Invitation: Haitian Recycling Conference (July 23-24, 2011)

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, July 8, 2011.

Below is an invitation to a recycling conference that will be held at Wahoo Bay Beach Resort outside of Port au Prince July 23-24, 2011.  If you have been to Port au Prince, then you have seen the plastic bottles clogging up drainage canals throughout the city.  This is one of many vulnerabilities during the rainy season. Nationwide recycling would create jobs and clean up Haiti's ever growing cities.  To learn more about Ramase Lajan (Gather the Money) visit Haiti Recycling website.  Recycling plastic, rubble, and trash could become important components of Haiti’s reconstruction.    


Dear Friends,


We invite you to join us at the Ramase Lajan Program Launch Event July 23rd & 24th at Wahoo Bay Beach Resort just outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At the Program Launch Event you will have the opportunity to learn how Ramase Lajan spurs sustainable job creation, improves sanitation and fights the spread of disease. You will discover how easily you can get involved in this groundbreaking new program and get an inside look into Ramase Lajan’s structure, the physical equipment used and the program’s innovative franchisee model. All of this will take place in the beautiful backdrop of Wahoo Bay Beach Resort and in the company of other Haitian business leaders, NGO’s and donors. Attend any of our scheduled sessions on Saturday July 23rd at 11AM and 5PM or Sunday July 24th at 11AM and 2PM.  Attendees will also enjoy complimentary food, beverages sun and fun at Haiti’s favorite family beach resort!


The Problem: Currently very little plastic is being recycled in Haiti and few see plastic as a commodity that can be sold on the world market. Hence, the streets and canals are filled with plastic, and as heavy rains pour into clogged canals, dirty, disease infected water pours out. All over, mountains of discarded plastic reduce sanitary conditions and mar the natural beauty of Haiti.  Through the leadership of Haiti Recycling, some plastic is being collected and recycled but the logistics of getting to their main facility limit the ability to scale up plastic collection. Many collectors must walk and wait for days to get paid on the plastic collected. Ramase Lajan creates plastic recycling centers across the country, addresses these issues and turns mountains of litter into miles of opportunity. We estimate the need for approximately 2,000 recycling centers around Haiti to maximize employment, cleanup and processing of plastics. As we build up Haitian capacity to recycle plastic it opens up opportunities for plastic from the Dominican Republic and other islands to be processed in Haiti.


Please save the date and join CSS International Holdings and Executives Without Borders at the Ramase Lajan Program Launch Event July 23rd - 24th at Wahoo Bay Beach Resort! Please feel free to forward this invitation to the National Conference on Plastic Recycling. We will be in touch soon with more details about this exciting event and look forward to seeing you at Wahoo Bay. To RSVP, email us at For more information regarding Ramase Lajan, its impact and how you can get involved please visit our website


For more information on CSS International Holdings please visit our website


For more information on Executives Without Borders please visit our website www.execwb

Haitians Ignore Government Ban on Plastic Bags (AP-10/1/2012)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haitian merchants on Monday ignored the first day of a government ban on the sale and general use of plastic bags and foam food containers. In a busy, crowded market in the hillside district of Petionville, dozens of vendors openly sold the tightly rolled bags and big packages of to-go food containers seemingly without concern that they would be stopped. Some said they will keep peddling the goods if the government doesn't provide alternative jobs. Others said they will sell something else if the government enforces the ban. "It's fine if the government wants to ban the containers but it also needs to create an alternative," said Innocent Petit-Frere, a 57-year-old vendor who, like many others, buys the foam containers from the neighboring Dominican Republic in bulk. He sells packages of 100 containers for $6.87 Petit-Frere wondered how people would be able to eat meals on the go without access to the foam containers, which have become ubiquitous in the capital. "You have to eat, and you just can't put the food on the ground," he said from his store as co-workers piled bags of imported rice. The office of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced the ban in August to clear some of the litter that's strewn across Port-au-Prince and clogs drainage channels. The measure will most certainly affect Haiti's poor majority, many of whom make a living by selling the bags and boxes on the streets. It's unclear how the government plans to enforce the ban in markets. But customs officials are under orders to confiscate the bags and foam boxes if they find them on the border or in airports and seaports, said Salim Succar, special adviser to Lamothe, in an email. They face arrest if they don't comply, Succar added. An assistant for Minister of Environment Jean Vilmond Hilaire said the minister wasn't available to answer questions. Bag seller Ovinthe Aristide said he hopes to sell his remaining plastic bags before authorities crack down.

