sewing in haiti

Double Bottom Line: Public Private Partnerships in Haiti

Less than 500 miles from the coast of the United States lies the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Marked by decades of political instability, poverty and humanitarian disasters, Haiti presents one of the world’s most complex development challenges. In spite of this complex and challenging environment, a new momentum to capture the Haitian people’s spirit of the enterprise and incredible potential is building within Haiti and the international community. Harnessing this spirit, CHF and the private sector have created a series of imaginative and innovative public private partnerships focused on economic development efforts that highlight and harness demand-driven employment to spur long term economic growth.

For more than ten years, CHF International has been actively working in Haiti to accelerate the pace of development from humanitarian relief and a subsidy based paradigm to sustainable, holistic economic development. With assistance from USAID, CHF is implementing a $104 million infrastructure development program, focused on promoting stability through job creation and infrastructure enhancement in five of Haiti’s most volatile urban centers. Following an initial focus on generating short-term employment through labor-intensive clean-up and infrastructure projects, CHF has positioned KATA to be a leverage point for long term employment opportunity. CHF has turned to building demand driven partnerships for the private sector that take advantage of Haiti’s proximity, human capital, and its most favorable trade status conferred by the US government through the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act to generate long-term employment.

In a country like Haiti infrastructure not only provides a substantial development challenge, but also a sector with an enormous potential for revenue. In fact the construction sector is Haiti’s largest in terms of overall revenue, but its growth has been slowed not by demand, but by a dearth of skilled labor. As a result of this human capital shortage, firms such as HayTrac, Caterpillar’s authorized dealer in Haiti, were forced to import skilled labor for the operation of Caterpillar equipment from as far away as Chile. Recognizing this challenge, CHF and Haytrac formed an innovative public private partnership that created dual returns and met complementary objectives. Haytrac donated land, training equipment and Caterpillar machines, CHF provided training and a workforce development curriculum, and USAID provided donor funding. This partnership was able to establish a new training center for Caterpillar operators that are integrated into the KATA program and met the double bottom line of business and development: meeting Caterpillar’s critical need for the development of a skilled labor pool while also creating more than 100 long-term jobs.

CHF’s success in forming innovative demand driven partnerships hasn’t stopped with infrastructure, but has focused on leveraging its proximity, people, and trade position to reinvigorate Haiti’s textile industry. Because of the HOPE II Act, which provides the country with 10 years of tariff exemptions to reduce the cost of and stimulate foreign direct investment, the textile industry in Haiti is poised on the brink of enormous growth.

By working with [TC]2, a member-driven non-profit association comprised of members from the US garment sector, the KATA program is building the Haiti Apparel Institute, a world class training center for the Haitian textile industry. In addition to training operators and future employees in Haiti’s garment sector, the center will work with the management and executives in these companies so that they can move up the value chain and learn how to produce garments from start to finish – rather than just cutting or sewing. Not only will this partnership provide Haitians with one of the most advanced training centers in the western hemisphere, but it is creating approximately 2,000 long-term jobs.

The success of CHF’s partnership model is Haiti is simple – focus development objectives with an eye towards long term business objectives to generate dual returns. By focusing economic development aid on sustainable, holistic demand driven employment generation CHF and its corporate partners are able to create leverage and exponential impact. In both cases, CHF and its partners identified shared objectives, shared goals and a shared commitment to meeting the needs of the Haitian people. These types of public-private partnerships can be created, can be brought to scale and can create the cornerstone to moving the people of Haiti beyond a reliance on humanitarian assistance towards sustainable development and lasting economic growth – but this type of growth is only possible when mission meets meaning.