Friday, September 26, 2008

USAID Announces Haiti Diaspora Investment Challenge


Haitian Americans who have long dreamed of creating jobs in Haiti, but lacked the capital, can now get a little help, courtesy of the U.S. government.

Henrietta Fore, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, said the agency has set up a $2 million investment fund to assist members of the Haitian diaspora who have a sustainable business plan and are willing to partner with Haiti's private sector to create jobs in the country.

''We are trying to get small and medium businesses that can provide employment, and put money in the pockets of Haitians,'' Fore told The Miami Herald shortly after making the announcement to a group of Haitians in New York, where she was making the rounds at the United Nations General Assembly. ``This at least will get things started.''

Fore said the agency is still in the process of designing the fund, known as The Haiti Diaspora Investment Challenge Facility, but applicants will be allowed to apply for up to $100,000 grants.

Her agency is also talking to donors from other countries in hopes of having them donate money to the fund.

''For every dollar we put in, we are hoping it will be matched by at least $2 by diaspora investments,'' she said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the inclusion of $100 million for hurricane relief and reconstruction assistance to Haiti and other Caribbean nations in HR 2638, the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act. U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Kendrick Meek, co-chairmen of the Congressional Black Caucus' Haiti Working Group, said they were encouraged by the vote.

Fore, who flew to Haiti shortly after Hurricane Ike sideswiped the island, said USAID has committed $30 million in emergency relief to the island so far, including $2 million for emergency bridges to help reconnect the country after eight major bridges collapsed.

Also, with more than half of this year's harvest destroyed, Fore said USAID is redirecting the $279 million it had already committed to the country to address agriculture needs and other concerns.

For more information about USAID and its programs in Haiti, visit
The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.

CONTACT: Public Information: 202-712-4810

Source: U.S. Agency for International Development - MiamiHerald.Com

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