Company Tunring Trash to Cash in Haiti (7/15/2012)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Molly Hensley-Clancy
The first time he visited Haiti, shortly after the devastating earthquake in 2010, Ian Rosenberger scrawled in his journal: "If Haiti could figure out how to turn trash into money = good." There is so much trash in Port au Prince that it can be a literal roadblock, filling the streets and slowing traffic. It gathers in canals and ravines, blocking water and drainage, getting swept out to sea during storms. Children play atop mountains of it. Two years after that first visit, Mr. Rosenberger's company, Thread LLC, is transporting 50,000 pounds of plastic flakes from Port au Prince's streets to the United States, where it eventually will be extruded into fiber. Thread is one of two new Pittsburgh businesses hoping to turn the tons of waste and recyclables that go uncollected in Haiti into money -- and, they hope, into good. The missions of Thread LLC and the other business, International Electric Power, which has plans to convert Haiti's trash into electricity, are familiar. As many charities have done in Haiti, they promise to help: by ridding the country of the trash that plagues its infrastructure, creating jobs and, in the case of International Electric Power, providing electricity to about 280,000 of its households. But Thread and International Electric also have set out to make a profit, and that fact, they say, positions them to help in ways that nonprofits cannot. It also means both businesses are treading on relatively new territory: how to be a company in a developing nation that works for, rather than takes advantage of, the country's citizens.
Mr. Rosenberger, 30, of Shadyside, originally came to Haiti simply to observe, taking pictures of the earthquake's wreckage for a marketing company. In the back of a truck in Port au Prince, he met Tassy Fils-aime, a young man who, at 17, had resigned himself to die. Haitian hospitals could not treat the softball-sized tumor in Mr. Fils-aime's jaw. "Meeting Tassy was one of those moments that I call crossroads moments," said Mr. Rosenberger during an interview via the online application FaceTime while he was in Cange, a remote village on the Haitian plateau. "Where if you take one direction, your life will be completely different." The nearly $100,000 that Mr. Rosenberger raised to send Mr. Fils-aime to Pittsburgh for a lifesaving operation was the genesis of a nonprofit called Team Tassy, which helps Haitians find medical treatment and, after their recovery, jobs and education. On Saturday, Team Tassy is hosting a fundraising event in Point State Park, called the Great American Water Balloon Fight, that the organizers expect will draw 3,000 people and 100,000 water balloons.
It's about jobs. But after a year of running Team Tassy, Mr. Rosenberger recognized a need for something more than the charity could provide. "We tend to treat places that are poor with one approach: We're going to send clothes, build houses and churches, provide relief," Mr. Rosenberger
said. "The fact is, when we look at the recession in places like the U.S., we don't look at the number of houses or schools or the number of shoes we send. We look at the number of jobs we create. And we need to start doing that in poor countries, too." So Mr. Rosenberger founded Thread LLC in 2011 with the idea of making products from Haitian recyclables that can be sold to consumers in the United States. Although Mr. Rosenberger declined to disclose the exact nature of the products because they are still in development, he said they would be wearable or used in the home, and he emphasized that they will be recognizable -- branded as being made, fairly and sustainably, in Haiti. "People care about where their stuff comes from in a way they never have before," Mr. Rosenberger said, citing successful companies such as shoe company Tom's and outdoor gear maker Patagonia. "The market for these goods is enormous."
Thread plans to have prototypes of its first products by the end of this year. The company is currently seeking first-round investors to help it raise $600,000; so far, Mr. Rosenberger said, all of the investors are based in Pittsburgh, including business incubator Idea Foundry, which provided $50,000 in initial funding. Eventually, Thread wants to raise $5 million to $6 million to build a facility in Port au Prince that the organizers call a "manufacturing campus," which will include a facility for processing recyclables, design studios and a community amphitheater. "We tell people, 'You've been giving your money in the form of aid, and that's great. People need aid, especially after disasters," Mr. Rosenberger said. "Why not invest in a company that can provide jobs and can also provide for itself?"
International Electric Power, you might say, began not in Haiti but at the side of Peter Dailey's pool. In 2007, Mr. Dailey was in the process of selling his independent power company. He was sitting by the pool at his vacation home in Hilton Head with his daughter when she turned to him and said, "Dad, when you die, people will remember you as a good moneygrubber." That year, Mr. Dailey founded Downtown-based International Electric Power with the hope, he said, of "doing more than just making a profit." He is now the CEO of the company, which he owns with partners Steven Adelkoff and Enzo Zoratto. The company is promising to use the natural resources of developing countries to create independent, and often renewable, energy. Although they currently are also working on ventures in Pakistan and India, Haiti is the site of their first venture: Project Phoenix.
