts, even before the earthquake. "Quebec is at the forefront of energy production, so it could become involved with that,” Prof. Larose points out.
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Ottawa could also create incentives for Canadian companies to base client service operations in Haiti, tapping into its bilingual population. Tourism is another opportunity that once proved lucrative and could be revived, analysts say. “The middle class and small business owners will ultimately be the prime generators of jobs in Haiti. In a place where you have 80-per-cent unemployment, jobs are going to be essential to long-term recovery,” says William O’Neill, a program director with the U.S.-based Social Science Research Council. Retooling Canada’s relationship with Haiti is not just about striking new business ventures, argues Ms. Jean, but requires a new way of thinking about Haitians themselves. “The shift that must happen now is towards a new logic of investment,” she said. "When people speak about Haitians, all they say is they speak about their resilience, as if these people were born for catastrophes. ... I think it’s time to see more than resilience in the Haitian people. They are capable. It’s a work force that needs more investment and that can be very promising.” Last in a three-part series on Canada’s foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere

Haiti Buoyed by Hospitality Hope (Hotel Interactive - 5/16/2011)

By Caryn Eve Murray
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It will take time for Haitians to put the devastating 2010 earthquake behind them, but the island nation’s hospitality industry has already been working to stabilize the ground in which it has taken root. Out of the rubble of its hotel school in Port-au-Prince, hopes are rising, centered around a volunteer effort to salvage, and then grow, hospitality education for Haitians and, with it, a vital part of the local economy. Before its destruction, the school, L’Ecole Hoteliere D’Haiti, had been sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and “was always small and needed investment,” said Agnes Pierre-Louis, manager of Le Plaza Hotel in Port-au-Prince. “It was our only way of getting semi-trained staff,” she said. The quake, which also damaged several area hotels, wholly destroyed the school in the Port-au-Prince downtown, leaving the students unable to continue. Hoteliers rallied, said Pierre-Louis, but their goal was not to have the hotel school rebuilt. They were looking instead to renovate a sadly lagging Haitian hospitality standard, with the tragic quake serving as the impetus for this wholesale refurbishment. They planned their new beginning with the nearly three dozen students left disenfranchised. “The idea came up,” she said, “not only to help the students from the hotel school finish their term but to take some of the staff from hotels that had shut down, staff that had potential, and get them into a program so we wouldn’t lose the resources we had.”
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A game plan ultimately emerged: Using volunteer professionals from throughout the Caribbean community, bring everyone’s basic skills - from English as a Second Language, to housekeeping, food safety and customer service - up to par with those at regional schools, and then underwrite the students’ subsequent higher education off-island, at either the academic or vocational level, as appropriate. The students would commit to bringing their new knowledge and skills back to Haiti when they came home to work on school breaks and, of course, after graduation. In March 2010, Pierre-Louis reached out to Louise John, a trustee of the Education Foundation of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association. The association established a separate fund for Haiti, known as the CHTA-EF Haiti Project. The first scholarship donations for continued education at the regional schools came from participants in the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin and the Hilton Community Foundation UK. John said that’s just the beginning. “Our role at the Education Foundation has been to network with regional and international institutions of learning … and try to get financial support,” she said. John said the fundraising effort continues, with the hopes of getting more funding from other hotel and tourism concerns in the U.S. and elsewhere. Five regional schools, including the University of the West Indies, as well as other Caribbean tourism and hospitality training schools, are already on board, ready to receive the Haitian students in early 2012. The IHF participants’ donations also covered travel expenses of professionals donating their time for the basic preparatory coursework in Haiti itself. Political turmoil and the cholera outbreak stymied initial efforts to get things rolling on the island initially, said John, but now things are proceeding on schedule. Dr. Peter Tarlow, founder and president of Tourism & More, and an expert in tourism security and risk management, said he has been in touch with the Haitian community on and off in the months following the earthquake. He said he believed that follow-through on this education plan needs to be anchored in a broader, more holistic view of all the problems besieging Haiti before it can truly benefit the hoteliers’ efforts and the island’s economy.
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Before hospitality can enjoy healthy growth in Haiti, and beyond the borders of Port-au-Prince, he said, issues of politics, public health and public safety need to be addressed with the same kind of steady sureness the academic curriculum is using to address basic hotel-keeping skills. “Right now, it is not only important to have good customer service, they have to be able to provide all sorts of issues on safety and security,” Tarlow said. “You need to look at total issues of the country: sickness, cholera, clean water. They have to be able to connect their hospitality with their ecology.” Good customer service means nothing, he said, if visitors’ negative perceptions of Haiti – whether they are accurate or not - remain unchanged. “You don’t market unless you have something to market and people need to feel safe and secure,” he said. John acknowledges the challenges here. “Unfortunately,” she said, “the regional view is very clouded by the international news media that focuses on the challenges that Haiti has: disease control, civil violence, reduced infrastructure and unknown political climate.”
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She nonetheless remains hopeful. “The idea is that this becomes sustainable, that the industry in Haiti takes a leap forward in terms of trained staff. We already know that hotels that are up and running in Haiti have said if someone comes back with an associate’s degree, they will look at them for a supervisory position, and with a bachelor’s degree, they will become junior management. If they have a vocational certificate, they become a lead employee in a certain department.” Out of horror and tragedy, then, they look toward a more positive direction. “This is a platform,” she said “we can grow the tourism product from.”

IMF Says Haiti Economy Recovering (Caribbean 360 - 5/10/2011)

Just over a year after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reporting that the country’s economy is looking up. Indicators of improved performance, following the first review under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement with the IMF, have earned the Caribbean nation another US$13.1 million from the Washington-based financial institution. The IMF said the completion of the review yesterday would enable the immediate disbursement of the funds, bringing total payments under the ECF to about US$26.2 million. “The authorities are to be commended for their good policy implementation, despite the challenging international and domestic environments. The Haitian economy is recovering, and just over a year after the devastating earthquake, essential state functions have been reinstated and prudent macroeconomic policies have helped support growth and contain inflation to single digit levels,” said IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair Naoyuki Shinohara.
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“The economic outlook is favorable, provided that the authorities and the international community make concerted efforts to accelerate the reconstruction and facilitate the transition from disaster recovery to policies aimed at ensuring high and sustained growth and poverty reduction.” It is within that context, Shinohara said, that the disbursement of donor pledges together with the authorities’ timely implementation of structural reforms, notably in the areas of economic governance and the business environment are equally important. The IMF official noted that the aim for Haitian authorities this fiscal year is to consolidate the recovery and reconstruction efforts, raise domestic revenue, contain current expenditure and align the budget to support the reconstruction priorities and poverty-reduction spending in the context of sustainable public financing. “These fiscal commitments will need to be complemented by further improvements in public financial management and economic governance,” he said. Haiti’s ECF arrangement was approved on July 21, 2010 along with the full relief of the country’s outstanding US$268 million debt to the IMF. Both decisions formed part of a broad strategy to support Haiti’s longer term reconstruction plans, following the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

Haitian Hotel to Be Rebuilt (Caribbean 360 - 5/11/2011)

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has announced that it is investing US$2 million to complete construction on a major hotel project in Haiti that was abruptly halted following the devastating 2010 earthquake. The 130-room Oasis Hotel was fully funded and construction was well underway prior to the quake. While the building itself remains structurally sound, work on the project ceased when several of the original Haitian shareholders perished while others suffered severe financial losses, making them unable to meet their investment commitments to the project. “The Oasis Hotel symbolizes Haiti ‘building back better,’ and sends a message to the world that Haiti is open for business,” Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s Vice President of Programmes and Investments, Paul Altidor said. “For Haiti’s recovery to be sustainable, it must attract investors, businesses and donors all of whom will need a business-class, seismically-safe hotel.” In addition to rooms for accommodation, Oasis will have significant meeting space and other business amenities.
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Fewer than 100 hotel rooms survived the quake in Port-au-Prince, and today Haiti has a critical shortage of hotel space that meets even the most basic standards for business travelers. Jerry Tardieu, Chief Executive Officer of SCIOP S.A., the Haitian corporation that developed and promoted Oasis, highlighted that the project’s environmental and safety standards will serve as a model for future such developments in Haiti. In mid-2010, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, provided US$7.5 million in financing to restart construction of the hotel, which has a total cost of US$29 million, but more funding was needed. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s US$2 million equity investment catalyzed new funding sources for the project, encouraging large investments from other groups that closed the funding gap. Investors included members of the US Haitian Diaspora. In addition to its equity investment, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund will make a US$100,000 grant to create a training facility for the hospitality industry that will be available to all Haitians looking for employment in this sector. Oasis is creating employment for close to 400 workers in the construction phase, and will create 200 permanent jobs, 75 percent of them for women. The hotel will source nearly all of its goods and services from local vendors, providing added economic benefits to the community.
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Additionally, there will be 12 retail spaces, some of which will sell locally manufactured goods, Haitian paintings, and artisan crafts. Based on its experience and local market statistics, the IFC estimates that each job in a hotel project of this nature in Haiti, generates three indirect jobs in the community. Both the Oasis Hotel and the affiliated training facility will be managed by Occidental Hotels and Resorts (OHR), a Spanish global hospitality chain. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is a nonprofit organization founded after the earthquake, when President Barack Obama asked former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead a major fundraising effort to assist the Haitian people.

Designing an Entrpeneurial Haiti (Forbes - 4/4/2011)

By ELMIRA BAYRASLI
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Port au Prince, adorned with white, red and pink hibiscus bushes, stares at the sea. Its residents recall the tales their grandparents and great-grandparents told them about watching ships pull into the sun kissed harbor from the city’s hillsides. Back then, traders were eager for Haiti’s coffee, sugar and fruits. Today, Haiti is eager for traders. Though Port au Prince still produces high quality coffee, sugar and a rich variety of tangy and mouth-watering mangoes as well as high quality soaps and construction materials such as cement, trade is low, as are jobs. The economy is in shambles. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Many blame bad governance, the country’s dependence on foreign aid, the brain drain and a host of other reasons for this situation. But as my knuckles turned white from gripping onto the grab handles of the 4×4 I traversed through Port au Prince last week, I wondered whether the city’s, and thereby Haiti’s, struggles might also be a result of its topography. Specifically, is Haiti poor because of its design?
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Port au Prince is nearly impossible to navigate. A city on a hill only in layout, it resembles an amphitheater. Rows of houses, and since the earthquake, blue tarpaulin, crowd on top of one another. Public parks and spaces have been turned into tent cities. Makeshift and precarious dust trails on cliffs outnumber the number of paved roads. There are few street signs. Public transport is a byzantine maze that somehow shuttles people across town and back and forth into the deforested suburbs. It takes hours to travel just a few kilometers. That’s a problem in a globalized economy where mobility and space are vital to entrepreneurship and innovation. It is a myth that entrepreneurs endeavor alone. While they may conceive an idea independently, they can only execute it with success collaboratively. Silicon Valley has shown that to be true. Idolized as the magical address for innovators, the entrepreneurial Mecca is actually an ecosystem. It is where knowledge (Stanford and Berkley) has room to experiment, whether at Starbucks, a garage or one of the many incubator spaces and the ability to connect to a marketplace (San Francisco and Sand Hill Road), not just to sell goods, but to network and brainstorm. Entrepreneurs in Haiti are not so lucky.
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Especially in Port au Prince, Haitians have few places to experiment, congregate and network. Incubators are non-existent as is a central marketplace where entrepreneurs can convene to brainstorm and share best practices. Compounded by bad roads as well as weak security, the population is disconnected. Port au Prince’s successful business men and women are isolated in one section of the city (Petionville) from promising entrepreneurs in other parts. Among the thousands of NGOs in Haiti, a number, including the organization I work with Peace Dividend Trust, are focused on overcoming these challenges. They are providing platforms for Haitian entrepreneurs to come together – not just with one another, but with international organizations and firms with whom they can potentially do business with. But it will take more than the efforts of a few “do-gooders” to ignite Haitian entrepreneurship.
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Public policy, as the Financial Times columnist John Gapper notes, through investing in education and research is key. So is the reconsideration of the city’s design and planning. Parag Khanna, a fellow at the New American Foundation, wrote in the August issue of Foreign Policy about “the city.” It focused on the city replacing the nation-state through economic might. If Shanghai, Istanbul and Mumbai are global “mega cities” driving tremendous growth for China, Turkey and India, respectively, that is in large part a result of the cities that they have become. While excruciating traffic and impoverished slums continue to define all three places, improvements in public transportation as well as public services such as trash collection has contributed to a surge in entrepreneurship in each. In Istanbul, for example, that garbage is picked up and mail delivered even in the poorest neighborhoods reflects a level of not only physical but psychological mobility. It has encouraged Turkish youth to hop on Istanbul’s expanding metro or tramway bound for one of the city’s many university campuses to test their ideas. Yes they can.
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They can in a place where things seem move, and better yet, lead somewhere. Struggling to get around Port au Prince, let alone in or out of it, highlights the important place city planning and design have in an economic ecosystem. Haiti’s rugged topography makes that a harder task than normal. It does not, however, make it impossible. Unfortunately, the country’s politicians just might. As Haiti announces its election results today, it will be worth flagging this matter of design and planning to the country’s next leadership. Let’s hope they listen

