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Roughly 2.5 million Haitians live in extreme poverty (below $1.25 per day), predominantly in rural areas. The economy is largely informal and heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, which has languished in the face of growing rural population pressures, recurrent natural calamities, adverse climate change, and a lack of access to modern technology in the absence of a functional agricultural extension service. Haiti can also be a difficult place for businesses to thrive, ranking 180 of 189 on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. Despite these challenges, Haiti has had positive economic growth rates since 2011, averaging 3.9 percent through 2015.
USAID Strategy and Activities
Improving incomes and livelihoods for Haitian households hinges on strengthening informal micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, both technically and organizationally, and strengthening the value chains within which those businesses operate. USAID supports the creation of full-time, formal-sector employment in key industrial sectors, including agribusiness, apparel, and construction.
Creating more productive value chains for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises: Improving and strengthening activities along the value chain is a key USAID priority designed to increase output, income, and employment in Haiti. USAID provides vocational training as well as practical skills for the workplace and business management.
Mobilizing Haitian diaspora investment and know-how: Recognizing the unique skills that Haitian Americans contribute to Haiti’s success, USAID works with diaspora organizations in a number of programs focused on economic growth. For example, the Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) project improves access to investment capital for Haitian businesses and strengthens their business skills. The project has attracted investments in Haitian small and medium enterprises through a matching grants program; 35 percent of applicants are from the Haitian diaspora.
Developing public-private partnerships: USAID is using public-private partnerships in Haiti to improve social and economic conditions as well as to deepen the Agency’s development impact. For example, USAID works with local Heineken subsidiary BRANA to help up to 18,000 farmers increase yields for sorghum, which is used to make Malta H, a popular non-alcoholic beverage.
Improving access to credit: USAID facilitates guarantees of up to $57 million in loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises through credit guarantees under its Development Credit Authority (DCA).
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Last updated: November 29, 2016