In Haiti, trash was the most obvious resource. The 2.9 million people in the area where International Electric will operate generate some 2,000 tons of trash a day, of which less than 800 tons are collected by the government and private sectors. That leaves more than 12,000 tons of trash accumulating daily. "It's unimaginable," Mr. Dailey said. International Electric and a Spanish equipment company, Ros Roca, developed a waste collection system for Haiti's capital. The hope is to convert that trash into enough power to serve about 280,000 Haitian households. International Electric is in the final stages of finding investors for the 30-megawatt plant, the construction of which will take two years and cost $250 million. The company already has signed a public-private agreement with the Haitian government and hopes to begin construction by the first quarter of 2013. The need for energy independence in Haiti, Mr. Dailey said, is great. The vast majority of its power is imported in the form of costly diesel fuels and petroleum, and less than 30 percent of citizens have access to electricity. Over 30 years of operation, International Electric estimates the power plant will save the Haitian government $4 billion, in addition to the tons of waste it will keep off of Port au Prince's streets. Originally, the company had plans to couple its trash collection services with the construction of a lignite mine. Haiti has troves of lignite, or brown coal, which could produce energy more cheaply and efficiently than trash alone. They quickly abandoned the plan because lignite was a dirty fuel. The decision, said International Electric's vice president of development, Edward Rawson, was two-pronged: financial, because investors were reluctant to put money into its use, but also environmental. "Quite simply, it's better for the planet," he said.
Thread, too, is considering the environmental impact of its business. Many recycled products available in the U.S., Mr. Rosenberger said, are flown to and from China, some 20,000 miles round trip. Products
transported to and from Haiti cut that distance by 70 percent, making them more environmentally friendly -- and cheaper to produce. No matter how deeply he feels connected to Haiti, through Team Tassy and the time he has spent there since 2010, Mr. Rosenberger knows his Thread team is not rooted in that country. "We're still a bunch of white people." And that can be a problem. Neither Thread nor International Electric employs any Haitians at the top levels. It is a fact that both businesses struggle with; they say it can cause both mistrust and cultural misunderstandings. It also means they have to work to set themselves apart from charities and businesses that come into Haiti hoping to impose American values and solutions onto Haiti's its citizens.
International Electric is developing Phoenix University, which will educate Haitians in electrical engineering and other skills that the plant requires. The education will allow them to fill skilled engineering roles that many other foreign companies would give to American managers. "Too many people simply push solutions onto the Haitian people," Mr. Rosenberger said. "We decided very early on that we needed to spend a lot of time here. It's a novel concept, surprisingly. Very often, people don't ask the poor what they need." Some well-meaning social-entrepreneurship initiatives that Americans bring to developing countries can do more harm than good -- by out-competing local producers, for example, or providing services that are unnecessary or unrealistic. Said Mr. Rosenberger, "We're never going to be Haitian. Change has to come from a grassroots level in Haiti itself." In addition to spending as much time as possible there -- Mr. Rosenberger said he has visited more than 50 times since 2010 -- Thread is working to solve the problem in part by partnering with Partners in Health, a hospital in Cange that was founded by American doctor Paul Farmer. Partners in Health is Haiti's third-largest employer, with a 5,500 employee workforce that is 95 percent Haitian. Mr. Rosenberger sees the organization as an inspiration: "Their philosophy aligns with what we're trying to do -- to restore dignity rather than just giving handouts."
Another challenge that both Pittsburgh companies face is reconciling American labor values and standards, and their own commitments to fair labor practices, with the Haitian reality. Haiti's minimum wage is less than $2 a day. "It would be fantastic if we could pay $45 a day," Mr. Rawson said, "but in terms of business sense, that's unrealistic. It would drive up cost dramatically. We have to stay in the parameters of the country."International Electric has, however, promised to pay a wage that is relatively high in Haiti and to provide working conditions that meet not just Haitian standards but American ones. Mr. Rawson, who grew up in Pittsburgh, has roots in Haiti; his familys tied to Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles, Haiti, and the reality of their charity work and fundraising efforts there fueled his faith in the for-profit work of International Electric Power. "You could be providing everything that Haiti needed, but when the money ended, the project stopped. With a business that's making money,
that's not a problem." "We believe in the power of business to change peoples' lives," Mr. Rosenberger said. "Business can be more than just 'not bad' -- it can be really good."

