the mif blog

Stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and organizations, discussion and commentary of new trends in private sector development, and the latest events and publications.

Haitian chocolate: You say cocoa, I say cacao

Por Yolanda Strachan

By Nara Meli and Yolanda Strachan

Global demand for specialty cocoa beans is growing, and Haiti’s cocoa producers have an opportunity to capture a share of this expanding market. Haiti has a competitive advantage in the production of both organic and fine flavor cocoa. Already, most producers use organic methods because of the absence of major pests and diseases on farms.  The country is also endowed with its own indigenouscriollo variety, providing a strong foundation for producing Haitian fine flavor cocoa in the future.  Criollo beans are prized for their by high-end chocolatiers, pastry companies and luxury European chocolate brands that are willing to pay a premium price for high quality beans.  


HELP: Lessons learned from working in fragile settings

Por Nara Meli

The MIF recently hosted two workshops, one in Washington and another in Port-au-Prince  (as part of a microfinance seminar), to discuss the lessons learned from the Haitian Emergency Liquidity Program (HELP), a $2.1 million dollar program designed to buy earthquake-affected loans from microfinance institutions, providing them fresh funds to maintain their lending operations and preserve their capital base.  MIF and other funders conceived the project in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, to provide support to microfinance institutions and their clients. Omtrix implemented HELP and the Emergency Liquidity Fund (ELF).  ELF provides liquidity and risk management training to prequalified MFIs and private investors in case of disasters. Omtrix is a fund manager and financial consulting firm that focuses on the microfinance sector.  

Solar energy in Haiti’s central plateau

Por Ryan Tang

Haiti faces a widespread lack of access to the electricity grid. Fewer than 1 in 6 Haitians have electricity, and those that are connected to the grid must deal with power outages that often occur several times a day. Outside of the cities, the situation is even worse and rural homes, schools, farms and businesses, which are already poorer than their urban counterparts, must either get by without electricity or pay prohibitively high energy costs.

Supported by donor funding, the Solar Electric Light Fund, has installed solar energy systems in 20 schools, a fish farm and 2 agricultural farms in rural Haiti over the last two years in an effort to help address the rural energy problem. In April the MIF team met with SELF’s Haiti Project Manager Jean-Baptiste Certain, to see SELF’s systems in action in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

From Haiti to Whole Foods

Por Winsome Leslie

This photo story shows how the Mangos being sold at Whole Foods in the US are being harvested and processed by Haitian farmers. Join us on this trip: 

Two Steps Forward: Leopard Haiti Fund “spots” its first investment opportunity / Committee forms to coordinate external aid to Haiti

Por Nara Meli

I have written about the balance between aid and investment in previous posts, and the discussion has moved forward in the past few months. While the Martelly administration had made it clear it wanted to tip this balance toward more business investments (particularly bringing larger foreign companies to Haiti such as SAE-A, Heineken, Marriott and Best Western), it has also advanced another message: the need to better coordinate international aid. The impetus for this is of course, the earthquake of 2010, which prompted an unprecedented and largely unchecked torrent of relief funds from the international community. Many critical stories were told about the consequences of this situation.