20,000 Jobs to be Created at New Industrial Park in Haiti

3/29/2011
Miami Herald
By Jacqueline Charles
jcharles@MiamiHerald.com
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CARACOL, Haiti -- Standing in the middle of the dirt-poor rural village on a cool afternoon, the neatly dressed Korean garment tycoon surveyed the rugged mountaintops and surrounding bean fields as he tried to envision the future a year from now. But it wasn’t until Kim Woong Ki stared into the curious faces surrounding him that the chairman of Korea’s leading manufacturer and exporter of textiles and clothing, realized the real value of his $78 million business investment decision. “I didn’t really set out to bring people hope,’’ Kim said, as he rode away from the village on Haiti’s northern coast halfway between the cities of Cap-Haitien and Ouanaminthe. “Coming here, seeing the site and walking among the people, I realized that what I’m going to do here in creating the factory and the jobs, is give people hope.’’ A major supplier to U.S. retailers Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and GAP, Sae-A is expanding its garment-making operations to Haiti as the anchor tenant in a new 617-acre industrial park being created in the country’s underdeveloped northern region. For the first time, Haiti’s 2 million-a-week T-shirt-stitching industry will also include the country’s only knit and dyeing mill with Sae-A pumping 6,000 tons of ground water a day for its export operations. “For the first time ever, apparel sewn in Haiti will be using fabric made in Haiti,’’ said Kim, whose company already has operations in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
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With the company gearing up to recruit Haitian managers as early as next month for a planned March 2012 opening, the deal is already having a multiplier effect. Local hotel and restaurant owners are optimistic, as are potential workers like 23-year-old Luckner Peter, about the possibility of 20,000 new jobs in the area. Luckner was among dozens of young men hired by the government at 50 cents a hole to help install a fence around the property. “This is going to change our community,’’ said Louicot Alexandre, president of the chamber of commerce for Northeast Haiti, a region of about 300,000 residents. “This shows that Haiti is prepared to do business with the world, and it’s OK to do business with Haiti.’’ Valued at about $300 million, the job-creation package is one of Haiti’s biggest foreign investments. U.S. officials call it an “unprecedented collaboration’’ between the Haitian and U.S. governments, and the Inter-American Development Bank. So much is at stake that some Haiti observers mused that it was perhaps one of the reasons for the United States’ heavy involvement in the Nov. 28 presidential election debacle. Twice before, Kim had tried to invest in Haiti. Each time, his decision was thwarted. There was political turmoil in 1994 after he signed a memorandum of understanding and then the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake shortly after another trip. “We have in our business proposal a huge chapter called hurdles and obstacles,’’ said Lon Garwood, advisor to Kim. “Our initial business proposal didn’t look like a business proposal. It looked like why we can’t do business in Haiti.’’
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But that was before the U.S. government stepped in, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal plea on behalf of Haiti during a Korea visit. With the Haitian government donating the land and compensating farmers, the U.S. plans to build 5,000 houses, a 25-megawatt electricity grid for the park and surrounding area, and a waste and water treatment plant as part of its $124 million contribution. The Inter-American Development Bank is contributing over $100 million for construction of buildings and roads. “These kinds of investment deals are incredibly hard,’’ said Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, who has been credited with leading the effort for more than a year to bring together all sides including Haiti’s private sector. “They take prolonged coordination and consultation, and accommodation and negotiation. But ultimately what they really take is an audacious amount of faith.’’ It is this faith, the U.S. and others are banking on as they seek to revive Haiti’s post-earthquake shattered economy by helping the nation’s garment industry take better advantage of U.S.-Congress approved duty-free trade legislation. Once boasting 100,000 jobs, the industry has just 28,000. About 9,000 of those were created because of the removal of tariffs. Last May, a sympathetic Congress extended the trade benefits to 2020.
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Now Haiti’s private sector is hoping to attract 60,000 new jobs with the industrial park in the north. They are also eyeing another park in the south, just outside of the quake-ravaged capital of Port-au-Prince. “We are no longer talking just about garment assembly. We are talking about a true textile industry short of planting cotton. That is what is being developed,’’ said Georges Sassine, who is also responsible for implementing the U.S. Congress-approved duty-free legislation benefiting the garment industry. Sae-A’s revenues are more than doubled Haiti’s garment industry’s $512 million exports for 2009. In addition to Haitian managers, the company has committed to pay line workers at least four times Haiti’s average $640 GDP per capita. The facility itself will boast a cooling system, recreational facilities and a football field. With the construction bid package currently being prepared to go out next month, the first phase has already been laid out. Sae-A’s operations will occupy 126 of 185 acres, said Mark D’Sa, a Miami-based executive with GAP who has been on loan with the State Department to help Haiti better take advantage of trade legislation.
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D’Sa said other potential clients include a furniture maker and two other apparel companies. Not far from the site, and separate from the industrial park, the Dominican government is planning to build a university. Still, the deal has detractors with some protesting using farmland for what some are calling “sweatshops.’’ Government officials say the land belongs to the state and compensation packages are being worked out for farmers who have been illegally living off it. “We have sought investments outside of Port-au-Prince for years,’’ said Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. “In Haiti, the real tough infrastructure investments in energy, ports, and industrial zones have largely been avoided. It’s these investments that will generate the productive base of which Haiti can grow and prosper economically.’’

Instability hits Investment in Haiti (2/22/2011)

Financial Times
By Matt Kennard
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Political uncertainty and a slow-moving $5.3bn reconstruction effort is hurting Haiti’s ability to attract the private sector investment it craves as it tries to recover from the devastating earthquake in January 2010, according to major donors to the country. Many of the basic functions of the state – from healthcare to sanitation and water – are being carried out by the 7,500 non-governmental organisations still working there since the earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced 1.5m, creating one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies to ever hit the hemisphere.
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But the aid and lending community is worried about the willingness of the private sector to take over these functions. “Free services such as healthcare, education and water are being provided to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people,“ said Cinta Pluma, spokesperson for Oxfam in Haiti, which has raised $98m for its three-year response plan. “But while this is saving countless lives, it is also having a negative effect on the small Haitian private companies and individuals who traditionally provide many of these services.” The accusations of fraud that marred the recent elections and the ongoing political uncertainty have led foreign investors to question the ability of the government to maintain stability. “To say that the private sector is rushing into Haiti right now would not be exactly what’s happening,” said Pamela Cox, the World Bank’s vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean. “I think the problem for Haiti has been that not only did they get hit by the earthquake, they then get hit by a cholera epidemic, they then get hit by another hurricane, so they get hit by these disasters, and then they have a political disaster. None of this encourages people to come and invest.”
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The World Bank promised $479m in March 2010 and so far has delivered two-thirds of the funds for emergency response and construction, among other projects. As part of that total, it wrote off the $39m of debt Haiti owed. The World Bank’s private sector arm, the IFC, has put $49m of direct investment into Haiti, investing in the cell phone system Digicell alongside money for businesses to maintain jobs in the aftermath of the earthquake. According to a senior official, the World Bank will be pledging a “substantially increased amount” at the beginning of July for the next three years of investment. But the process is made more difficult as the election run-off drags on. “We are not yet in consultations until there is a legitimate government,” said Ms Cox. Another of the major players in the reconstruction is the Inter-American Development Bank, which disbursed more grant money, $177bn, than any other multilateral source in 2010. “What’s really going to change Haiti and make this process different from all the previous ones is [the] development of the private sector, and I think there’s a consensus in that,” said Agustín Aguerre, Haiti manager for the IDB. But he admits that the perception of the country as risky and unruly is damaging the reconstruction effort. “There is a big problem of branding and this is something we will be working with the next government on,” he said. “Of course, it’s difficult to launch an optimistic view today of Haiti as it deals with so many political problems.”
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Haiti has not traditionally been a lightning rod for investment from around the world, coming in at 161st in the 2011 World Bank ranking of “ease of doing business”. But the IDB says it is working with the ministry of finance to enact measures that could take the country up 50 places in that ranking, for example by improving the time it takes to set up a new firm or get construction permits. “Easy stuff,” added Mr Aguerre. Not everyone thinks it will be so easy. “The Haitian bureaucracy couldn’t be worse than it is,” said Larry Birns, director of the Council of Hemispheric Affairs. “It’s like the ocean that these fish swim in. There are no ingredients for an honest man.” A key worry for foreign investors is poor infrastructure – from the lack of a national power grid to dirt roads. “There are a whole bunch of factors that create an incentive for private sector to invest, and one is clearly infrastructure,” said Paul Weisenfeld, deputy assistant administrator in the US Agency for International Development’s Latin American and Caribbean bureau, which pledged $1bn for the initial emergency relief effort.
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To compound these barriers to investment, many of the records on land ownership and rights were lost in the disasater. “A very important bottleneck for both reconstruction and investment is land titles,” said Corinne Delechat, Haiti mission chief for the IMF, which disbursed $100m for emergency relief in the aftermath of the earthquake and cancelled the $216m in debt it was owed. “It’s very complicated and there could have been decisions taken by the government early on.” But according to some analysts, the money needed to build a functioning infrastructure, is simply not there. “If you look at estimates made about rebuilding Haiti after the earthquake, they were huge, you know $15bn, even more than that,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC. “They haven’t come up with anything like that, even a fraction of that. It’s a small country but it’s still 10m people and so if you don’t clear the rubble, you don’t have roads, you don’t have housing, you don’t have water, you don’t have sanitation, so what kind of economy are you going to get out of that? That’s the real problem.” The only major deal signed so far is with the South Korean textile company Sae-A Trading which invested in a fledgling industrial park that has been set up in the north of Haiti. The company will become the biggest private sector employer in Haiti, promising to create 20,000 jobs. It has been attracted by the favourable conditions of the HELP Act passed by the US, which cut tariffs on imported Haitian garments. Another flagship project, brokered by the Multilateral Investment Fund division of the IDB, is an initiative with Coca-Cola which has created a new soda called “Mango-Tango” to be produced using mangoes from new producers. A similar deal with Starbucks seeks to transform individual farmers into cooperatives and market it as Haitian coffee. Critics have called this the “sweatshops and mangoes” development model. They argue that a better model for development would be one focused on the growth of the agricultural sector. “They need roads, they need irrigation in the countryside, but that’s the other thing these guys won’t do,” said Mr Weisbrot.

Report Underlines Private Investment for Haiti's Growth

1/28/2011
World Economic Forum
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Haiti can achieve GDP growth of 6-8% over the next decade, if the right public policies are put in place, the national and international private sector become increasingly engaged, and support from the international community is sustained. This is the finding of the World Economic Forum’s report, Private Sector Development in Haiti: Opportunities for Investment, Job Creation and Growth, launched today in partnership with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The full report is available here: www.weforum.org/HaitiReport2011
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“Despite the challenges, Haiti possesses the economic fundamentals to experience sustained growth. However, it cannot achieve it alone. The private sector played an important and innovative role in supporting humanitarian assistance to Haiti right after the earthquake and now it has an equally important role to play in helping Haiti achieve an accelerated economic trajectory,” says Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer, World Economic Forum. “The World Economic Forum hopes this joint report will lead more companies to consider the investment opportunities presented in Haiti.” The report outlines opportunities for businesses in Haiti and measures taken to encourage private sector engagement such as the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). SEZS are areas identified by the government as fast-track zones for commercial development to be equipped with the infrastructure and regulatory framework to attract business. The World Bank and IFC are actively engaged with the Haitian government to improve its investment climate.
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"The World Bank Group remains committed to helping Haiti catalyse private investment and improve the business environment. We are convinced that the private sector is essential for Haiti’s long-term development, to create jobs and help the country break its dependence on aid," said IFC’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President Lars Thunell. "This joint report highlights the opportunities and challenges in improving Haiti's investment climate, in particular business regulation, access to basic infrastructure, logistic and financial services, and access to skills. Multilateral banks, donors, the Government of Haiti and the private sector should develop the framework that will address these challenges." The report outlines specific areas where the private sector can become involved, highlighting opportunities in construction and infrastructure development, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, tourism and energy. A specific example from the manufacturing sector is the IDB’s recent announcement of its support along with the US government of a US$ 250 million deal to develop an industrial park in the north that is expected to generate as many as 65,000 jobs.
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“Haiti has countless needs, but what it desperately requires to climb out of poverty is more jobs,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “Our goal is to persuade several companies from diverse industrial sectors to set up shop in the north, not only to boost employment and economic activity outside of Port-au-Prince but also to change common risk perceptions about Haiti, so that many more investors may follow them.” Finally, the report highlights examples of how international businesses are actively engaged in mutually beneficial partnerships designed to help grow Haiti’s economy. Under a public-private partnership structured by the IFC, Haiti’s government and central bank (Banque de la République d’Haiti – BRH) signed an agreement with Vietnam’s largest mobile telephone operator Viettel for US$ 99 million. The agreement has led Viettel to commit significant investments, including the construction of Haiti’s first nationwide fibre optic backbone.
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Case studies include:
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Haiti Hope: The Coca-Cola Company’s Haiti Hope project which is taking a holistic approach to realizing the full potential of mangos in Haiti’s recovery. Launched in September 2010, the project aims to double the income of 25,000 Haitian mango farmers over five years. It is a partnership between The Coca-Cola Company, the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), USAID and TechnoServe, with the support of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and other international and local actors.
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Mobile Money: Mobile phone operators Voila and Digicel each have launched mobile banking services that maximize NGO resources, bolster reconstruction efforts and provide Haiti’s “unbanked” population access to financial services. Though 85% of Haitian households have access to a cell phone, there are only two banks for every 100,000 people in the country. Mobile Money products will enable Haitians to transfer money domestically and internationally, and complete commercial transactions wirelessly, including using their cell phone to purchase food and non-food items from a network of affiliated merchants throughout the country. Voila, Haiti-based Unibank, and the international aid agency Mercy Corps have joined together to launch a mobile banking service called T-Cash that offers beneficiaries of Mercy Corps’s cash programme the opportunity to receive and make payments using their Voila phones. Digicel and Canada’s Scotiabank have partnered to create Tcho Tcho Mobile, which offers mobile banking services that enable users to perform cash withdrawals, deposits and transfers through their mobile phone.
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Catastrophic Micro-insurance: The millions of small-scale traders who make up the informal sector in Haiti are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. To address this challenge, Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers, has formed a partnership with Caribbean Risk Managers Limited, Guy Carpenter Micro Risk Solutions and Haiti’s largest microfinance institution, Fonkoze, to design a micro-insurance scheme for catastrophes in Haiti. The project will allow highly vulnerable Haitians to protect themselves from natural disasters at reasonable cost.
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YY Haiti: YY Haiti – an initiative of the Grameen Creative Lab, the Yunus Centre and SAP AG – intends to create the infrastructure and provide the skills needed for social businesses in Haiti. YY Haiti is a fund investing in social businesses in Haiti and also providing appropriate business training. YY Haiti functions as a self-sustainable social business that is financed through the management fees earned from the social businesses in which it invests. Once the social businesses have returned their initial investment, the fund reinvests this money into new social businesses. Initial social business investments include a cocoa processing plant and an eco-hotel in Cap Haitien. Another 14 social businesses are currently in the due diligence process.
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The report concludes by calling upon the international private sector to realize its potential to improve the situation by investing in Haiti stressing that despite clear challenges profitable investment opportunities exist today in Haiti and increased private sector engagement will create further investment opportunities in the future. This report has benefited from a broad multistakeholder steering committee that features representatives from the Haitian and international private sector, international organizations, NGOs and multiple governments demonstrating extensive support for Haiti’s potential for a prosperous future.
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Notes to Editors
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Contacts in the World Bank: Sergio Jellinek, sjellinek@worldbank.org, www.worldbank.org
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Contacts in IFC: Adriana Gomez, agomez@ifc.org, www.ifc.org
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Contact in the IADB: Peter Bate, peterb@iadb.org, www.iadb.org
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For more information about the Annual Meeting, please visit: http://www.weforum.org
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The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is tied to no political, partisan or national interests (www.weforum.org).

