Below is an article by David McFadden (Associated Press) concerning the planned development of a port on the Ile de la Tortue north of Port de Paix. The island, poorer than most other parts of Haiti, would certainly benefit from the jobs that could potentially come with the port. The main livelihood opportunities at present involve drug smuggling and construction of boats for fishing and/or smuggling. This, along with international flights, opens up new possibilities for tourism in northern Haiti.
Small Business Development
Encite Capital is a new non-profit organization with the objective of supporting small business development in Haiti with an emphasis on agribusiness, manufacturing, and alternative energy. The official launch party will be held on July 25th from 6-8pm at the Hillyer Gallery in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington DC. To learn more about Encite Capital, check out their website or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. More information follows.
Lee Rainboth recently wrote a blog about a Travel Channel series called Dangerous Grounds, an episode of which was shot in Haiti. Due to the cultural insensitivity of the crew, the episode suggests Haitians are dangerous and unpredictable. In reality, Carmichael is just another fly-by-night visitor who didn't take the time to understand Haitian culture. In reality, Haitians are remarkably hospitable and go out of their way to help strangers. That having been said, Haitian coffee is excellent and well worth seeking out.
Below is an LA Times article about the difficulty and potential of promoting tourism in Haiti. Every country in the Caribbean benefits from tourism to some extent. Haiti's tourism industry could also grow (modestly) over time - with stability, more hotels, and hospitality training programs. Linkages to tourism agencies in the Dominican Republic could also open up cross-border tourism. Thoughts on promoting tourism in Haiti? Post your ideas below.
Haiti requires foreign assistance for many years to come. However, trade is more important than aid over the long term. Digicel and others have shown that, while a difficult place to do business, investment can be both beneficial to Haiti and profitable to investors. A two day event to court new investors, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, was recently concluded. Announcements included planned improvements to route national one, an industrial park in the north, and a large, new hotel in Port au Prince. A Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles on the forum follows.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently announced the approval of two grants for Haiti totaling US $90 million. One grant is devoted to the development of an industrial park between Ounaminthe and Cap Haitian while the other is devoted to modernizing Haiti's energy sector. This is worth noting as investment outside of Port au Prince is unfortunately still rare. The IDP's support for the energy sector will allow for upgrading the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam and promotion of solar energy projects.
Trade is more important to Haiti’s future than aid. This includes agricultural revitalization, industrial development, and perhaps growth in the tourism sector. Jacmel, Haiti’s city of art, has always been one of its most appealing cities. While the city took serious damage during the earthquake, the Capponi Group and the Jacmel Advisory Council are collaborating in the development of Jacmel's downtown, including the construction of a hotel. At the same time, Yele has committed to developing Jacmel’s first tourism training school. Concept art and video can be found on the Capponi Group website. Additional information follows.
Fonkoze, Haiti's most successful micro-lending institution, has released its annual report. After a year of growth in 2009, the earthquake was a major blow to its operations. Ten Fonkoze branches were severely damaged or destroyed. Four hundred and fifty staff lost their homes and over 19,000 clients lost homes and/or businesses. Fonkoze responded by expanding support to earthquake affected clients, including the use of micro-insurance as a tool to help rebuild their livelihoods. Attached is both the annual report and an impact analysis. Below is a summary of their 2009 and 2010 activities.
In 2009, the Vincentian Family (a religious group that draws inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul) and Fonkoze (Haiti’s largest micro-lender) initiated a pilot project, named Zafen, that allows people to loan or donate to businesses in Haiti. The website showcases businesses that have been subject to due diligence, provides easy online access for reviewing them, and offers Haitian entrepreneurs access to capital for expanding their operations. In its first six months, Zafen raised $140,000 and provided funding for 300 projects ranging from coffee cultivation to community dairies. An official press release follows. Take a look at the Zafen website as well.
The RAND Corportation has produced a report that convincingly argues building the Haitian state should be central to reconstruction efforts. This includes the development of skilled, trained, and properly organized government personnel and management systems within and across Ministries. The report suggests that, at least through the medium term, the Haitian government should contract out health and education services, monitoring and regulating but providing no direct services itself. It also notes the importance of developing the capacity and accountability of the Haitian National Police. A summary is copied below and the full report is attached.