A large crowd gathered this week to celebrate the success of entrepreneurs in Haiti. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided 31 companies with capital and technical support to grow their business. Together, these enterprises have created more than 8,000 jobs. Part of the LEAD program (Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments), USAID has invested more than $5 million in businesses in various sectors of the Haitian economy. Implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the project aims to support long-term economic growth in the region.
Each company was awarded a grant after successfully completing a business plan competition. After the ceremony, entrepreneurs had the opportunity to showcase their businesses at an exposition. More than 200 people attended from the private sector, the Government of Haiti and local organizations.
“The ambience was very positive and dynamic,” says PADF country director Nadia Cherrouk. “Several enterprises were able to make linkages with their fellow entrepreneurs as well as connect with other actors from the financial sector.” Investors also attended the event and were very impressed with the diversity and strength of the enterprises, Cherrouk added.
"Today's ceremony is a celebration of the spirit of entrepreneurship in Haiti," said Christian Barratt, acting USAID mission Director. “We want to see even more aspiring entrepreneurs attract investment, generate jobs, and grow. We also want more Diaspora investors to support community-driven economic development. I am pleased to see we are on the right track.” Barratt also conveyed the sentiments of U.S. Ambassador Pamela A. White, who was unable to attend, saying, “Haiti is too rich to be poor.”
The event included a business-to-business networking session to help the entrepreneurs forge important relationships with financial institutions, service providers, and sector experts.