Haiti's Trash Headed for Ovens in Waste to Energy Project

Pittsburgh Business Times
By Anya Litvak
International Electric Power LLC will be turning Haiti’s waste to watts in a $250 million project announced today. The Pittsburgh-based company said it signed a 30-year public-private partnership agreement with the Government of Haiti to collect municipal trash from the metropolitan area of Port au Prince and burn it in a 30 megawatt powerplant to generate electricity. The venture is called Project Phoenix and International Electric power is predicting it will create about 1,800 jobs in Haiti. It would not disclose how much money it's investing in the venture. The company expects the financial closing will take place during the fourth quarter of this year. After that, the project partners will set about collecting garbage and building the power plant. Another Pittsburgh company, THREAD (The Haitian Redevelopment Initiative) International, also will be involved, according to International Electric Power. THREAD is planning to build a factory that converts discarded plastic into thread. According to its website, International Electric Power also is working on developing a $60 million wind farm in Haiti with a capacity of 20 megawatts. It’s been looking for financing for the project since January 2011.

IFRC Rubble Recycling Program Builds Shelters, Walls, Community

Junior looks across a muddy ravine in Carrefour Feuilles, where a number of houses are perched near the edge of the bank. “It’s been a long journey but it’s finally done,” he says. Supporting the bank is a retaining wall, also known as a gabion wall, made up a dozens of wire baskets filled with rubble. Each has been painstakingly placed and filled by members of the local community. “We set up the baskets and then fill them with the debris,” Junior says. “We pay people who live here to do it, rotating every few weeks so everyone gets chance to earn some money. It really helps clean up the area.” This rubble recycling project is being replicated in neighbourhoods throughout Port au Prince as teams from the Haiti Red Cross Society put to use 25,000 cubic meters of the rubble left in the wake of the earthquake in 2010. The abandoned rubble is processed by local residents and transformed into concrete blocks, paving slabs or, in this case, a wall which will stop the ground slipping away during Haiti’s next heavy rains, or in case of another earthquake. The rubble wall is just one part of this neighbourhoods’ development. Haiti Red Cross Society teams are supporting the community, helping them to achieve their vision for the future by providing shelters, access to water and sanitation, and job opportunities along with training and technical support. “After the earthquake it was just ugly trash and broken houses here. Now we have shelters, a gabion wall and big clean-up operation. And we’re working to bring water and electricity here,” Junior says. “We’re doing a renovation programme!” The programme in this neighbourhood is part of the organization’s integrated neighbourhood approach which works side by side with local residents to determine what their communities priority needs are and how they can be achieved. Surveying his home town in the midst of transformation, Junior has aspirations for a better life for himself and his community. “In the future I want it to be a nice place to look at and be proud, knowing I can take some credit for it.”

"Ramase lajan" actually

"Ramase lajan" actually means "Pick up/Gather money". I think that this is a great project with lots of potential. It may even create opportunities for the future where Haiti may own a recycling plant that provides reused resources for other projects within and outside of Haiti. It doesn't require much, just enlists the help of the population to clean up their own communities.

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