Hillary Clinton in Haiti

Clinton Visits CHF Project in Haiti, Promotes HOPE II Act

Following an international donor’s conference in Haiti, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took time to meet with employees at one of the many companies benefiting from CHF International’s KATA program, which is focused on strengthening businesses and promoting stability in the impoverished island-nation. 

“All that the Haitian people need is the opportunity to work, under good conditions and with good wages,” Clinton said emphatically. She noted that the country holds a special place in her heart, as it was one of the first countries she and former US President Bill Clinton traveled to together after their marriage. “We had a wonderful time, and we kept a feeling of affection and commitment towards Haiti.”

The company Clinton visited, Inter American Wovens Factory, previously assembled basic textiles, such as basic white t-shirts and pants, for buyers in the US. But through the assistance provided by the KATA program, made possible through the invaluable support of USAID, the factory is learning new methods for management and production that make it significantly more efficient and profitable. Inter American Wovens Factory will be able to handle all aspects of clothing production—from pattern-making to final production—and will be equipped to tailor a wide range of garments.

One of the main reasons for Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Haiti was to highlight the importance of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act, which will provide the country with 10 years of tariff exemptions. The exemptions are intended to reduce costs for foreign businesses and stimulate investment in Haiti, and thereby provide greater economic opportunities for Haitians, who desperately need an improved quality of life.

As a result of the benefits afforded by the HOPE II Act and foreign development assistance provided from USAID via CHF’s KATA program, the some 500 women and men employed at Inter American Wovens Factory who make garments for the American market are now able to earn as much as three times the minimum wage in Haiti. The poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti has a per capita income of only $450, compared to the average in sub-Saharan Africa of $746. Haiti has struggled to rebuild following decades of sanctions, conflict and coups d’etat.

Since 2006, CHF International’s KATA program has been working to improve the quality of life for Haitians in the country’s most densely populated and volatile areas: Petit Goâve, Port-au-Prince, Saint-Marc, Gonaïves and Cap-Haïtien. A four-year program, KATA works to enhance stability and strategic infrastructure investments that are being operated, maintained, and sustained by Haitians.