“This particular way of getting to know a country by exploring opportunities, meeting with a variety of individuals, and learning directly from Haitians is truly unique. It is not about coming into a country and being some type of savior, but about being humbled by the people and learning from them what can be done at the local level.”
From January 16 – 20 we took a group of 21 guarantors from MCE Social Capital to visit Haiti and learn more about the state of economic development in Haiti. MCE Social Capital MCE Social Capital is a nonprofit impact-investing firm that uses a loan guarantee model to generate economic opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people in more than 30 countries. MCE Social Capital operates by using guarantors to pledge that they will cover any losses, and uses that as risk capital to get loans from traditional banking institutions in the United States. They then use that money to loan to microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world.
HDI designed and planned the trip in such a way to help them see their impact, identify innovative ways to increase their investment, and to get a broader understanding of the political, social, and economic context in Haiti. We spent part of our time with Fonkoze, their current partner in Haiti. We first visited Fonkoze’ s Chemen Lavi Miyò program, which gives Haiti’s poorest women productive assets and training to pull themselves and their families from ultra-poverty into self-sufficiency using BRAC’s Graduation model. We also visited their Ti Kredit and Business Development Program’s as well as their wrap around programs through their foundation. The second half of our program was designed to help introduce them to other social enterprises operating in Haiti, give them a better understanding for the business climate, and to see how social businesses directly help those at the bottom of the pyramid. Please see below to learn more about the other groups we visited while in Haiti.
“I met some amazing and wonderful organizations in Haiti who taught me valuable lessons about the importance of local context, history, and macroeconomic factors that could be applied to other countries as well. Haiti was previously defined by my stereotypes, and now leaves me feeling more optimistic and hopeful. I cannot wait to return.”
We will continue to offer trips like this to other groups with the explicit goal of increasing the amount of funding going directly to Haitian businesses and organizations, and to present a new narrative to donors that focus on the opportunities, the beauty of the landscape, and the vibrant culture of Haiti. As Haiti is located just off the coast of Florida, it creates a unique opportunity for donors to touch, feel, and truly understand the impact of their philanthropy and investments.
dloHaiti (“Water Haiti”) is a for-profit venture providing safe drinking water to consumers in underserved countries such as Haiti. Potable water in their target markets is often purified centrally and delivered by trucks to customers. This model relies on large trucks for transport and is unreliable, dirty, and expensive. DloHaiti improves this model by decentralizing production, putting it closer to consumers. By digging local wells, purifying the water, and dispensing it in sterilized returnable jugs, DloHaiti can lower the cost of water, improve water quality, and deliver services that improve convenience and access. Target markets are under-served communities in peri-urban and rural areas where customers currently pay high prices for drinking water. DloHaiti’s model also creates cost-effective micro distribution networks that resolve key logistical and inventory financing challenges for small, predominantly women-operated retailers in bottom of the pyramid markets.
Yunus Social Business (YSB) has operated in Haiti since 2010. YSB Haiti leverages the innovative “incubate and finance” model to empower local social businesses to serve to needs of the most vulnerable and under-served communities in Haiti. YSB Haiti seeks to support social business in Haiti by empowering local entrepreneurs, providing business development and increased access to capital, and ultimately creating jobs in key targeted sectors. YSB Haiti specifically aims to strengthen critical agricultural value chains, promote reforestation and environmental protection and increase Haiti’s economic self-reliance.
YSB Haiti has a portfolio of 12 social businesses in Haiti, which have received almost USD 2.5 million in financing from YSB. You can read more about the current YSB Haiti Portfolio on their website. To date, 10,000+ customers are impacted in Haiti on a monthly basis and 250+ jobs have been created and sustained. YSB Haiti operates as a subsidiary of the Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives. YSB Global has offices in 7 countries including Haiti and is a leader in creating and replicating game-changing social businesses around the world. YSB was co-founded by Nobel Prize-winning laureate Muhammad Yunus and is headquartered in Germany.
Fair Trade Certified is an opportunity for the mango growers of Haiti to lift themselves out of poverty a dozen mangos at a time. The mission of Fair Trade USA is to support and promote these courageous growers in their pursuit of improving their lives with sustainable and lasting solutions to poverty alleviation. Mangos from Haiti are among the sweetest and most flavorful on the market. So it’s no coincidence that Fair Trade Certified™ mangos have strengthened Haitian farmers’ economic security and given them hope, particularly after the earthquake. Varieties such as Francique, which is famous for its juicy, rich texture and aromatic scent, are sold to such buyers as Whole Foods Market under the Fair Trade Certified™ label to help Haitian farmers improve their lives. What most people don’t know is that when farmers are unable to sell mangos for Fair Trade pricing, they rely on middlemen who dictate price and quantity. Without Fair Trade pricing, some Haitian farmers sell at such low prices they are forced to cut down their fruit trees for lumber and charcoal to make ends meet.
Under Fair Trade Certification standards, mango farmers earn a fair price in addition to the premium funds they receive for community development projects. In the past, premiums have been used to create a community center and a mango nursery to increase production, as well as purchase agricultural tools such as hoes, axes, shovels and rakes. Through Fair Trade USA trainings on how to harvest, wash and arrange fruit according to international shipment standards, farmers are able to sell more directly, earn additional income and ultimately raise their standard of living.
Kreyòl Essence (KE) is dedicated to introducing premium ingredients to the global market and an array of eco-luxury beauty and personal care products made exclusively in Haiti. Inspired by the crystallization of the first black republic, Kreyòl Essence’s goal is to liberate the community from costly and unsafe products that have offered false promises and broken dreams of beauty and health. Kreyòl Essence believes in challenging stereotypes of all kinds and celebrating the raw beauty and talents of all people. KE promotes comfort, confidence, and acceptance of one’s self.
Kreyòl Essence is “Natural with a Purpose.” The company tackles the socioeconomic disparities plaguing Haiti by developing a business model that benefits the country economically, environmentally, and socially by promoting self-sufficiency. KE hires Haitian farmers and women to grow and make its products. Over 40% of women are heads of households in Haiti, natural care takers and the backbone of the country. However, women are also victims of gender-based violence and extreme poverty due to high unemployment. As a company that caters to women, it focuses on women hires. KE creates jobs in Haiti. The popularity of Haitian Black Castor Oil and KE products will also help to stimulate Haiti’s economy by stimulating its GDP, where the country has had a trade deficit for decades. At its core KE is an agribusiness, because KE products are contingent on farming, KE averts deforestation and soil erosion and strengthens the agricultural economy.
10Power works internationally with under-served communities to build capacity for renewable energy, clean water, gender empowerment, and ecosystem restoration. Using proven technology, 10Power invests in renewable energy projects that can be paid back over time, providing access to clean power in the places that need it most. Solar Photovoltaics provide clean water and power to some of the poorest communities in the world, building distribution hubs for sustainable development. With a focus on gender equality, 10Power is partnering with local educational institutions to provide technical training for maintaining solar installations and creating local enterprise.