Private investment vital in securing Haiti’s growth (1/28/2011)

Haiti can achieve GDP growth of six to eight percent over the next decade, if the right public policies are put in place, the national and international private sector become increasingly engaged, and support from the international community is sustained, says a report launched today. The World Economic Forum’s report entitled ‘Private Sector Development in Haiti: Opportunities for Investment, Job Creation and Growth’, launched in partnership with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), said that despite the challenges, Haiti possesses the economic fundamentals to experience sustained growth. But it said that the country cannot do it alone. Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer, World Economic Forum noted that the private sector played an important and innovative role in supporting humanitarian assistance to Haiti right after the earthquake and it now has an equally important role to play in helping the country achieve an accelerated economic trajectory.
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“We are convinced that the private sector is essential for Haiti s long-term development, to create jobs and help the country break its dependence on aid," said IFC’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President Lars Thunell. "This joint report highlights the opportunities and challenges in improving Haiti's investment climate, in particular business regulation, access to basic infrastructure, logistic and financial services, and access to skills. Multilateral banks, donors, the Government of Haiti and the private sector should develop the framework that will address these challenges." The World Economic Forum said it hopes the report will lead more companies to consider the investment opportunities presented in Haiti. Among the areas for potential investment which the report identified, are construction and infrastructure development, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, tourism and energy.

Patterson tells Businesses to Invest in Haiti (1/28/2011)

The Jamaica Gleaner
By Howard Campbell
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Former Jamaica Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has challenged the Caribbean business community to get involved in the rebuilding of Haiti. He believes that country, which was shattered by an earthquake one year ago, may hold the key to regional renewal. Patterson, a regional envoy to Haiti, was one of the speakers Wednesday at the Jamaica Stock Exchange's three-day symposium on investment and capital markets in Kingston. He said with most Caribbean economies not expected to recover from the international recession in the next three years, Haiti could be the region's unlikely saviour. "The Caribbean needs a game-changer and I want to submit that Haiti could be that game-changer," Patterson stressed. He said the Inter-American Development Bank had committed US$11.5 billion to restructure Haiti's public sector, a commitment that is bound to attract international interest. Patterson said rebuilding Haiti will require expertise in agriculture, tourism and construction. Given the destruction caused by the earthquake, the construction sector will demand the most manpower to rebuild roads, schools, hotels and hospitals. That muscle, Patterson stated, should come from the Caribbean. "If we don't get our share others will take it, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves," he said. Patterson disclosed that CARICOM recently proposed a CARICOM-Haiti Fund to channel loans to prospective investors in Haiti.
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He said a technical team is currently forming a committee to direct the fund which hopes to have a start-up budget of US$100 million, with an ultimate chest of US$1 billion. Most of the funds would come from CARICOM members, bi-lateral and multilateral agencies, private- and public-sector interests and private donors from the Haitian and Caribbean diaspora. "I see major possibilities for our commercial banks, our development banks, our EXIM banks and the stock exchange," Patterson said. "We regard the CARICOM-Haiti Fund as an ideal vehicle to spur the development which is necessary." Patterson was a vocal advocate for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which was launched in 2006 to encourage easier trade and market access within the bloc. He blamed a lack of enthusiasm from CARICOM members for the CSME's failure to get off the ground and warned that a similar response will result in them being shut out of a resurgent Haiti. CARICOM appointed Patterson Special Envoy to Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that destroyed most of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital. According to figures from the United Nations, more than 250,000 persons were killed and one million left homeless. The earthquake was another devastating blow for Haiti's brittle economy, which had been hit by a succession of tropical storms and hurricanes. Haiti was admitted to full CARICOM membership in 1999.

Rebuilding Haiti's Economy (CNN Money - 1/22/2011)

A long-term, sustainable recovery in Haiti can't take place without job creation. Investing in reviving Haiti's garment manufacturing sector holds the promise of providing tens of thousands of Haitians with work. It's the goal of the Haitian government and the international community to create an economy in Haiti that is self reliant and sustainable over the long run. As part of that process, planners are looking at sectors of the Haitian economy that have had success in the past. At one time, the Haitian garment industry employed more than 100,000 workers. Today, 28,000 Haitians have jobs manufacturing clothing according to the Association of Industries of Haiti. Most of the factories at the Port-au-Prince Industrial Park next to the country's international airport were not damaged in the earthquake and production was able to resume within weeks of the disaster.
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Clothing manufacturing supplies were difficult to get
After the earthquake, Haitian factory owners faced the challenge of getting supplies in and products out to market. Major brands including The Gap, Hanes, Levis, New Balance, Wal-Mart, JC Penny and Cintas have standing orders with garment factories in Haiti. After the earthquake, the industry faced many challenges, the most serious being getting supplies in and shipping product out to buyers. Georges Sassine, owner of Aplus Garments managed to deliver shipping crates filled with clothing to North America ten days after the earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. With the port damaged and unusable and the airport being used solely for humanitarian relief flights, Sassine managed to send the crates overland by truck to the Dominican Republic where ports were opened to Haitian goods.
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On the day before the one year anniversary of the earthquake, former President Bill Clinton joined members of the Interim Haitian Recovery Commission, the U.S. government, Haitian business leaders and the chairman of the South Korean company Sae-A for the signing of an agreement to build a new industrial park in the North of Haiti. The project promises to create 20,000 jobs in the garment industry with the potential for more in the future. Proponents of the plan say tens of thousands of indirect jobs will also develop as the factories come on line. While the project's designers claim it will generate $500 million in wages and benefits over 10 years, Haitian laborers are among the lowest paid in the world.
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Graduates of a training program at the Haiti Apparel Center in Port-au-Prince can earn $7 US a day. But it's not uncommon to find factory workers in Haiti earning less that $4 a day. Haiti's production and delivery costs are on par with those in Cambodia and Bangladesh. On the day before the one year anniversary of the earthquake, former President Bill Clinton joined members of the Interim Haitian Recovery Commission, the U.S. government, Haitian business leaders and the chairman of the South Korean company Sae-A for the signing of an agreement to build a new industrial park in the North of Haiti. The project promises to create 20,000 jobs in the garment industry with the potential for more in the future. Proponents of the plan say tens of thousands of indirect jobs will also develop as the factories come on line.
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While the project's designers claim it will generate $500 million in wages and benefits over 10 years, Haitian laborers are among the lowest paid in the world. Graduates of a training program at the Haiti Apparel Center in Port-au-Prince can earn $7 US a day. But it's not uncommon to find factory workers in Haiti earning less that $4 a day. Haiti's production and delivery costs are on par with those in Cambodia and Bangladesh. Once the earthquake, the majority of jobs that have been created in Haiti are centered on relief work. Many of the damaged buildings in Port-au-Prince are situated in hard to reach, densely packed neighborhoods with poor road access.
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A program was created to employ Haitians in the removal of rubble by hand in those areas. Much of it is carried out in wheel barrels, pulverized and used to make concrete for new construction. It's a slow and laborious process. Critics say those jobs are temporary and not a solution to Haiti's economic problems. Members of the Interim Haitian Recovery Commission hope that the Northern Industrial Park Project will spark additional investment in the country and the creation of permanent jobs. They're also examining the existing potential in Haiti's under-performing agricultural sector as a way to reduce Haiti's dependence on foreign aid. International donor nations and United Nations officials say the process of rebuilding Haiti will take years, possibly decades.

Continental Airlines to Fly to Haiti as of June 9th (1/19/2011)

Haiti Xchange
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Continental Airlines will begin nonstop flights between Newark Liberty International Airport and Port-Au-Prince, Haiti on June 9. The Houston-based carrier will have three flights a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Daily service will commence July 1, according to United Continental Holdings, which was formed last October through the merger of Continental and UAL. “We are pleased to offer convenient service to Port-Au-Prince, Continental’s 27th Caribbean destination,” said John Slater, United Airlines vice president of sales-Americas. “Thanks to the combined fleet of both United and Continental, we are now able to offer more travel options to new destinations.” The four-hour flight will leave Newark at 9:25 a.m. and land in Port-Au-Prince at 12:15 p.m. The return flight will depart at 1:20 p.m. and arrive in Newark at 6:15 p.m. The airline will use a Boeing 737-800, which can seat 160 passengers.

Haiti one year later: Got trash? Make thread. (1/12/2011)

Business News Daily
By Jeanette Mulvey
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One year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the country is still in the early stages of recovery. While financial aid, food and medical supplies have made it to the island nation, which is considered to be one of the poorest countries on earth, many argue that little has been done to improve Haiti’s long-term economic stability. A Pittsburgh-based group of entrepreneurs is trying to change that. Known as THREAD (The Haitian Redevelopment Directive), the organization is committed to building a factory that turns discarded plastic bottles into fabric for use in high-performance apparel. They hope the factory will be operational by year-end. The Haitian factory, which plans to initially employ 10 to 15 workers and pay them a fair wage, would be able to supply the fabric to end users at a lower cost than companies located in other parts of the world, while providing jobs and a de facto sanitation system for Haiti’s people. “I’ve been all over world,” said THREAD’s president and CEO Ian Rosenberger. “The two things I see most are poverty and trash.”
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THREAD’s factory would address both problems. By paying locals to recycle their trash, while providing skilled jobs for Haitian citizens, the business would create an economic system that addresses the need for jobs, infrastructure and hope for the future development of Haiti into a country that can compete economically and stand on its own one day. It would also provide a roadmap for the birth of a business that could be used to build factories in other parts of Haiti and in other developing countries. “There’s not a lot to restart economic engines in the developing world,” said Rosenberger, who works full-time as director of business development for the Pittsburgh-based advertising firm Strategic Images. The technology to recycle plastic into fabric already exists. Companies such as Patagonia and Nike, already use fabric made from recycled plastic in their high-performance apparel. The key to making the technology work in Haiti would be re-engineering the production process so it could be done in smaller factories. “The technology exists,” said Rosenberger. “It’s just a matter of scaling it down, producing a bolt of fabric and getting it on someone’s desk.” Rosenberger and the rest of the THREAD team — which is made up of business people, individuals from the nonprofit sector and educators — hopes to start raising money for the first THREAD factory this spring. The company anticipates it will need $250,000 for the first six months of operation and another $500,000 after that. It is actively seeking venture capitalists, angel investors and foundations interested in investing in its project.
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Rosenberger believes Haiti is particularly well-suited for this kind of export because the country already has a foundation in the textile industry. “The environment is favorable for textile exports to the States,” Rosenberger said. “And, the U.S. government is taking down some of the roadblocks necessary to help jump start business.” THREAD is partnering with an organization called Haitian Partners for Christian Development as well as with students from the engineering departments Penn State University and at Hungary’s Corvinus University of Budapest. Rosenberger believes THREAD’s "social-preneurial" efforts are the way of the future for countries trying to pull themselves out of poverty. “In developing world, you don’t hear words like ‘economic stimulus’ and ‘job recovery,'” Rosenberger told BusinessNewsDaily. “You hear about aid and donations. Those words need to come into conversation." "Creating jobs is a ladder to climb out of poverty,” Rosenberger said. At least one U.S. manufacturer of high-performance apparel, such as running shirts, thinks there is a healthy U.S. market for importing the fabric THREAD plans to produce. "People are starting to pay more attention to where things are coming from and want to buy from factories that are paying a fair wage and not exploiting the environment,” said Jeremy Litchfield, owner of Atayne, a Brunswick, Maine-based manufacturer of apparel that uses fabric similar to what THREAD hopes to produce. “There could be many companies interested in buying from them. There’s a tremendous potential market out there.”

Korean Factories to Become Haiti's No. 1 Employer (1/12/2011)

Associated Press
By JONATHAN M. KATZ
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As former U.S. President Bill Clinton looked on, Haiti's government signed a deal Tuesday with a South Korean garment manufacturer to create an industrial park that will export clothing to the United States. The deal on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Haiti's devastating earthquake will make Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd. the largest private employer in an impoverished Caribbean nation desperate for work. Officials said it will create 20,000 jobs -- though many who work in Haiti's few existing garment factories today say their low wages are not enough to feed their families. "I know a couple places in America that would commit mayhem to get 20,000 jobs today," Clinton said at the gathering in a Port-au-Prince industrial park. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the agreement will help break Haiti's dependence on foreign aid as a substitute for a functioning economy. "Aid had never been able to bring sustainable economic prosperity to any nation, including ours," Bellerive said. He called the signing "the best day of my life."
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The deal was in negotiation long before the earthquake, moving forward after Clinton was named U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's special envoy to Haiti in 2009 and given responsibility for increasing private investment. Garment factories were identified as a key area for growth because under the relatively stable rule of dictators, and before the political upheaval that followed their ouster, Haiti was an important regional manufacturer of cheap clothing and other goods. The agreement will create an industrial park near the northern city of Cap-Haitien also open to other factories. It is scheduled to open in early 2012. Sae-A said it will invest $78 million on equipment and agreed to adhere to International Labor Organization standards. The United States, represented at the signing by senior State Department official Cheryl Mills, will provide $120 million for generating electricity, housing for workers and improvements to the port. The Inter-American Development Bank will provide $50 million for building factory shells and infrastructure. The European Union is separately spending to improve roads in the region.
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Haiti's government will own the park and contract its management. Clinton said he hopes the deal will encourage other investors to move forward with projects in Haiti. We took a big step in the right direction today," he said. Clinton identified Gap, Wal-Mart and Hanes Brands as likely major participants, as they have agreed to purchase at least 1 percent of their inventory from Haitian sewing factories. An expert from Gap helped consult on the deal. Sae-A chairman Woong-Ki Kim said the deal will increase the company's capacity. Among the company's 20 existing factories are plants in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Indonesia and Vietnam. There are mixed opinions about the quality of life for workers in the factories. Few Haitians have formal work and many jump at the chance to receive any regular wage.
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The key report by economist Paul Collier, commissioned by Ban and quoted in press materials given out at the signing, identified Haiti's low wages as a competitive advantage, saying it has "labor costs that are fully competitive with China." Attempts to significantly raise the minimum wage in Haiti's factories have since been stymied. Under a compromise law passed over street protests in 2009, Haitian garment factories must pay workers at least $3 a day -- less than two-thirds the minimum wage for other jobs in the country. The Haitian congressman who championed a further increase won a rare senatorial victory as an independent against President Rene Preval's Unity party in the Nov. 28 election. The deal signed Tuesday was furthered by U.S. legislation that expanded duty-free access to the American market for Haitian textile and apparel exports through 2020. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the new Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was at the signing. The deal is one of the few significant plans toward the government's post-quake goal of reversing decades of migration from the desiccated countryside to Port-au-Prince. Sae-A has also been considering putting factories in a largely undeveloped area north of Port-au-Prince. The head of a Haitian firm that was active in those negotiations also led the government's post-quake relocation commission. He identified his company's own land near the proposed site to put Haiti's first official quake relocation camp, an Associated Press investigation found last year. Built by the U.S. military, U.N. and aid groups, the camp is largely considered a failure -- too remote from services and suffering floods from summer storms. Plans for further relocation camps were scrapped.

