Most would agree increasing trade is important for Haiti's long term development. Where people disagree concerns what kind, how much, and where. Haiti has never been an easy place to invest, but it has enormous potential due to its large multinational Diaspora, proximity to the United States, vast labor pool, and now the passage of Hope II. Given these advantages, is Haiti open for business?
Small Business Development
Caribbean 360 carried an announcement that, by early next year, Haiti will have taken a step toward closer integration into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy. As part of this deal, CARICOM will carry out public education campaigns to educate Haitains about CARICOM and to educate other Caribbean countries about Haiti. The expansion of Digicel, the largest company in Haiti, shows the potential of the private sector in Haiti. Haiti needs trade more than it needs aid and I hope regional integration will help create much needed employment.
One must be entrepeneurial to survive on less than a dollar a day. A wide variety of organizations throughout the world are using microfinance, the provision of small loans, to tap this entrepeneurial spirit and help rural women improve their livelihoods. Pioneered by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, this pro poor model has been proven effective again and again in India, Rwanda, Haiti, and elsewhere. The number of organizations offering micro-credit in Haiti has grown considerably but there is still a need for expansion.
Below is a Miami Herald article on Haitian dairies that I read with great interest. With the exception of Laughing Cow cheese, it is hard to find and even harder to afford dairy in Haiti. Powdered milk is expensive and when mixed with unclean water can be dangerous for children. Countries such as India have a wide network of dairy cooperatives which provide jobs for women and better nutrition for kids. One glass of milk would make a real difference in boosting their immune systems. According to Dr. Michel Chancy, approximately 100 dairies would meet Haiti's domestic demand. After reading the article watch videos concerning the successful Let Agogo program to learn more.
As part of Johns Hopkins University International Development Series, Charles MacCormack, President and CEO of Save the Children, spoke on the potentials and limitations of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As development experts realize the fact that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play a key role in achieving the MDGs, MacCormack discusses specific strategies that NGOs can implement in order to realize the full potential of the MDGs. What role do NGOs play in achieving the MDGs and how does this affect a country such as Haiti?
According to the Haiti Xchange site, the Haitian government announced the opening of a newly constructed marketplace on Route des Freres in Petionville. The idea is to reduce some of the congestion in Petionville, once one of Haiti's most polished neighborhoods. I like the boisterous street symphony of everday life, but Petionville is overflowing with street merchants. Giving them a safe, clean place to sell their goods seems a sensible move - provided they can get the licenses required to do so and that taxes are not excessive.
For Peace Corps Volunteers living on the Central Plateau, Cap Haitian was a nice city to spend a long weekend in. Sure, the road was unbelievably rough, but there are nice hotels, restaurants, and beaches. Of those beaches, Labadee is one of the nicest and is basically set aside for Royal Carribean. According to the Miami Herald, Royal Carribean and the Haitian Government recently inked a deal to expand the cruise line's operations in Haiti significantly.
Haiti's roads are awful. When I was a volunteer, a peacekeeper told me that the only worse roads he had ever seen were in Nepal. The lack of infrastucture has affected people's ability to do business, seek health care, visit relatives, and to travel in general. But there is good news - For the first time in a long while progress is being made on Haiti's road system.
Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry. — Bill Drayton
I attended an interesting presentation today by Ashoka, an organization that supports individuals who apply their entrepeneurial skills to solve urgent social problems. Since 1981, the organization has supported over 1800 entrepeneurs by providing them with stipends so they can focus on their social endeavor full time, receive professional support, and access to a wide network of mentors from sixty different countries who can provide guidance and feedback.