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.

How to do business in Haiti? Invest in women and in partnerships

By Nara Meli

A few days ago, I attended the 4th Annual Haiti Business Investment Expo and Conference, here in Washington, D.C.

There was a large Haitian turnout among the participants: The Expo hosted no less than 48 Haitian businesses and associations, providing networking opportunities for the participants between the discussion sessions. Other NGOs, enterprises, financial institutions and donors also participated on panels such as “registering a business in Haiti”, “Haiti’s investment opportunities”, and “partnering to grow the manufacturing and textiles industry”.


HELP: Lessons learned from working in fragile settings

By 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.  

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

By 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.

Different traditions meet in Haitian health care

By Nara Meli

Where do you go if you get sick? Do you call your doctor? Does someone drive you to the emergency room? Is it far? Can you afford it? Does the hospital have the medicine that you need?

What would your life look like if you had limited access to health services?

If you were Haitian, in all likelihood, you would call on the houngan or mambo (male/female voodoo priest), and he/she would perform some “spiritual power” to cure you – 90% of the population, rich or poor, practices Voodoo and believes in its healing powers. Many will go to their priest before seeing a doctor. Failing the voodoo remedy, if you live around Port-au-Prince, you would climb aboard a tap-tap – a local bus – and head over to the Hôpital de l’Université d’Etat, or Hôpital Général, the main public hospital.  

Made in Haiti

By Nara Meli

Last week, while I was in Haiti, I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit a few artisan workshops both in Croix-des-Bouquets and Port-au-Prince.

My guide was Nathalie Tancrede from the Artisan Business Network, through which MIF is financing a project to boost the incomes and skills of Haitian artisans (see links hereand here). She would show me who are the artisans that are part of ABN, and whom the MIF would be supporting.