Yesterday, on my way to the airport, I struck up a conversation with a Haitian cab driver. “My country is open for business again,” he said proudly, and in the same sentence recounted how many of his family members had died two years ago. On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people, displacing 1 million more, and destroying Haiti’s fragile economy. Now, two years later, the Haitian economy remains underdeveloped and infrastructure is still poor, but there are signs of recovery.
I spoke recently with Gary Edson, CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, who spends much of his time visiting enterprises and entrepreneurs across Haiti. "While progress in Haiti can be difficult to measure,” he said, “the Haitian businesses and workers we are supporting today are hopeful examples of how Haiti can thrive." The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, recognizing Root Capital’s ability to make a difference in Haiti by providing access to financial capital and market connections, has partnered with us.
Root Capital began lending in Haiti a year ago with an investment in COOPCAB, a cooperative representing more than 5,000 coffee farming families. COOPCAB is located in one of the few remaining tracts of Haitian rainforest. In a country where only 1.5 percent of forest cover remains, shade-grown coffee production provides a way to link economic opportunity to environmental conservation. This year, facilitated by Root Capital financing, COOPCAB expects to export six times as much coffee as last year. You can find out more on our website.
Since Root Capital’s first loan to COOPCAB, we have disbursed more than one million dollars in loans to six small and growing Haitian businesses and have seen a clear need to complement our lending with financial management training. Improving business skills speeds the process by which rural enterprises can access credit, while enabling them to compete better in global markets and capture more economic benefits for local communities.
I am proud that Root Capital, in our own small way, is contributing to Haiti’s recovery. I look forward to providing additional signs of progress throughout the year.
William Foote, Founder and CEO
“Agriculture is the key to building Haiti’s economy,” says Cassandra Reimers, Vice President of CariFresh, a produce exporter in Haiti. Today, with loans from Root Capital, CariFresh is able to access the organic mango export market and pay their 100 producers premium prices.
Interview with Gary Edson, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
Gary Edson is the CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The Fund has awarded Root Capital more than $2 million dollars since 2010 to provide financing and deliver technical assistance to businesses in Haiti. Donations to Root Capital support financial training for our clients and are used to leverage and expand the reach of our investment funds and portfolios, so that we can reach more businesses.
RC: What role do small and growing agricultural businesses play in Haiti’s recovery?
GE: Agriculture is vital to Haiti’s recovery. A growing agricultural sector, with efficient supply chains, can help increase farmer incomes through import substitutions as well as export opportunities. Agribusinesses also play an important role in decentralization by promoting prosperity in rural communities throughout the country.
RC: What role does Root Capital play in the recovery?
GE: The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund chose to invest in Root Capital in 2010, recognizing how important—and challenging—it is for the rural poor to have access to finance. Our second round of support for Root Capital brought our contribution to more than $2 million, and we continue to see how families are benefitting and communities are transforming through agricultural business.
With access to capital, education, and markets, small agricultural businesses are already showing progress. As these businesses continue to develop, we look forward to seeing crops flourishing, international investment being attracted to Haiti, and small business owners prospering. Through Root Capital and all of the programs we support, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is working to support the Haitian people as they rebuild their own country.
New and Noteworthy
Root Capital was named one of the Top 100 Best NGOs byThe Global Journal, a print and online publication based in Geneva and New York that covers the issues and players shaping global governance. See the full list
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Root Capital seeks a proactive and motivated Portfolio Associate to support the Portfolio Operations Team in performing portfolio data reporting and loan servicing in Root Capital’s Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters. Candidates should possess one to two years of experience in office support, a strong client service philosophy, and a passion for Root Capital’s mission. Candidates must be fluent in Spanish.