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Millions of Haitians living abroad in many countries, including the United States now have a unique opportunity to invest in Haiti's future. The United States Agency for International Development [USAID] is partnering with Fondation Sogebank, a philanthropic institution of Haiti's largest commercial bank, to establish the Haitian Diaspora Marketplace.
The Haitian Diaspora Marketplace is a 2-year pilot program designed to encourage Haitians living abroad to contribute to Haiti's economic development through direct investment in productive business activities. Diaspora entrepreneurs have a special human and financial expertise that can be of great value to the government of Haiti in advancing more productive public-private investments. The program encourages the creation and growth of small businesses in key sectors, such agriculture, tourism, and information and communication technology.
The Haitian Diaspora Marketplace will provide access to grant funding to Diaspora entrepreneurs and will also offer technical assistance to the businesses. The implementation phase of the grants will include USAID contributions ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 with a 2 to 1 minimum cost-sharing requirement.
Grant applications must include business plans for sustainable activities that will be implemented with the participation of Haitian businesses. Competitors for the funding will also be required to provide detailed plans for sustainable business activities in Haiti. As part of this initiative, credit guaranty programs with local Haitian banks will provide improved access to credit entrepreneurs from the Diaspora. USAID will provide $200,000,000 in support for the program.
Acting USAID Administrator Alonzo Fulgham spoke to the second annual Haitian Diaspora Unity Congress in Miami Beach, Florida this month. He noted that the U.S. will provide over $300,000,000 in assistance to directly support national development priorities identified by the government of Haiti. And he called on the Haitian Diaspora to do its share.
"We want to work with you – our partners in the Haitian Diaspora – to work faster, harder, and smarter to advance sustainable development in Haiti," he said. Acting Administrator Fulgham urged the Diaspora to continue to let Haitian officials at the local and national levels know that Haiti needs stable and capable government institutions. Local non-governmental organizations need the Diaspora's help in the fight against corruption, he said. And most important, said Acting Administrator Fulgham, Haiti needs the expertise and experience of the Diaspora.
"The United States," said Acting Administrator Fulgham, "looks forward to working with the Haitian Diaspora to bring meaningful economic development to Haiti."