The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and the Pan American Development Foundation, known as PADF, celebrated the success of dozens of Haitian entrepreneurs supported by the LEAD program at a large exposition at the Karibe Hotel in Port-au-Prince earlier this month.
Through the LEAD program (which stands for Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments), USAID has provided 45 Haitian and diaspora-led entrepreneurs with the capital and technical support needed to grow their business. Implemented by the PADF, the program supports long-term economic growth in the region.
Each company was awarded a grant after successfully completing a business plan competition. Together, these enterprises have created more than 13,600 jobs in Haiti and are on track to create a total of 18,000 jobs by the end of the year.
Since 2011, USAID’s LEAD Program has invested $7.4 million in businesses in various sectors of the Haitian economy, unlocking $12.7 million in private capital. LEAD has also delivered more than 10,000 hours of training to entrepreneurs to build their capacity and improve business operations. Together, LEAD supported businesses -- from the sanitary paper production plant to the solid waste processing plant, have generated nearly $28 million in sales.
“It’s inspiring to be in a room with so many dynamic and creative Haitian entrepreneurs,” says Nadia Cherrouk, PADF country director. “Their businesses are a testament to what can be achieved through hard work and persistence. Through LEAD, we are helping Haitians realize their business goals and creating a network of innovators. These entrepreneurs are paving the way to a more prosperous Haiti.”
The event included a business-to-business networking session to help the entrepreneurs forge important relationships with financial institutions, service providers and sector experts. USAID’s LEAD project aims to attract investments in Haitian small and medium-sized enterprises and increase the development impact or remittances.
“We congratulate the entrepreneurs here today,” said Brian Shukan, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. “You are the leaders of Haiti’s new economy. The LEAD project’s investment in these innovative entrepreneurs has unlocked millions in private capital. As their businesses grow, we anticipate that they will continue to attract financing from banks and equity investors, driving further economic development.”