World Bank: Supporting Haiti to Build a Better Future (1/7/2011)

Press Release No: 008
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The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 was one of the deadliest natural disasters on record. Over 230,000 people perished, 300,000 more were wounded, and well over a million displaced. Housing, infrastructure, public buildings and businesses all sustained considerable damage. Damages and losses were evaluated at $7.9 billion, or around 120 percent of GDP. On March 31, 2010, donors pledged $5.3 billion in support of the Government Action Plan for Reconstruction and National Development for the coming two years. To date, $1.2 billion has been disbursed for program support. On October 21, 2010, an outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Haiti, the latest UN data indicates that about 149,000 cases have been reported and more than 3,000 people have died. Presidential elections, held on November 28, 2010, resulted in a political stalemate. A runoff with the two leading candidates was originally scheduled for early January but has been postponed, pending a review of first round results by the National Electoral Commission, with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS).
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In the wake of this immense and ongoing crisis, Haiti's greatest challenge is to seize the opportunity of reconstruction and to build back better. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with more than half of all Haitians living on less than $1 a day. The country has the highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the area. An estimated 30 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Decades of instability have contributed to the high poverty rate, low school enrolment and general lack of services. Haiti is one of the world's most disaster prone countries and vulnerable to devastation from tropical storms and cyclones.
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In March 2010, the World Bank Group (WBG) pledged $479 million in support for the next 24 months. Two thirds of this - $340 million - has already been allocated. The World Bank has disbursed $128 million or $11 million per month for:
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· Emergency aid (food supplements, school feeding, canal clearing, hurricane shelter).
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· Budget support to help the government close its 2009-2010 fiscal gap.
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· Reconstruction of transport infrastructure, government facilities, and rural water systems, the management of debris, and priority community investments.
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· Long term investments to improve education, agriculture, electricity, and the private sector.
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In addition, the Bank is also the trustee of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF), a multi-donor trust fund that so far has raised $267 million, of which $193 million has been allocated.
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Selected results of WBG support to Haiti:
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Assessed structural state of 400,000 buildings in Port au Prince, crucial to reconstruction planning.
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Removed 100,000 cubic meters of trash and debris from key drainage canals in Port-au-Prince, reducing flood risk to camps in the capital.
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Provided 50,000 solar lanterns to families, increasing safety and reducing fire hazard.
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Provided food supplements to 200,000 children under two and health care services to pregnant and lactating women and infants in collaboration with the World Food Program and the Pan-American Health Organization.
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Funded 180,000 children to attend school and gave 80,000 school children a daily hot meal.
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Completed six water supply systems, benefiting 37,000 people in rural communities.
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· Through the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the WBG, supported the creation of 5,000 new jobs as well as safeguarding 5,000 existing jobs.
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In early 2011, with newly approved resources from the International Development Association – the Bank's fund for the poorest- and from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, the World Bank will launch a $15 million Emergency Cholera Project and a $95 million Neighborhood Upgrading and Housing Reconstruction Program.
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In light of the challenges and the multitude of actors present in Haiti, the World Bank Group systematically works through the Government of Haiti and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, and other institutions including UN Agencies, the Inter-American Development Bank, Brazil, Canada, France, Norway, the United States, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the European Union.
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Contact:
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In Washington: Melanie Zipperer, mzipperer@worldbank.org, (202) 458-2902
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For Broadcast Requests: Stevan Jackson, sjackson@worldbank.org, (202) 458-5054

Mobile Banking: A New Way of Doing Business in Haiti

12/27/2010
Global Post
By Ezra Fieser
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SAINT-MARC, Haiti — Adeline Alexandre does a steady business selling Haitian staples at Fifi Boutique, a little hillside shop off a dirt street with potholes the size of bathtubs. Sardine cans, buckets of rice, jars of cooking oil and stacks of empty Coca-Cola bottles fill her shelves — along with a glaring reminder that she, like Haiti, remains in the financial dark ages. Her cash register is a splintering wooden drawer filled with crumpled bills and tarnished coins. It sits behind the counter on a gray bucket seat that had been torn from a car and dropped on the store’s concrete floor. “I’ve always done it that way,” she said. Perhaps not for much longer. Haitian telecoms and banks are racing to sign up residents like Alexandre for mobile banking plans through which payments are made electronically from mobile phone to mobile phone. The money is stored in an “electronic wallet” — the phone’s SIM card — instead of that wooden drawer. At least two major mobile phone providers have launched mobile banking programs, partnering with major Haitian banks and international aid agencies. The competition is spurred by a $10 million reward from the William and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The money, dispersed in two awards in December and next spring, will go to the company that records the most transactions. Cash to mobile phone may seem an incongruous transition for a woman like Alexandre who owns a shop with not a Visa sticker to be seen and for a country where only 10 percent of residents have bank accounts. But mobile banking has been successful in developing countries across the globe. Kenya’s M-Pesa service, which mobile banking promoters hold up as the poster child of success, has 9.5 million users, nearly half of the roughly 20 million mobile phone users there.
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The service has long been forthcoming in the developed world. In the United States, banks have seen an uptick in the number of users in recent years as smartphones have become more prevalent. A 2009 study by financial services company Mercatus LLC found that 11 percent of 1,100 people surveyed were using their mobile phones to access their bank accounts or make payments. Backers are expecting it to spread more rapidly in Haiti. “This technology has the potential to leapfrog traditional financial services,” said USAID Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei in a statement to GlobalPost. The benefits for the poorest can be numerous: Many never before had access to a bank branch or held an account. Their banking history can be used to help secure loans or apply for other financial services. It’s more secure than handling cash. And it’s cheaper than a traditional bank account. “I’ve met people who’ve never walked into a bank before,” said Kokoevi Sossouvi, who runs financial services for the aid group Mercy Corps, which is incorporating mobile money in a food aid program for 20,000 people in Saint-Marc and surrounding areas. “This is a safe way for them to have access to a full suite of financial services. Our goal is financial inclusion.” It’s not a purely altruistic endeavor. “There is a business reason behind it, obviously,” said Jean-Robert Desrouleaux, consultant with Unibank, one of two major Haitian banks partnering with mobile phone providers. For a country in which there are only two bank branches for every 1,000 people — compared to 50 or more in some developed countries — the mobile model is a growth opportunity for banks and mobile phone providers. “We’ve reached a slow growth period for cell phones, a plateau,” said Alex Bouchereau, who is overseeing mobile banking for Voila, one of Haiti’s largest mobile phone providers. “Within a year, we’ll see significant growth as this takes hold.” The country’s largest mobile phone company, Digicel, which launched its own mobile-banking service with Scotiabank, estimates 35 percent of the 10 million residents had mobile phones in 2010.
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Neither Bouchereau nor Desrouleaux said how much their companies will charge for the service. Mobile banking costs an average of $3.90 per month in other parts of the world, according to a study by the World Bank. That’s about 19 percent cheaper than traditional banking, but it could be significant for Haitians, 80 percent of whom lived on $2 a day before the January earthquake killed at least 230,000, left more than 1 million homeless and crippled the economy. “Life has gotten more expensive. … Before, three milk cans sold for 10 gourdes. Today, one milk can sells for 40 gourdes,” said Duthard Charles, 54, as he checked out a mobile banking demonstration recently. Charles has a bank account but he can’t make withdrawals because he keeps only the minimum balance. Much the way mobile phones spread in communities that never had landlines, supporters believe mobile banking can surpass bank accounts, credit and debit cards in developing countries. “It has the potential to be transformative and reach people who have never had access to financial services,” said Sarah Rotman, analyst with the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. Although other developing countries have embraced mobile banking, Rotman said Haiti has potentially unique challenges. Because the economy is largely informal, it will be difficult to find a critical mass of merchants who can act as mobile agents. Those agents are points of contact where users go to withdraw from and deposit to their mobile accounts. “You need some formality and professionalism so that the clients can build trust in the system,” she said. Merchants in Haiti “may be a little below the level of formality that’s needed.” Convincing Haitians is another challenge. Oregon-based Mercy Corps is incorporating mobile money into a food aid program that gives families $40 per month to buy beans, rice, cooking oil and corn.
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Instead of distributing paper vouchers, Mercy is sending money to mobile bank accounts. A shopper will visit an approved store, buy food and, instead of paying cash, type a series of numbers into their phone — including the amount and a secret code — and the shopkeeper will receive a message that the money has been transferred. The shopkeeper can buy elsewhere using the electronic balance or cash out the balance at a local bank. In principal, it’s a simple combination of traditional shopping and sending a text message. In reality — especially in a country in which four in 10 adults can’t read — setting up such a service is more difficult. In a Baptist church two hours north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, about 60 Haitians gathered to hear Sossouvi pitch the service. She treats them like luddites. “Have you ever sent minutes to another person on the cell phone?” she asks. “Yes,” they respond tepidly. “Good. Instead of sending minutes you’ll be sending cash. That’s the idea. Is it a good idea?” “Yes,” the response grows with the mention of cash. “Does it sound hard?” “No!” “You won't have to worry about finding the vendors because Mercy Corps is finding them for you. We will do that work. … We will supply the SIM card. The SIM is very important because that’s the place the money will be stored.”
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At this, the crowd seems confused. A man in the back of the room shakes his head and crosses his arms. The questions that follow range from what happens if the bank folds to whether they have to spend the money at one store or if they can shop around. Whether mobile banking can spread through Haiti will depend largely on how readily groups like those in Saint-Marc embrace it. Sossouvi said it’s about “changing their mindset.” “Instead of having someone put all their money all year into a raising an animal and selling it — when things could go wrong, like the animal could get sick and die — we’re trying to get them to put it in the bank,” she said. “We have people here storing money under their mattresses. Mobile banking here in Haiti will take off because the need for financial services is so great.”

World Bank Gives $3 Million World Bank Grant to Help Local Banks

12/15/2010
Press Release No:2011/244/LAC
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The World Bank Board of Directors approved a US$3 million grant to Haiti to support a partial credit guarantee program to help local banks and cooperatives restructure the loans of borrowers affected by the earthquake. The grant will also help restart lending in anticipation of a stronger demand for credit in the context of the country's reconstruction. "The project will benefit local banks and cooperatives, as well as firms and individuals, especially those who have been affected by the earthquake and need temporary relief to continue running their businesses," said Yvonne Tsikata, World Bank Director for the Caribbean. "These resources will be leveraged by grant funding from other donors, and form part of a larger initiative to revive the Haitian credit market." The grant will help reduce the credit risks of financial institutions on small loans to borrowers affected by the earthquake, and micro, small and medium enterprises and housing loans. In addition, the grant will provide technical assistance to the financial sector by designing and putting in place measures to remove obstacles to credit growth. Specifically, this US$3 million grant will support:
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· Stabilization of the banking sector: Eligible financial institutions will be able to restructure loans without damaging their asset base, since credit risk will be shared with the partial credit guarantor.
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· Rehabilitation of the productive sector: Many firms and borrowers have lost collateral and have difficulty accessing financial resources for reconstruction. The guarantees will place firms in a better position to negotiate loan restructuring with their financial institutions, obtain new loans and continue running their businesses.
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In the aftermath of the January earthquake, the World Bank is providing US$479 million in reconstruction support. Of those, US$320 million have been already provided for various government-led projects under new and ongoing projects, US$39 million were used to cancel Haiti's Bank debt and US$49 million from the Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, were used to support Haiti's private development.
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The Bank's response following the earthquake has focused on improving the lives of those affected while contributing to build the foundations for a long-term recovery. Emergency projects have included: rebuilding state capacity, clearing the city's drainage canals to avoid flooding, feeding school children, providing solar energy to displaced Haitians, assessing housing damage and rebuilding crucial roads and bridges for the delivery of aid.
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Contact:
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In Washington: Patricia da Camara, (202) 473-4019, pdacamara@worldbank.org
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For more information on the project, please visit: http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=732...
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For more information on the World Bank's work in Haiti, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/haiti

Haiti's Hotels Thrive in Earthquake Aftermath (12/7/2010)

