Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Co-Chairs Visit Small Businesses in Haiti

Today, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund co-chairs arrive in Haiti to meet with several of the small businesses and workforce development programs the Fund has supported. Co-chairs Joshua Bolten, former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, and Laura Graham, Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton, are taking this opportunity to visit as the Fund prepares to commit its remaining funds in 2012. Once it does so, the Fund will step back, empowering Haiti to chart its own successful future.

“By providing training, increasing access to financing, and improving the livelihoods of individual Haitians across the country, we are reaching the people-from doctors to small business owners to farmers-who are building a stronger Haiti,” Gary Edson, CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, said. “Importantly, the results we see from projects we have funded are just the beginning: we look forward to seeing their progress in the years to come.”

As part of the co-chairs’ visit, they are attending the opening of the Royal Oasis Hotel in Port-au-Prince, which the Fund helped finance. During its construction phase, the hotel supported more than 400 construction jobs. Going forward, the hotel will employ close to 200 staff, and will support even more indirect jobs, ranging from restaurant suppliers to local artisans.

On Thursday, the co-chairs will visit the Haiti Hospitality School, which is preparing students with professional training for hospitality jobs throughout the country. The Oasis Hotel’s philanthropic arm reopened the school with a grant from the Fund.

Thursday’s visits will highlight the Fund’s commitment to small and growing businesses. The co-chairs will meet with the Haitian entrepreneurs who started the office supply store Global Home and Office Smart and whose retail outlet was rebuilt with a loan from the Fund. They will also visit fund grantee GaMa’s KayTek factory, which is producing steel framing for construction. GaMa recently completed reconstruction on the historic Sacre Coeur secondary school in Port-au-Prince. Nearly 1,000 students attend the school.

As the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund continues to spend down its remaining funds, it today announced more than $2.5 million in new grants to programs that are working toward a healthier, more resilient future for Haiti.

The Fund granted $334,335 to the HAND/EYE Fund in support of the Artisan Business Network (ABN) in preparation for a long-term artisan project by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank. The ABN was created to help meet the supply and demand of Haitian artisan products among U.S. retailers. It established two depots to store and display products, as well as one hub in Port-au-Prince to secure purchase orders.

The Fund made its first grant to HAND/EYE in 2011 to launch the ABN. Now, the MIF plans to use the ABN as a model for a multi-year project to improve the artisan sector’s capacity and help it respond to global demand.

The Fund granted $217,688 to Grameen Creative Lab to on-lend to SESA, a Haitian social business that is turning jatropha plant into products such as oil and animal feed. These products will provide a substitute for expensive imported diesel fuel and soy meal. Area farmers cultivate the fruit of the small plant and bring it to SESA’s newly funded processing facility, turning it into three products: biofuel oil, protein meal, and cooking briquettes. With this financing, SESA will create 16 jobs and increase revenues for up to 200 local farmers.

A $616,245 grant to Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is promoting sanitation at the household level in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. With this grant, SOIL will install and manage 300 toilets that make it possible to transform human waste into valuable fertilizer. As part of a fee-based model, SOIL installs toilets, and then transports waste weekly to its waste-treatment site.