Haiti Libre | Haiti Economy: Program to Attract Investment in Haitian SMEs

Haiti Libre | Published Jan 3, 2012

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) launched yesterday a new program in Haiti to attract international investments in Haitian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a key strategy to create jobs, generate income, and increase the development impact of remittances. The Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) program will be officially launched in the Haitian port city of Saint-Marc.

LEAD seeks to engage U.S. and other investors as well as the Haitian Diaspora in an effort to grow SMEs in Haiti and increase the development impact of remittances. The initiative will target SMEs working in sectors that have the greatest potential to create jobs, including construction, tourism, agribusiness, and alternative energy. It will also focus on encouraging job creation for women and the handicapped.

With major funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the four-year LEAD program is designed to strengthen the capacity of SMEs to engage in best business practices, and attract investment mostly from the Haitian Diaspora as well as other international and domestic sources to grow businesses in Haiti. The program will focus on three main development corridors, including Cap-Haïtien, Saint-Marc, and Port-au-Prince. 

"Real, transformative change in Haiti can only come through private sector investment," said U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten. "Haitian small businesses are key drivers of the economy, but limited access to financing restricts their ability to grow. The LEAD project seeks to change this dynamic."

LEAD will especially work with the Haitian Diaspora in the U.S. and elsewhere to engage them in targeted philanthropic activities such as investing into social businesses. The project will explore and develop innovative ways to use a portion of remittances to further the development impact of these resources at the local level.

The innovative LEAD program will use a grant matching mechanism to leverage private investment in Haitian SMEs identified through business plan competitions. Grants are expected to range from $50,000 up to $200,000, with at least a one-to-one match from outside investment. The LEAD project will also use grants to support social businesses in Haiti, which will leverage remittances where possible and further encourage the involvement of the Haitian Diaspora in local economic development. LEAD will collaborate with the Haitian Diaspora community in the U.S. to channel remittances to viable social enterprises and community projects, increasing their internal sustainability and external impact. Using Haitian implementing partners, LEAD will also provide targeted business development services to enterprises and social businesses under this program.

"LEAD is a significant initiative for PADF to decentralize sustainable economic growth and job creation. With our Haitian institutional partners, LEAD will succeed in helping Haiti further achieve its regional emerging market status," said C. Ross Croulet, LEAD Project Director.

Learn more about the PADF :
The PADF (Pan American Development Foundation) is the non-profit foundation of the Organization of American States, established in 1962 to implement integrated socio-economic development programs for disadvantaged people, to strengthen civil society and community groups in support of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and to aid victims of major natural events and humanitarian crises. In 2011, it helped more than 7.5 million persons in 23 countries. Headquartered in Washington DC, PADF has field offices in Haiti, Colombia and other countries.