Daily Finance
By EMILY SCHMALL
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The vista from the private terrace of the John Barrymore Suite at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince is a vision of verdant hills and a brilliant blue bay, a dramatic postcard that reveals not a hint of the mountains of rubble and trash left over from Haiti's catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake, nor the escalating cholera epidemic, nor the slums just beyond the hotel's gate. The suite named for the American actor boasts an open-air, king-size bed draped in mosquito netting, two bedrooms, artisan-painted armoires, high ceilings and lace curtains -- lavish quarters that are the jewel of Haiti's most famous hotel, which served as the setting of Graham Greene's 1965 novel The Comedians. Up until three weeks ago, foreign visitors were advised against staying there, says the hotel's manager, Richard Morse. Despite the advisory, the historic hotel, which began its life as a private home and served later as a U.S. Marine hospital during the American occupation, has been fully booked since Jan. 12, when a devastating tremor leveled much of the capital, claiming an estimated 230,000 lives and causing as much as $14 billion in damage. The disaster drew huge numbers of aid workers, journalists, medical personnel and volunteers, all looking for a soft bed, potable water and reliable WiFi.
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Some of Port-au-Prince's largest hotels, including the upscale Hotel Montana, were leveled by the earthquake, which shrunk the market and jacked up occupancy rates. "Many hotels crumbled in the quake so those that remained standing had to serve a lot of people," Morse says during an interview on the Oloffson's wraparound porch. That greater demand is boosting an industry that has been battered by years of political turbulence and natural disaster. It has also inspired dreams of catered excursions outside the city for foreign workers and tourists interested in a glimpse of Haiti's mellower countryside and Caribbean beaches. Right now, the tourism offerings for foreigners visiting Haiti are fairly limited. Cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International still deliver tourists to Labadee, a private resort port 95 miles north of the quake's epicenter, for a day of sunbathing, jetskiing and rum cocktails. The Maryland-based Choice Hotels International plans to open two hotels in Jacmel, an artists' haven 25 miles south of Port-au-Prince known for its white sand beaches. In the capital, residents' feelings are mixed about the big-spending foreigners. Nearly a year after the earthquake, 1.3 million people still live in makeshift camps. "The people from the NGOs drive around in their fancy cars and go to Jacmel, while a year later, we are still living under tarps," says Elie Elifort, 43, a community leader of a 4,000-family camp known as Canaan 3. Thirty minutes and a world away, the Hotel Karibe, with its soaring brick-and-marble lobby, intricate iron inlays and swanky bar, is widely considered Port-au-Prince's most upscale hotel. Heavily damaged in the earthquake, it reopened its doors in October. On a recent weekend, foreign workers sunbathed around a swimming pool shaded by eucalyptus trees. "It's luxurious by international standards, not just by Haitian standards," says a U.S. embassy employee, lounging poolside with his girlfriend, a World Bank staffer visiting from Washington, D.C.
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Former President Bill Clinton, the U.N.'s special envoy to Haiti, chose the hotel to host a conference in October 2009 for 300 private investors to encourage a trade and investment mission. It was a high point not only for the Karibe but also for Haiti's tourism industry, said the hotel's owner, Richard Bouteau. "There was a lot of fresh air, a lot of hope, a lot of doors opened, but of course the earthquake shut it all down," he says. After the earthquake, Bouteau spent $1.3 million for a firm to draw plans to retrofit the hotel to California building codes, replacing the brick and stone structure with reinforced concrete. If Port-au-Prince's hotels are doing well today, it's because of the city's massive needs, rather than its fine food or tropical weather, but hoteliers hope that will one day change. "There are not too many people on vacation right now, but hopefully, vacationers will start to come and replace the disaster tourists, because that will really determine the future of Haiti," Bouteau says.
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The Oloffson's Morse, a musician and the first-cousin of Michel Martelly, a popular kampa singer and a leading presidential candidate in Haiti's Nov. 28 elections, gets a bit squeamish when asked whether Haiti's woes have been good for business. He admits though, that, in the weeks following the January earthquake, hotel rooms were so hard to come by that he charged journalists and aid workers $100 a night to camp on his property's sprawling front lawn. Like Buteau, Morse says the Oloffson hasn't been entertaining many tourists lately. But he, too, envisions a time when visitors come not in response to a disaster, but to take part in Haiti's rich culture, including the exuberant Carnival, the three-day celebration before Lent, and its calendar full of festive patron saint days. "I don't think the cruise ship should be the focus. I don't think our tourism plan should be taking people who go to the Dominican Republic and come to Haiti for a day and then go back to the DR. The focus should be: What is Haiti about culturally? It's the music, it's the food and it's these religious festivities," Morse says. "Right now I'm just talking about it, but I'm trying to get a president in power so that we can do more than talk."

Haiti obtains special access to Caribbean market (12/4/2010)

A regional trade bloc has agreed to give Haiti special trade concessions to help the impoverished country recover from a devastating earthquake. Caricom officials say Haiti will be allowed to export 42 items for three years without having to open its market in return.Caribbean trade ministers drew up the list of items late Friday at the end of a two-day summit. They say Haiti asked for help in May to stimulate its economic activity. The agreement takes effect next January. More than 1.5 million people in Haiti are still homeless nearly a year after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. The country has received only a trickle of the billions of aid dollars promised by the United States and other nations.

Adonel Concrete gets into Haiti recovery (10/19/2010)

South Florida Business Journal
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Residential Real Estate Adonel Concrete is jumping deep into the reconstruction of earthquake-ravaged Haiti by acquiring half ownership of Betonex, a Port-au-Prince-based concrete company. Doral-based Adonel is shipping 30 of its ready-mix trucks and will send six employees to Haiti, where overall employment will go from 20 to 60, a news release said. It's also shipping a temporary cement plant, followed by a permanent one. The reconstruction of Haiti has been moving slowly since the magnitude 7.0 quake in January, but other companies have been setting up partnerships as well to seek contracts. The New York Times reported on Oct. 18 that Pompano Beach-based Haiti Recovery Group has won a $7.5 million to $13.5 million contract to remove debris – the first given by the nation's government. Total debris removal is expected to cost $1.2 billion.
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The website for HRG says it is a partnership between AshBritt, which has received contracts for post hurricane cleanup in South Florida, and GB Group of Haiti. It is building a camp that will initially house 120 workers, but could be expanded to house 500. The website says $25 million has been invested in the reconstruction efforts, so far. HRG’s Randy Perkins was featured in July in a video report by CNN's Anderson Cooper about the red tape involved in the cleanup of Haiti. In the deal announced Tuesday, Adonel Concrete founder Luis Garcia will assume the position of CEO for the combined companies, while Betonex’s Stephane LeRouge will be president.
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In a news release, Garcia said the two executives met through a mutual friend and decided they could better help Haiti recover from the damage by working together. “Betonex is an established, quality company that uses modern concrete products and delivery systems,” Garcia said. “Their management and technical people are tops, too. But, they face terrible obstacles.” Betonex has contracts with the United Nations, the Haitian government, non-government organizations and others for temporary shelters and new buildings. Adonel's website describes it as South Florida's largest privately owned concrete company, with a fleet of 120 trucks and 200 employees. The company says it has eight concrete plants and offices in Doral, West Palm Beach, Homestead and Fort Pierce. Adonel announced in March that it was supplying 8,000 yards of concrete – about 800 trucks full – for the ground slabs of the Florida Marlins ballpark under construction in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.

Haiti Crisis Catalyst for Economic Integration (10/18/2010)

Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J Patterson has contended that the current Haitian crisis should be seen as the opportunity to “unlock the door to ensure that Caribbean integration moves forward on the basis of unleashing our creative skills, improving productivity and the quality of life”. He made the call in a wide ranging presentation at the 12th Annual Eric E Williams Memorial Lecture at the Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, on the topic ‘The Renaissance of Haiti: A Template for Caribbean Integration’. Patterson, who sits on the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee, pointed out that although Haiti “rescued boat people, granted Haitian citizenship to fugitives from slavery and inspired other emancipation movements in the Hemisphere”, the country enjoyed no other circle of belonging except CARICOM.
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He stressed that the scale and scope of the reconstruction and development effort in Haiti should allow CARICOM and the wider Caribbean to collaborate and cooperate in a range of areas and enable the Haitian people to realize the real benefit of regional cooperation. This, he said, would come “mainly by way of a strategy, which would emphasize the diversification of the economy and the relocation of the population away from Metropolitan Port-au-Prince, through the creation of new centres or poles of development.” That development, he said, requires simultaneous, multi-sector planning involving a range of economic sectors that would be applicable throughout the Caribbean region. The former Jamaican Prime Minister said that the capacity of CARICOM has to be seen as part of Haiti’s own national capacity.
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“As a region, we have the skills, the talent and relevant experience which we are confident can make a positive difference in the rebuilding process,” he said. “We are adequately geared to share competent staff in such areas as public sector management, financial controls and accountability, establishment of standards, building codes, land reform, security enhancement and the dissemination of information to the citizenry.” Patterson spoke about the synergies in agriculture and tourism and referred to some of the plans to fully incorporate the private sector of the entire Caribbean region into the reconstruction process. “This means that the Haitian private sector, and by necessary extension, the rest of the CARICOM private sector, must be equipped and allowed to undertake significant portions of the work entailed in the recovery and development,’ he said. President Rene Preval has affirmed the urgency of Haiti becoming an effective member of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) in the shortest possible time. As CARICOM’s potentially largest market, Haiti would enjoy special access to external markets through CARICOM while the Community would also benefit from access to markets through Haiti.

Small Town Training Center Embarks in Haiti's Reconstruction Pro

Boston, MA (PRWEB) October 7, 2010
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A group of 15 project management experts composed of instructors from Mattapan Tech and other collaborators from different commercial and educational institutions will travel to Haiti this fall in a hopeful mission to offer a series of workshops in project management and to establish a PMI branch in Haiti. The Mattapan/ Greater Boston Technology Learning Center, Inc. is a small, private non-profit, specializing in computer technology and project management training. A group of 15 project management experts composed of instructors from Mattapan Tech and other collaborators from different commercial and educational institutions will travel to Haiti this fall in a hopeful mission to offer a series of workshops in project management and to establish a PMI branch in Haiti.
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A very effective team was pulled together to help make this project happen. The Mattapan Tech Haiti mission has the support of: Mattapan Tech vice president, Harry Newcomb, an experienced entrepreneur; Laurie Smith, the chief advisor; and Karrie Ann Jean, the executive director. In addition, many friends of Haiti and Boston based organizations are willing to invest their funds and expertise to this endeavor. They are still seeking support from other individuals and organizations. The primary objectives of the program is to train project managers to initiate, plan, execute and control successful projects and manage time, budget and quality effectively in the Haiti reconstruction project and establish a new Haitian Project Management Institute branch in Haiti to oversee the project management industry.
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To accomplish these goals, Mattapan Tech has organized many workshops in Haiti and will give the opportunity to qualified project managers to attend workshops at Mattapan Tech in Boston, Massachusetts as well as in colleges and universities in US and Canada, aimed at updating their skills in using the latest cutting edge PM technology. Why this initiative? Last year, long before the January 12th earthquake that reduced the capital of Haiti to rubble, the Mattapan Tech Project Management program started investigating a few failed projects to understand what makes projects fail in Haiti. After analyzing a few projects, it was clear that the primary cause of project failure is lack of funds, the second is lack of planning and the third is the lack of a competent team. That Haiti study revealed that, the project managers are not corrupt; they are stuck with ill-planned and under-financed project because of lack or no professional training.
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The role of the project sponsor is to provide project managers with all the support needed to succeed, meaning funds, expertise, etc. Unfortunately, in Haiti, the project sponsor is not really involved in monitoring progress and ensuring that the PM has every resource necessary to accomplish his goals. The purpose of several public agencies and NGO's that sponsor projects in Haiti is obscure, they select projects to set the stage for low cost or free public relations campaigns but not in fact to solve a problem. Even worse are those that use small projects to justify a waste or mismanagement of funds.
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With a competent team and a clear vision, the initiators of the program have no doubt by the end of November this year; the group will set in motion the process to solve this Haiti failed project problem. A PMI branch will be established in Haiti and project managers who participate in the workshops will begin the implementation of new skills and new management techniques that Mattapan Tech will begin to promote in Haiti. Every great idea begins from the mind of one man, and then takes the form of a project for other men of good will to implement. Whether it is the Jesus Christ movement, Galileo's experiment on falling objects in the 1500's, someone had the idea to do something stunning that many others believed was impossible. There will be resistance from the conservative wing who just like to resist change and from others who used to exploit the status quo to satisfy their selfish interest. We need to keep moving with consistency in implementing our plan.
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Last Saturday, while lecturing a group of management students on personal mastery; Karrie Ann said: "When you want to accomplish something, the first obstacle is yourself. Sometimes you may become reluctant to make a decision that will overload yourself with more responsibilities, Am I capable of accomplish this? The second obstacle is family members or friends who sometimes refuse to fully support your initiatives and often give you negative feedback. Finally, you will have enemies that will try to undermine your effort and to attack your project at every opportunity." She concluded, "You have to remain committed to your vision and your goal and you will succeed."

According to President Jacques Dady Jean, a Wentworth graduate and project manager, "Our vision is to solve the problem of project failure in Haiti and our goals are to provide training to the project managers and establish a PMI branch in Haiti to oversee the project management industry." For more information about participation in the seminar or to contribute expertise or funds to our pilot project in Haiti, visit www.mattapantech.com.

Haiti looks to private capital to power recovery (10/7/2010)

Reuters
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On the edge of Haiti's earthquake-ravaged capital, a freshly-painted square blue and gray building dabs a bright sign of renewal on an otherwise depressing palette of destruction. The brand-new plant containing electricity generators is the "power house" of E-Power, a $56.7 million Haitian-South Korean private investment that has forged ahead despite the chaos inflicted by the Jan. 12 earthquake which wrecked the coastal city and killed up to 300,000 people. Standing not far from Port-au-Prince's biggest slum and in sight of blue and white tents of quake survivors' camps, the plant is a torch-bearer of private sector enterprise that Haiti's government and its aid partners hope can light a path to sustainable recovery for the crippled Caribbean state. "We hope this will be an example to others," said E-Power's CEO Carl-Auguste Boisson, who said the 30 Megawatt (MW) power project was conceived in 2004 and would come on line in January, burning heavy fuel. Key equipment was delivered just weeks after the quake, as port installations reopened.
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"Everyone was telling us: 'No, it's not possible, we have to go to Dominican Republic and unload there and bring it around by truck'. We said: 'No, we want to unload everything in Port-au-Prince', and we did, without incident," Boisson said. As the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation struggles to rise up from one of the most destructive natural catastrophes in recent history, Haiti and the huge international aid operation assisting it are looking to private enterprise and investment to be the powerhouse of reconstruction. If this is forthcoming, government officials hope for an 8-10 percent growth bounce-back next year, after a 7 percent contraction this year due to the quake impact. But calls for private sector support have become more urgent as Haiti's leaders realize the limits of institutional international aid.
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Despite $11 billion pledged by donors to help "build back better" over the next decade, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told Reuters the money, while undoubtedly generous, would simply not be enough to rebuild a new Haiti from the ruins. He said the aid commitments work out at $110 a year for each of Haiti's 10 million people, a per capita sum which paled in comparison with huge needs in housing, infrastructure, health and education, on top of daunting humanitarian costs. "The only way to find more is to attract private money to do business in Haiti and make it profitable," Bellerive said.
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Even before the devastating earthquake struck Haiti's capital city and economic heart, left 1.3 million homeless and killed around a third of the government's senior and mid-level technocrats, the country was far from being an investment paradise. In the 2010 Doing Business report prepared by the World Bank, which ranks business conditions around the world, Haiti already lagged at 151 out of 183 economies. Major obstacles listed included the long time needed to start a business (195 days), difficulties and delays in registering property and land, and perceived weak levels of protection for investors. "It is very important for the government to address the business climate issue in Haiti," said Ary Naim, country head for Haiti and the Dominican Republic for the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, which is supporting E-Power and a string of other private investment initiatives. "The ultimate objective is to get out of the vicious circle of aid dependency for the country," said Naim. "It is extremely important ... that the reconstruction effort comes from the private sector, but also trickles down from large and medium firms to the small and individual enterprises," he added.
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Amid fears that the huge influx of international humanitarian food and medical aid immediately following the quake may have crowded out domestic private enterprise, some reconstruction-linked investment projects have been announced. They include plans for an industrial park and garment manufacturing operation involving Sae-A Trading Company Limited, one of South Korea's leading textile manufacturers, in a potential investment of between $10 million and $25 million being backed by the IFC and the U.S. State Department. This will take advantage of moves to expand duty-free access for Haitian garment products to the nearby U.S. market.
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Last month, an Argentine entrepreneur announced a project with the Haiti-based WIN business group to build a $33 million, 240-room airport hotel for businessmen in Port-au-Prince. The hotel plan, combined with resumed construction of another new hotel, the Oasis, which the IFC has backed with $7.5 million, are the first investments since the quake in the hospitality sector, which hopes to cater for a wave of aid and business visitors participating in the reconstruction. "The foreign investors are observing. Once we start doing things in a sensible manner, they are going to see the difference and start coming, either in tourism, manufacturing, in sea and airports, everywhere," Haiti's central bank governor Charles Castel told Reuters.
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The IFC's Naim said his organization was working with the government on plans to create several special economic zones across the country. These would concentrate private businesses and investments in manufacturing, tourism and services, creating essential jobs and housing and driving development. Such zones, which already exist in countries like China, Panama, Vietnam, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Jordan, would operate under their own special regulatory and land title regimes, which could cut through legislative or bureaucratic blocks and delays to business that might exist normally. Naim and Haitian officials and businessmen said they saw a consensus coming together between the government and private sector -- often bitter antagonists in the past -- on the need to seize the opportunity of the post-quake rebuilding to lever the country out of its aid trap into viable growth.
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"I think the quake has ... provided a kind of shock, and I see of lot of expression of alignment, inclusiveness, and this gives me a lot of hope," the IFC representative said. Essential for fomenting more business and investment are projects in infrastructure, such as E-Power, whose 30 MW of additional power will be a boost to the chronically deficient power situation in Port-au-Prince, where electricity blackouts are very frequent. "More power will help, because more power gives more possibilities for businesses, for example, if we can have more assembly industries, those big job generators," said Boisson. Plans are also underway for new roads, ports and airports. Everyone from U.N. peacekeepers to government officials and private investors are hoping the upcoming presidential and legislative elections on Nov. 28 can choose a new leadership that will make Haiti's "build back better" goal a reality. All agree that political stability -- in a state that since winning its independence from France in 1804 has had a turbulent history of uprisings, foreign interventions, dictatorships and enduring poverty -- is a must for the reconstruction from the devastating quake to be successful. "We need the jobs yesterday, but it's going to take some time," said E-Power's Boisson. (Additional reporting by Guy Delva and Simon Denyer; Editing by Kieran Murray)

