Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Entrepreneurial Potential Overlooked in Haiti

The author of this article challenges us to think about Haiti not as the poor victim but as a place full of potential, particularly for young Haitian entrepreneurs.  If everyone starts to think of Haitians as having agency, international organizations can do a better job of helping them. Why We Need To Learn To See Haiti Through Different Eyes Linda Peia, Forbes December 16, 2013 In his recent piece in the McKinsey Voices on Society, Olivier Barrau (@obarrau), CEO of the Alternative Insurance Company in Haiti, makes a strong case for changing the fatalistic mindset in Haiti, which he considers to be one of the reasons why the insurance market in Haiti remains highly underdeveloped.  Olivier’s focus on changing the cultural mindset in Haiti is a common principle of many successful entrepreneurs in Haiti.  Haitians must be convinced that they […]

Jobs and Justice: Raising the Floor on Worker Rights and Wages in Haiti

by Beverly Bell, Alexis Erkert, and Deepa Panchang, Daily Kos May 23, 2013  Over the past few weeks in this article series, we’ve heard firsthand from Haitian garment workers about low wages, sexual abuse, labor rights violations, and work-related injuries they suffered in sweatshops. Meanwhile, the world has watched the death toll in last month’s factory collapse in Bangladesh creep to above 1,100. Global activists have joined the calls of protesting workers, ramping up pressure on clothing retailers against the regular mistreatment and deaths of workers. Slowly, the public is realizing that exploitation within the garment assembly industry is not the exception, it’s the rule. Today, we take a deep dive into the economics of this sector in Haiti to look at how it has come to be, and at what alternative pathways might look like. In discussions among foreigners […]

Small-business owners feel left out of Haiti’s rebuilding plan

By Jessica Leeder, Project Jacmel The narrow consumer market here for dried flower arrangements, greeting cards, wrapping paper and electrified fish bowls that double as children’s bedside lamps disappeared on the afternoon of January 12. That wasn’t an initial concern, however, for Molver Desire, the owner of Nini’s Fleurs and Baby Gifts, a quaint, one-storey shop on the outer fringe of Jacmel’s heritage district. After the 7.3-magnitude earthquake, the shop with its half-caved roof and grit-coated inventory was in no shape for receiving customers. Neither was Ms. Desire. The earthquake had shaken her, sending her to her knees, where “we were praying for God, asking God to pardon our sins.” Then she begged a motor-taxi to shuttle her across town to her home, where she was relieved to find her family alive, including her diabetic husband, whose health has been […]

The Business of Disaster: Where’s the Haiti-Bound Money Going?

By Beverly Bell, Huffington Post “A sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the international donors conference on March 31 in New York, where foreign nations and other international institutions pledged $5.3 billion toward Haiti over the next 18 months, of which $1.15 billion comes from the U.S. government. Mr. Ban continued, “Today, we have mobilized to give Haiti and its people what they need most: hope for a new future.”[i] In an informal survey of citizens’ views of the international communities’ plans for their nation, taken over the past two months in urban and rural Haiti, not one expressed ‘hope’ or a similar perspective for the plans of the foreign powers. Their experience of ‘nation-building’ under foreign powers has not been positive, either in process or in […]

Private sector eyes opportunity in Haiti rebuilding

By Pascal Fletcher, Reuters MIAMI (Reuters) – Rebuilding Haiti after its catastrophic earthquake should generate major contracts for private companies specializing in construction, logistics, transport and security, but U.S. executives say they need a clear reconstruction strategy to shape their business plans. Private sector firms that focus on post-conflict or disaster relief operations gathered at a meeting in Miami this week to consider the business opportunities offered by Haiti’s recovery from the January 12 quake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns. With Haiti’s government saying up to 300,000 people may have died, some economists are calling the Haitian quake the deadliest natural disaster in modern times. Relief experts and business leaders agree the mammoth task of rebuilding what was already the Western Hemisphere’s poorest state will be impossible without private sector participation. “I don’t think they have any […]

Global Aid Is No Relief for Small Haitian Businesses

By David Luhnow, Wall Street Journal Business for Ilia Alsene, one of Haiti’s ubiquitous “marchands”—or merchants—who sell food and beverages at curbside stalls here, is a lot worse since the country’s devastating earthquake. But Ms. Alsene doesn’t blame the quake so much as the international relief effort that followed. “I have fewer customers now because they are handing out free food down the street,” says the 52-year-old, pointing to the nearby Champs de Mars plaza where aid organizations regularly hand out food to tens of thousands of people camped there in tents. Julie Platner for The Wall Street Journal: Ilia Alsene, seen selling food in Port-au-Prince, says free-food handouts near her stall have hurt her business. After the Jan. 12 quake, which killed as many as 300,000 people, the world launched a massive relief effort to bring food, water, medicine […]

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