IDB makes $20 million grant to Haiti for credit guarantee

10/5/2010
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A $20 million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank will help Haiti establish a partial credit guarantee fund to facilitate the restructuring of loans to businesses affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake. The program, which will be run by the Banque de la République d'Haïti's Industrial Development Fund, will enable banks and credit unions to restructure loans and provide additional financing to viable companies that suffered damages or losses due to the earthquake and face difficulties in servicing their current loans. Estimates of loans impaired by the earthquake range in the hundreds of millions of dollars. By aiding in the restructuring of such loans, the Haitian central bank would prevent more borrowers from going into liquidation, reduce capital losses for lenders and assist the country's economic recovery. Under the program, commercial lenders will request partial credit guarantees from the Industrial Development Fund for eligible restructured loans. The program will initially focus on loans under $1 million, in order to facilitate the restructuring of financing for small and medium-size companies.
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This program reflects the IDB's strategy of promoting private sector investment and job-creation in Haiti by expanding access to credit. Through a program launched by its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the IDB is relieving Haitian microfinance institutions of earthquake-impaired microcredit portfolios. The IDB's Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) is working on a new social financing fund aimed at SMEs. The IDB is also providing Haiti tens of millions of dollars in grants to repair key infrastructure, such as its roads network and its electricity system, and to rebuild or expand industrial parks. In addition, the IDB is advising the Haitian government on improving business conditions and assisting its efforts to attract foreign investment in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. In preparing the partial credit guarantee program, the IDB worked closely with Haitian authorities and with officials from the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Treasury. The Haiti Reconstruction Fund is contributing $12.5 million to the program and World Bank is providing $2.5 million.

Haiti Looks to Credit Boost for Post Quake Rebound (10/4/2010)

Reuters
By Pascal Fletcher
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Haiti and its aid partners are working to get credit flowing back into the earthquake-shattered economy to stimulate businesses, jobs and house building and make possible a projected growth rebound of up to 10 percent next year, senior Haitian officials said. With the help of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the U.S. Treasury, Haitian authorities are preparing a partial credit guarantee fund and leasing mechanisms to allow small entrepreneurs and businesses to get back on their feet after the devastating Jan. 12 quake. Accompanied by measures to ease bank loan restructuring and boost financing for home construction, they hope this infusion of capital can help revert the estimated 7 percent contraction of the economy this year caused by the catastrophe. "This is why we are working on all those measures to boost credit, we hope that next year we're going to have 8-10 percent growth, hopefully," said Charles Castel, governor of the country's central bank, the Bank of the Republic of Haiti.
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The quake, one of the most destructive natural disasters in recent history, killed up to 300,000 people and pole-axed what was already the poorest economy in the Western Hemisphere. Donors have pledged some $11 billion over the next decade to fund reconstruction of the crippled Caribbean state. In interviews last week, Castel, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and Finance Minister Ronald Baudin said the credit boosting measures aimed to put back into business or productive jobs tens of thousands of middle-class citizens and small entrepreneurs, who lost not just homes but entire livelihoods. "All we are doing, working with the banks, the insurance companies, trying to create more investment in Haiti, is trying to rebuild, support that middle class and to stop what's left of the middle class from leaving Haiti," said Bellerive. Also underpinning growth hopes for next year was a major program of national infrastructure construction and development, which seeks to use both institutional aid and private investment to build roads, bridges, ports, airports and manufacturing parks to relaunch Haiti's economy.
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Baudin said that after next year's projected economic bounce back, the country could achieve growth rates "not below 6 percent" for subsequent years. Castel said he was talking with the Washington-based IADB about initiatives to finance micro-industries, such as the credit guarantee fund, leasing facilities and also professional schools. "People in welding, people in furniture-making, they deserve to be financed," he said. Such microfinancing had been obstructed in the past because of prohibitively high interest charged by banks. Hopes are that the partial credit guarantee fund, to be executed through Haiti's state Industrial Development Fund, could initially guarantee $140 million in loans, and eventually more. In addition, the central bank had eased loan provision requirements for banks to facilitate the restructuring of loans affected by the earthquake, and also relaxed mandatory reserve rules for loans for residential or commercial real estate.
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To further boost financing for housing, the bank was also working on a plan to offer fixed-rate, long-term loans over 10-15 years for residential real estate -- the greatest need after the quake left 1.3 million homeless. Debt forgiveness formed part of the huge international aid effort for Haiti following the quake and the officials estimated 90 percent of the nation's debts had been canceled. This included $268 million from the International Monetary Fund. Part of the funds made available from this would go toward reconstruction of institutions key to Haiti's functioning that were destroyed or damaged -- the parliament, justice palace and administrative courts.
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Officials note the bulk of Haiti's debt -- about $1 billion -- had already been forgiven last year, before the quake, in recognition of government efforts to improve fiscal discipline and financial accountability and transparency. Over four to five years of macroeconomic stability and uninterrupted growth, including 3 percent in 2009, Haiti's foreign reserves had risen to more than $1 billion from just $17 million in April 2004, central bank officials said. The ministers and United Nations officials hoped U.N.-backed presidential and legislative elections on Nov. 28, to choose a successor for President Rene Preval, could keep political peace in Haiti and support the reconstruction. "With political stability, I believe it is reasonable to think we're going to have high growth next year," Castel said.
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He and Bellerive stressed the urgent need for a massive influx of foreign investment to complement international aid, which alone could not mitigate the quake impact and put Haiti on a path of sustainable development. But the challenges were huge, not least the need to improve and modernize judicial and administrative structures to ensure the rule of law and security in a society where these had long been largely absent. "If the society itself doesn't work well, finance cannot work well," Castel said. (Additional reporting by Simon Denyer and Guy Delva; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

UnderSea Recovery Corporation Invited to Port-au-Prince

9/22/2010
UnderSea Recovery Corporation
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UnderSea Recovery Corporation ("UNSR") (Pink Sheets:LGAL) announced today that it has been invited to meet with the senior government officials of the Republic of Haiti on Friday, September 24, 2010 in the capital city of Port-au-Prince to sign a Joint Venture and License Agreement for the search and recovery of shipwrecks in the territorial waters of the Republic. The CEO of UNSR and a three-member team of associates spent six days in Haiti (September 8-13). During this trip, a press conference was held by Haitian government officials announcing the intent of the Republic of Haiti to sign an agreement with UNSR.
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In the press conference held on Thursday, September 9th in Cap-Haitien, it was announced by governmental representatives that UNSR would be attending a meeting in Port-au-Prince with the Republic of Haiti's senior officials. This is the meeting scheduled for this Friday. UNSR has been assured that the Haitian government intends to move forward with this important Joint Venture and License Agreement. In making this announcement, Herbert Leeming, UNSR's CEO, stated: "UNSR is obviously elated with this meeting and the proposed historic agreement with the Republic of Haiti. We pledge to move forward to begin operations in Haiti this year. We are confident this exciting development will prove to be extremely valuable for the government and, more importantly, the people of Haiti. We will not only be conducting our mainstream business of historic shipwreck recovery in Haiti, but we also plan to help bring other business ventures into Haiti which we believe will be highly beneficial to the overall economy and provide jobs and new sources of financing for the citizens of Haiti. We will release information about these additional projects as they become available. We see our involvement in Haiti as a long-term partnership with the national and local governments of Haiti and the people of Haiti as we move forward with this important partnership this year."
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About the Company: The Company is engaged in the business of locating and recovering historical shipwrecks, primarily those from the 15th through 19th centuries, and other cultural resources (artifacts and other objects of historical and archaeological interest) from the world's oceans and large lakes by applying advanced technologies in an environmentally responsible manner.
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CONTACT: UnderSea Recovery Corporation Bobby Goldman, VP - Business Development 212-628-8777 (404) 826-1164 bobby777@rcn.com P.O. Box 28961 Atlanta, GA 30358

Haitian Government Signs Two MOUs (9/20/2010)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release .
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills,
Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive,
And French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
At The Signing of Two Memoranda of Understanding Regarding Haiti Recovery Projects
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MS. MILLS: Well, welcome. Welcome, everyone. We appreciate you all being here this afternoon as we are celebrating on behalf of the Government of Haiti the signing of two memorandums that we will be doing today, so we ask that everybody stay through both memorandas. My name is Cheryl Mills. I am the Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary Clinton, and I have the honor of serving on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. And on behalf of the Government of Haiti, we are happy to host this event. At the podium today – and they will all be signing the first memorandum, and the first memorandum is commemorating the partnership with the Government of Haiti to invest in an industrial park in the Port-au-Prince region. We are looking forward to the signing, and here with us today we have Prime Minister Bellerive on behalf of the Government of Haiti; we have Secretary Clinton on behalf of the United States Government; we have Luis Moreno, on behalf of the Inter-American Development Bank; we have Lars Thunell, who is the executive vice president and CEO of the International Finance Corporation, which is the investment arm of the World Bank; and we also have the managing director from the World Bank here, Sri Indrawati. She is managing director and we’re grateful for her presence. She is also the former finance minister of Indonesia.
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And last but not least, and indeed most importantly, we have Chairman Kim from Sae-A Trading, who has flown in just today from Korea to be a part of the signing of a partnership on behalf of an international and industrial park in the Port-au-Prince region. And we are very much looking forward to this partnership and what it will mean for jobs and economic development and growth for the people of Haiti. If you all will now sign.
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PARTICIPANT: I’ll sign. (Laughter.)
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PARTICIPANT: The best part.
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SECRETARY CLINTON: The best part.
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(The Memorandum of Understanding was signed.)
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MS. MILLS: Thank you all very much. We are grateful for the signing and we are looking forward to the opportunity to see up to 18,000 jobs that potentially will come to the country of Haiti through the work that Sae-A is going to be doing in Haiti, as well as through other partners who will be coming to work in an industrial park. We are going to use this as an opportunity to let you all say a few words to each other, and then we are going to preset for the next signing. Thank you all. (Applause.)
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PRIME MINISTER BELLERIVE: So don’t worry, I will be very, very short. I just want to thank everybody that was involved – were involved in that signature. It’s a great day for Haiti today. All the public (inaudible) that we are requesting for our partners, it’s aimed at only that – creating jobs in Haiti, creating the conditions to create more jobs in Haiti. And I really want to thank first the U.S. State Department that were fantastic in helping us consolidate that signature today. I want to thank all the partners at the IDB, (inaudible) and mainly Chairman Kim that came several time in Haiti to personally see how he can create a job, how he can take advantage of the (inaudible) legislations.
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And really, the Haitian people, we are very grateful from that decision that you took, and we are sure that you’re not going to regret it and that the other one that are in line, looking at what you’re going to do, are going to run in Haiti to invest also and to create job and to create wealth for them and for the Haitian people. So, thank you, everybody, for that marvelous moment. I believe that what you are doing since we tried to coordinate all the help after the earthquake is one of the first great news that we have today, after the announcements. But we need private investment in Haiti to get out of the situation that we are today. Thank you so much.
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(Applause.)
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MS. MILLS: It is my pleasure to announce the signing of the second memorandum today on behalf of the Government of Haiti, which is a memorandum that is commemorating the partnership with the Government of Haiti, the United States, and France in the rebuilding of the General Hospital at the – I mean, the General University Hospital in Port-au-Prince. And so our partners here today: representing the United States is Secretary Clinton; representing the Government of Haiti is Prime Minister Bellerive; and representing France is Foreign Minister Kouchner.
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And so if you all would kindly sign, and then if you would like to say a few words, we would ask the prime minister and then the Secretary and the foreign minister too.
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(The Memorandum of Understanding was signed.)
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MS. MILLS: So thank you all for committing up to $50 million on behalf of this investment in Haiti and on behalf of the people of Haiti, and I’d like to invite the prime minister first to say a few remarks if he’d like.
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PRIME MINISTER BELLERIVE: I’ll just say it was a great day for Haiti, creating new jobs. But it’s also a great day when we see the coordination and cooperation between the partners of Haiti are working together to support the Haitian plan. And it’s what we have done today, a cooperation towards something essential for Haiti health. And I thank really France and the United States to support so clearly the Haitian plan to support, to give more health, to the Haitians. Thank you, again.
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MS. MILLS: Why don’t I ask – Foreign Minister Kouchner?
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FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: (Inaudible.) Thank you for speaking English. (Laughter.) This is a place where they are all speaking French but one. (Laughter.) Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
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(Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to say how happy I am to be able to sign this document between Madam Clinton and the prime minister. I would like to say two things. First of all, after this terrible catastrophe in Haiti, a lot of effort has been done, and a lot of effort called action plan that must be coordinated. Without coordination we’ll be very disappointed with the results, so it is an excellent idea to have this cooperation among the three of us for the University Hospital. It’s a training and teaching hospital as well.
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The second thing I wanted to mention here is that you – some of you say that the building of this hospital is very slow going on in Haiti and how come with so much money poured into Haiti there’s no visible progress? Those who do not know the extent of the disaster, the size of the disaster, and the need to exchange lots of ideas, to think, to talk about city planning, to talk about renewing everything, to adopt a new model of development – not the old one. New structures are being proposed. That’s what the minister has been doing and that’s what President Preval does too. And also, all that takes time. Yes, a lot of effort has been made, a lot of money poured into Haiti, but this cannot – the results cannot be visible immediately.
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And I also wanted to say something about public health, but public health is not a vague notion; it’s a very clear idea. It’s an idea – a general idea, and then a political idea – public health. And this will allow either to prevent or treat disease for every and each Haitian through this University Hospital, and I’m very happy to be able to work with Mrs. Clinton on this. But there will be something lacking in this hospital, although we have decided that the structure and the materials necessary and the functioning of the hospital would be taken care of by others.
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What we need is a public health plan and health insurance, because what makes a hospital work well is that the poor have access to the hospital. That’s the important thing. And if not – if all Haitians do not have access to this hospital, the hospital will not be working well. So we need to work, and the prime minister knows it. We may work about access to care; in other words, creating health insurance. And I’m very happy that we have started working together here, and that this wonderful hospital that we’re going to build will tend to every Haitian in the country – the big ones and the small ones too. Thank you very much.
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(Applause.)
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SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s always a pleasure to be here with my colleagues, Dr. Kouchner and Prime Minister Bellerive. And in a few minutes, there will be a special session of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission that will be meeting to take the measure of the progress that has been made in Haiti since the earthquake and to renew our own commitment to the hard work that lies ahead that Minister Kouchner just referred to.
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In the wake of the terrible quake, many spoke about the need, not only to rebuild what was lost, but to fundamentally re-imagine the Haitian landscape by building a stronger economy, better infrastructure, and a sturdier social system, not just in Port-au-Prince but nationwide. And the two MOUs that have been signed today will support that effort. They will encourage progress in two areas that are key to Haiti’s long-term recovery: creating jobs and providing a foundation for rebuilding the country’s health system.
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The first Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Haiti, the United States Government, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and Sae-A Trading Company, is designed to establish an industrial park and a garment manufacturing operation in Haiti with the potential to create more than 10,000 permanent jobs. And these are not just any jobs; these are good jobs with fair pay that adhere to international labor standards. And the impact on Haiti’s economy has enormous potential for being significant and sending a message that Haiti is open for business again.
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And we look forward to working with our partners in the private sector to leverage capital and create these jobs, and with them, the better lives that Haitians are seeking for themselves and their families. The second Memorandum of Understanding, which the prime minister, the foreign minister, and I just signed on behalf of the U.S., French, and Haitian Governments, commits us each to help rebuild the University Hospital of Haiti. This hospital is the central public hospital for Port-au-Prince and it is the country’s main teaching hospital.
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Since January 12th, it has been serving thousands of people, even though it is crippled by physical damage, limited equipment, limited electrical and other critical services. The United States and France will each invest $25 million to rebuild this hospital, to create a facility that meets the needs of the Haitian people, and the Haitian Government will contribute $3.2 million in funding. This work is important and there is no time to waste. As we saw on the front page of the New York Times today, people are suffering. They need jobs, they need health care, they need us – their own government and the international community – to follow through on our promises and translate our good intentions to real concrete progress on the ground.
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I’m looking forward to the upcoming session of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. It is very important to keep in mind what both the prime minister and the foreign minister said, that the extent of the devastation was enormous, and those who expect progress immediately are unrealistic and doing a disservice to the many people who are working so hard. But to expect less than concerted effort every day that produces results would be a great tragedy. So we will work hard with all of you, and we especially thank our private sector partners and the financing teams that have put together the first memorandum. And we look forward to seeing the progress that can come with the second memorandum in a tangible demonstration of our commitment to the Haitian people. So thank you very much, Prime Minister, and thank you my friend, and to all of you who helped make this day possible. Thank you.
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(Applause.)
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MS. MILLS: Thank you all very much. The meeting of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission will start shortly. We appreciate everyone being here.

New Hotels Lead Haiti’s Recovery (9/20/2010)

This yet-to-be-named hotel at the Port-Au-Prince airport opens in mid-2012. The hotel industry has become an important catalyst in Haiti’s recovery from the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean country last January. At least two hotels, including one ground-up construction, are under development. Perhaps the most ambitious project is a 240-room conference hotel that’s scheduled to start construction later this year near the capital Port-Au-Prince’s airport. A group that includes an Argentinean entrepreneur and a Haiti-based conglomerate are developing the hotel, which should open in mid-2012. The $33-million property will be self-contained with an on-site power plant and water treatment and sewage facilities. No name or brand has been announced for the hotel.
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U.S.-based OBM International is designing the hotel, which will be built using a combination of standard construction methods and pre-fabricated processes. The property will have meeting space for 400, several f&b outlets, fitness center, pool and spa. Wisely, it will be built to meet or exceed all international earthquake standards, says OBM. “We recognize the importance of having facilities that can house individuals during the rebuilding process,” says Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, one of the developers. “It’s currently extremely challenging to secure accommodation since so much of the infrastructure was decimated by the earthquake.”
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That problem—finding a place to stay—is one of the biggest challenges Nikolas Eastwick-Field is facing as he and his firm, NEF&JM Associates, help in the redevelopment of The Hotel Villa St. Louis, a boutique hotel in Port-Au-Prince that was leveled by the quake. “We’re facing a lot of challenges in the project—sourcing materials, securing financing, finding staff—but it’s not much different than any other development project,” he says. “Probably our biggest hurdle is finding someplace to sleep while we’re here.” Eastwick-Field’s firm is part of a group of U.S. operators, designers and architects assisting the St. Louis family in rebuilding its property. If it opens as scheduled in early 2012, the Villa St. Louis will be the first hotel to reopen after the disaster. While the original property had 60 rooms, the rebuilt hotel will feature 78 rooms and suites, 22 extended-stay studio suites and loft apartments. Other facilities will include a fitness center, retail space, business center, restaurant and bar, meeting space and a pool.
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Eastwick-Field says funding for the project comes from the St. Louis family, other local sources and a multi-nation funding agency. “The project has been well received by everyone that matters,” he says, noting the hotel has been approved by the ministry of tourism and the government is providing some tax incentives. A major benefit of both projects is the jobs they’ll create. The Villa St. Louis will employ 500 to 600 construction workers and another 100 to 130 full- and part-time employees once the hotel opens.

Haiti hotel planned, biggest of its kind since quake (9/13/2010)

Reuters
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An Argentine energy and agribusiness entrepreneur on Monday announced plans with a Haiti-based business group to build a $33 million, 240-room business hotel in the earthquake-ravaged Haitian capital. The project for Haiti's first airport hotel -- scheduled to break ground in Port-au-Prince by the end of the year and be completed in 18 months -- will be the first big new investment in the hospitality sector since the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people in the poor Caribbean nation.
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The project brings together Argentine businessman Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, whose Basic Energy Ltd company is a major player in Dominican Republic's power sector, and the WIN Group, run by the Mevs family, which operates the biggest private cargo shipping terminal and industrial park in Haiti. The Mevs family was contributing land near Port-au-Prince's Toussaint L'Ouverture international airport to the hotel partnership, Edmund Miller, a partner in the project, told Reuters. The January quake destroyed or damaged several high-end hotels, and the project targets growing numbers of business executives and aid officials involved in Haiti's internationally-backed reconstruction.
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"The reconstruction can't really begin until you have a place to stay for the people who are going to actually do it ... something right at the airport seems to make most sense," Miller said. More than 1.3 million quake survivors still live in tent and tarpaulin cities crammed between rubble-strewn streets of the Haitian capital, and aid agencies have been struggling to provide them with more permanent shelters. Aid workers fear another humanitarian catastrophe if a major hurricane strikes Haiti.
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The planned seven-story hotel was being designed by Florida-based OBM International and would have conference facilities to accommodate up to 400 people. Miller said the project leaders had been approached by private equity funds and would also look for financing from multilateral lenders like the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank. There were no immediate plans to ask a major hotel brand to run the hotel, but the project leaders did not rule out future discussions, Miller said. Following the earthquake, foreign governments, multilateral bodies and nongovernmental groups from around the world in March pledged $9.9 billion for Haiti's post-quake reconstruction, $5.3 billion for the next two years alone.
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(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Vicki Allen)

Young Haitians Given a Route into the Hospitality Sector

9/8/2010
EHotelier.Com
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A global hospitality partnership has come together to help the recovery process in Haiti with a programme to support young Haitians into the hospitality sector. In the wake of the earthquake in January 2010, which killed more than 250,000 people and left one million homeless, a vast international response occurred to deliver aid and relief. However as one of the poorest countries in the world Haiti faces particular challenges for its mid to long term recovery. As a response to this need The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation (CHTAEF) has partnered with a network of interested parties and supporters including Hilton in the Community Foundation, Bench Events, Questex and EHL to set up a fund to train and educate young people in Haiti into the hospitality sector.
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Louise John, CHTA Education Foundation Haiti Fund Programme Trustee said: "With tourism accounting for more than 65% of the GDP of most Caribbean countries investment in hospitality and tourism professionals is critical for Haiti's sustainability and the region's economic development. This CHTAEF Haiti Fund will look to target this area of need by initially supporting and training young people into the hospitality sector in Haiti. By working together we believe that we can help to make a sustainable positive difference in this area through a long term investment in these young people's talents."
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Following the earthquake the Haiti hotel training school is unusable, while the Quisqeya University Tourism's building collapsed entirely. The CHTAEF Haiti Fund will initially support the surviving 22 students from the course and additionally up to 25 surviving young hotel workers. Efforts will be made to train the young people with free English lessons and certified training qualifications in hotel and hospitality skills and knowledge. The students will also subsequently be able to undertake a supported scholarship including work placement training.
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Local hoteliers will be helping with the planning and delivery of the initiative with the Plaza Hotel, the last hotel left standing in Port au Prince, taking a lead role. Four hotels across Haiti including the Plaza have already offered meeting room space for the training to be delivered. Hilton in the Community Foundation, the charity of the world renowned hospitality company, has agreed to channel donations and co-ordinate the fundraising for the Fund. £33,583 has already been committed to the Fund thanks to donations from HCF, Questex and private donations.
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Simon Sheehan, Director of Hilton in the Community Foundation said: "While we appreciate how much work there is to be done in Haiti we believe that this partnership and fund is a hugely positive step forward and was a great match with both the Foundation's mission to support those most in need and Hilton's commitment to excellence in the sector. By investing in young talent we hope that these students can then in turn use their skills and knowledge to teach others and to give a real boost to tourism in Haiti."
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The project is due to start in October 2010 as the initial phase of a five year plan by the CHTAEF. For more information please visit www.caribbeanhotelassociation.com/CHTAEFhaiti.php.
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About the CHTA Education Foundation: CHTAEF is a Caribbean organization and its primary objective is to seek out educational opportunities within the Tourism and Hospitality sector for Caribbean Nationals. These individuals are supported with their academic or professional development through scholarship awards for tuition and training.
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CHTAEF was established in 1987 and has awarded over US$1.15 million in scholarships and special educational assistance to hotel personnel and students pursuing careers in hospitality and tourism. The Foundation has one paid part-time coordinator and a board of 15 volunteer trustees who give their time, expertise and fundraising networks to support the work of the non-profit. The organisation receives between 80 and 110 applications for help each year and awards 28 and 40 scholarships annually, depending on available funds. Scholarships take the form of disbursement of tuition funds to educational institutions on presentation of a detailed invoice for the named CHTAEF scholar. CHTAEF has established a separate Haiti Fund which it will caretake and administer. It supports individuals by paying college or tuition fees to the institution or training provider, not the individual.
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About Hilton in the Community Foundation: Hilton in the Community Foundation was founded in 2000 as Hilton Hotels' charity dedicated to supporting young people in need. Focused on disabled children, children in hospitals, hospices and homelessness, grants supporting disadvantaged young people are made in the UK and Ireland, while in the event of international disaster; grants are made to relief organisations at the Trustees' discretion.
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In 2009, through the Foundation, team members, guest and suppliers raised over £1,051,264 while the Foundation awarded 324 grants to 251 charities totalling £1,061,556 (the difference is from the Foundation's reserves). Since its establishment in November 2000 the Foundation has raised £8 million ($12.9 million) for charity. This money has been used to support more than 770 education projects (totalling £3,979,463) and 571 health projects (totalling £2,938,882). An additional £755,000 has been granted to relief projects in the event of natural disasters where the company operates.
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The Foundation's core costs are funded by Hilton Hotels, so every net pound or Euro raised goes directly to good causes. Donations are funded almost entirely through the generous efforts and contributions of Hilton team members, family and friends and with the support of Hilton guests and company suppliers. To find out more please take a look at our website: www.hilton-foundation.org.uk

UnderSea Recovery Corporation to Attend Formal Signing Ceremony

9/7/2010
Global News Wire
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UnderSea Recovery Corporation ("UNSR") (Pink Sheets:LGAL) announced today details for its trip to Haiti for the formal signing of an exclusive permit for the search and recovery of historic shipwrecks in the territorial waters of Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Accompanying UNSR's CEO and President will be UNSR's Vice President of Government Relations, UNSR's Special Haitian Legal Counsel and an official from the Haitian Consul's Office in Miami on the two-day trip, scheduled for Wednesday, September 8, 2010 and Thursday, September 9, 2010.
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The UNSR representatives will meet privately with His Worship, the Mayor of Cap-Haitien, the Honourable Philocles St-Fleur, Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 P.M., after which there will be a reception for UNSR at 6:00 P.M., hosted by the Mayor and to be attended by Haitian political and business leaders. At 10:00 A.M. on Thursday morning, the UNSR representatives will make a formal presentation on its proposed Cap-Haitien operations to Mayor St-Fleur and his staff, the Haitian Mayors' Council of Municipalities, other Haitian national, regional and local governmental officials, and members of the private business sector.
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On Thursday afternoon at 2:00 P.M. there will be a press conference at which Mayor St-Fleur and Mr. Leeming will conduct a ceremonial signing of the Joint Venture and License Agreement. The signed agreement will then be hand delivered to the Honourable Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, the Minister of the Interior and Territorial Collectivity of Haiti, in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, for his countersignature on behalf of the Republic of Haiti (Republique d'Haiti).
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In making this announcement, Herbert Leeming, UNSR's CEO, stated: "We are very excited to work in partnership with the municipality of Cap-Haitien to recover the many valuable historic shipwrecks in the waters of Cap-Haitien. Mayor St-Fleur is an extraordinary individual who has a great vision for bringing in business and revenue to benefit the city and citizens of Cap-Haitien, and we are proud to be a part of his vision. We hope to be able to find a number of artifacts that can be placed in a museum which will bring tourists to the wonderful city of Cap-Haitien. We have worked with many governmental officials over the years in many places in the world and it is always a pleasure dealing with one as far-sighted, capable, energetic, and dedicated to his constituents as His Worship, the Honourable Philocles St-Fleur."
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About the Company: The Company is engaged in the business of locating and recovering historical shipwrecks, primarily those from the 15th through 19th centuries, and other cultural resources (artifacts and other objects of historical and archaeological interest) from the world's oceans and large lakes by applying advanced technologies in an environmentally responsible manner.
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Forward-Looking Statements Caution: This release includes forward-looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and reflects management's current expectations. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire, www.globenewswire.com

Building Business Opportunities in Haiti (9/7/2010)

Huffington Post
By Paul Weisenfeld
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As the U.S. Government works closely with the Government and people of Haiti to rebuild their country, we're seeing encouraging signs of progress that reflect the resilience of the Haitian people. For example, together with the Haitian Government and the international community, we've removed over 881,000 cubic meters of rubble through programs including cash-for-work and vaccinated over one million people against highly contagious diseases like polio. But we remain realistic about the magnitude of the challenges facing the earthquake-ravaged country -- over 1.6 million displaced Haitians and millions of cubic meters of rubble remain. The U.S. Government is committed to staying with the Haitian people to face these challenges together and build back better.
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I was pleased to share this message with a diverse group of minority business owners at the 2010 Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference in Washington D.C. Partnering with minority-owned businesses is a priority for USAID. The energy and creativity of the private sector -- both U.S. and Haitian -- will play a key role in the reconstruction effort. It's critical that we work with the Government and people of Haiti to target the four areas where U.S. reconstruction efforts are focused and we believe can have the greatest impact:
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1. Increasing agricultural productivity to strengthen food and economic security
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2. Improving infrastructure, including housing and electricity
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3. Supporting sustainable healthcare and other basic services
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4. Making strategic investments in governance, rule of law, and security
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One of the first contracts that USAID awarded after the earthquake was to PHS Group, a minority-owned 8(a) firm to manage a debris dump site in Port-au-Prince. For pictures of PHS working with local Haitians to clear more than 2,000 cubic meters of rubble per-day, including rubble from USAID cash-for-work programs, click here. The event concluded with an inspiring story from a minority business-owner who was visiting Haiti on business when the earthquake struck. He described how he partnered with a Haitian business in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy to import 600 portable toilets at a time when sanitation posed a significant risk to Haitians. "Yes sir, things are difficult," he said. "Things are challenging. But if somebody is persistent, and if you want to work with a local Haitian partner, there is a lot of opportunity." He concluded: "If there is persistence, there is a way."

The US signs grant with Haitian Airport Authority (9/7/2010)

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - A U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) delegation recently completed a visit to Haiti during which U.S. Ambassador Kenneth H. Merten signed a grant agreement worth more than $800,000 with Lionel Isaac, Director General of the Autorité Aéroportuaire Nationale (AAN). This U.S. Trade and Development Agency USTDA-funded grant will finance technical assistance for seven priority airport infrastructure modernization projects at Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, Haiti’s largest, and the gateway for most of the international air freight and travelers arriving in Haiti each year.
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Technical assistance under this grant will assist the AAN in the development of preliminary engineering designs, project budgets, and execution timelines for the seven projects, which require prompt implementation to promote the safety and efficiency of airport operations. The seven projects, for which the grant’s technical assistance will prepare, are the construction of a parallel taxiway, airport security implementation, construction of a new air traffic control tower, construction of a new power generation facility, construction of a sewage and wastewater treatment plant, rehabilitation of the airport’s external and internal road network, and construction of a new international terminal building.
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Ambassador Merten said, “This grant represents how the United States is investing in Haiti’s infrastructure, to help it build back better. Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport is Haiti’s gateway to the world, and safety and efficiency improvements will help stimulate economic growth and increase prosperity.” The AAN has been a grantee in two previous USTDA-sponsored projects, including the 2005 Port-au-Prince International Airport Modernization Technical Assistance Project, as well as the airport’s Security Training Project. As the grantee, the AAN will select the U.S. contractor to carry out the projects through a competitive procurement process to be published online via Federal Business Opportunities (www.fbo.gov).
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During their three-day visit, the USTDA representatives met with members of the public and private sectors to conduct due diligence for future potential project investments by USTDA in Haiti. The USTDA team identified possible opportunities in the energy and infrastructure sectors, including information and communications technology, aviation, water, public works, seaport, and seismic monitoring projects

Bill Clinton Puts Influential Muscle Behind Agricultural Product

Bill Clinton Puts Influential Muscle Behind Agricultural Production in Haiti

BioTek's Regine Simon Barjon with Former President of the United States, co-chair of the IHRC, and UN Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton at the Darbonne Sugar Mill near Leogane, Haiti on Aug. 6th, 2010 (courtesy Clinton TwitterPic)

Ninety percent of Leogane was destroyed in Haiti's January earthquake that took 300,000 lives--30,000 in the coastal city located 29 km (18 miles) west of Port au Prince. 1.6 million Haitians remain homeless, and the billions of dollars promised by donor countries in March have yet to materialize. Only $506 million--from Australia, Estonia, Norway, Brazil and Colombia--out of over $5 billion pledged--is accounted for. At the end of July, President Obama signed legislation promising $770 million from the United States, but lawmakers have not established how it will be spent. Given the huge remaining humanitarian and economic crisis facing Haiti, it is puzzling that mainstream media in the United States short-changed coverage of former President Bill Clinton's early August visit to Leogane. The symbolism is significant, considering that Leogane and the nearby village of Fayette are at the epicenter of the 7.0 quake.

Clinton attended the groundbreaking for a Clinton Foundation commitment of $1 million for The École Communautaire Sainte Thérèse de Darbonne--a project addressing disaster preparedness and hurricane safety. Clinton also visited the Darbonne sugar mill, a public/private management agreement between the Government of Haiti (GOH) and BioTek, a bio-energy and biofuels distribution company. The former president, who is also the UN's Special Envoy to Haiti, also met with local planters.

Regine Simon Barjon, Martenot Neils Narcius , and Former President and UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton

The BioTek/Darbonne Project is "targeted to be part of Haiti's Electricity Master Plan as a model for additional green energy plants, including solar, wind and hydro," according to BioTek CEO, Regine Simon Barjon, who accompanied Clinton on his visit to the Darbonne mill. Barjon is a Haitian/American.

One does not ordinarily associate sugar cane processing with Haiti, and that fact may account for the lack of attention to Clinton's visit. Anyone who has driven to Leogane will notice acres and acres of fertile sugar cane fields lining the roads. Clinton has a personal stake in Haiti's agricultural projects, resulting from his regret over policies that basically pushed Haiti to accept subsidized US imports (rice) at the expense of Haiti's agricultural infrastructure.

In April, 2010, Clinton told an interviewer for Democracy Now that the United States "made a devil's bargain" when it instituted trade policies that destroyed Haitian rice production.

Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era. It has not worked. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake. It was a mistake that I was a party to. I am not pointing the finger at anybody. I did that. I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did. Nobody else.
Clinton's visit to the Darbonne sugar processing plant demonstrates a commitment to reverse flawed agricultural policies in a country where 2 out of 3 Haitians are farmers. This disconnect was addressed by BioTek founder Barjon in a March development conference in Miami.

At the meeting, which consisted largely of security firms looking to make a buck on fear and perceived insecurity, Barjon took the podium and told the mostly white, male audience that "we can grow our own chickens," while she proceeded to slam micro loans as ineffective in a poverty stricken nation that needs major investment support and not hand-outs.

Lending has been a huge problem, and micro-loans are a decidedly weak link. $2,500 will set up a roadside stand selling Coca Cola and candy, but will not support the smallest agri-business or retrofit the rusting and dilapidated sugar cane grinding facilities. Pulling no punches, Barjon laid it out: 60% of the Haitian work force is in agriculture. Food security is a top priority and it will serve to put an end to Haiti importing much of what it can produce at home.

Sugar is a huge resource, but unless there is money to keep the mills in operation, and unless the US and international sugar cane industries release strangleholds on trade, Haiti will never resume its annual production capability of 250,000 metric tons of raw sugar. This translates into $100 million a year. Optimizing Haiti's staple food agriculture products such as rice, sugar and poultry translates into food security for Haiti as well as the potential for green energy production. As food and electricity become more affordable for Haitians, living standards go up, and Haiti can begin to wean itself from a welfare-based economy foisted on the country by disastrous trade policies.

According to Barjon, Clinton pledged his support to "help us make the mill work for BioTek and the community," recognizing that as BioTek works in partnership with the Leogane sugar cane farmers."

Credits for Photos of President Clinton: William Pascal

Each worker in Haiti cares for an average of 8 people. Since the Darbonne mill has 250 employees and currently works with over 1,000 farmers, the revitalization of the Darbonne Mill translates into the participation of over 30,000 farmers, resulting in a direct positive economic impact on over 240,000 people. If successful, the sugar mill will reduce food imports by 10 percent and reduce South American sugar imports by as much as 40 percent.

Barjon is a ferocious supporter of a self-sufficient Haiti, and BioTek's involvement with Darbonne goes back four years, well before the catastrophic earthquake. Getting Clinton to visit the mill was a direct result of this commitment and dedication. She has been attending Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meetings, where BioTek is an "honorary" member. Barjon is grateful for this status since it translates into a waiver of the annual $25,000 membership. She explained her connections with CGI in an email interview.

I think CGI realizes we are looking to balance and to challenge international perception and interests with the socio-economic realities of Haiti and its people. So we get to network, meet and establish relationships with companies and organizations interested in Haiti and/or already operating in Haiti-- like DCK Worldwide and Global New Clean Energy Fund which can assist, help, and give away its intellectual property rights for specific Haiti projects. BioTek seeks above all to re-establish and optimize agro-industrial production in Haiti to serve the country's actual capacities, to meet Haiti's needs, and to contribute towards economic self-sustainability.
All of this will take money that is in short supply in Haiti, despite the influx of non-governmental (NGO) organizations that fill every available hotel and restaurant in Port au Prince. Barjon says that the BioTek Agro-Energy Project will be financed by the International Investment Corporation (IIC), a private arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and Haiti's Sogebank, with potential underwriting from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

If successful, the project will complete the rehabilitation of the Leogane sugar industry with the resultant production of sugar and cane syrup. A secondary bonus will be the production of green energy from sugar cane bagasse biomass-- an estimated 20 megawatts of electricity-- when the pre-earthquake electricity deficit was over 60 megawatts.

Bagasse is the fibrous by-product of cane processing. The moisture content requires drying before burning. A low moisture content after processing is the measure of good processing and the Darbonne plant is achieving 40 percent, which is considered a very good industry standard.

Part of the reason Clinton has thrown such visible support behind this project may be the fact that the government of Haiti, for unknown reasons, has yet to ink the final contract.

Why GOH is not signing a project that is funded, can basically create over 30,000 agricultural jobs, when over 60 percent of Haiti's labor force is agricultural, reduce its trade deficit by 10 percent, and reduce 40 percent of sugar imports, is unfathomable. It is also another reason that it is more than unfortunate that major news outlets have failed to cover this story and instead focused on the six-month anniversary of the devastation and Wyclef Jean, while tanking a story about sustainable agriculture.

Leogane has always been the traditional sugar cane production region of Haiti and agriculture is the area's only major employer. Visit Haiti and people will tell you they want to work. We heard this again and again as we visited the IDP camps in March and again in May. 1,000 independent farmers currently sell their sugar cane to Darbonne and depend on the mill for their livelihood.

Clinton addressed the need for Haiti to become self-sufficient at the United Nations donor conference in March 2010. Speaking to potential donor groups, Clinton suggested that the best thing aid groups could do for Haiti was to "put themselves out of business." What Haiti needs most of all is the encouragement and means to become a self-sufficient nation. Now, with his visit to the Darbonne Sugar Mill in his capacity as the United Nations Special Envoy, the former president appears to be putting intellectual and influential muscle behind agricultural sustainability.

But Clinton's support will not be enough if donor nations and especially USAID do not step up to the plate. A week ago, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced a second round of tarpaulin distributions.

In all, 80,000 families in Port-au-Prince and Léogâne will receive new tarps to replace the increasingly worn and tattered stock that provides make-shift shelter to tens of thousands of displaced families across the country.
Haiti needs more than plastic tents if the country is to move forward. People need job security, real homes, clean water, and electricity. They need infrastructure, to put it simply. The Darbonne mill exists. It does not have to be rebuilt. It is online and in production. One major donor can expand this project to include thousands of farmers and their families, and the Government of Haiti needs to get solidly behind it and sign the final contract. The partnership already exists.

"With the BioTek/Darbonne Management Contract in place, we expect to have over 4,000 farmers immediately as part of our network," Barjon said. "We also need help in securing money to buy as much sugar cane as possible this upcoming season, which begins in September."

Possible emergency funding can come from USAID, which could include Darbonne within its emergency funding plans, or as part of its ongoing Winner's Program, Barjon said.

Meanwhile, while USAID certainly has the funding available, there is no indication yet that it is forthcoming. This is unfortunate, when Haiti is suffering so terribly and a viable project is up and running. We visited in May and it is as impressive as facilities we have seen in South Louisiana. Certainly the farmers and workers are as committed.

Barjon said Clinton indicated the project must be a source of jobs for Haitians, and that the companies involved promise Haitian partners, in order to be eligible for funding.

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Background on BioTek: BioTek Solutions, Inc. (BioTek: Federal Tax ID Number: 74-314-5063; D & B Number: 19-711-0005)) is an Agro-Solutions Business Development and BioFuels Blending and Distribution Company with offices in Tampa and Lake City, Florida and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The company is a partnership between the Principals of BioTek Solutions, Inc., BioTek Haiti S.A.
BioTek Solutions, Inc., founded in 2005, has worked with the Florida Energy Office, the Florida Legislature and numerous counties to promote Biomass based energy and biofuels awareness and use in Florida and the Caribbean. BioTek has worked with the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF).

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