Thankfully, the natural instinct of the global community is “How can I help?” when disaster hits. As we grow through this current disaster in Haiti, perhaps the question should develop into, “How can I invest in Haiti?”
The question is, how can the international community really help especially after the television cameras disappear to cover the next crisis. The international community can invest in new buildings, energy efficiency, reliable and relevant health care, educational systems and new technology. I would propose that anyone doing business in Haiti, whether it is a government organization, a non-governmental organization, a non-profit/charity; a religious organization, an individual donor – basically any enterprise that has any dealings with Haiti – take an oath of fair business.
In a business way of thinking, if success is not being accomplished, then plans can change and be adapted to a new formula for success. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? In business, there is a reality; either it is working or it isn’t. If it isn’t working, a new plan for success is created.
My suggestion is to integrate fair business principles to lead good governance, economic opportunities, education for all and basic health rights.
For Haiti, thinking out of the box is vital. Aid dollars need to be invested differently now. I emphasize investment because financial support is an investment in the future capabilities of Haiti. Investing in charities only builds charities and is not creating self-sustaining opportunities.
Investing in a transparent, socially responsible, accountable organization is vital to changing the dynamic on the ground. With a little bit of broadminded thinking, purchases and donations become growth opportunities. Rebuilding Haiti is the opportunity for a 21st century Marshall Plan. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.
An easy option is to purchase items made in the crisis country be it art, furniture, produce, clothing, machinery, etc. If it says “Made in Haiti” buy it.
In addition, a multitude of investment options are available. Options include investing in health care, education, refugee support, loans, housing, green building, energy efficiency and venture capital funds. Think outside of the box. Ask questions. Invest in building the nation up not rebuilding the status quo.
Some organizations to consider:
ACCION International – Microfinance
Calvert Social Investment – Loan fund
Catholic Relief Services – Microfinance
Developing World Markets – Bank
Emergency Liquidity Facility – Venture Capital Fund
Fonkoze – Microfinance
Freedom from Hunger – Microfinance
Habitat for Humanity International – Housing developer
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) – Venture Capital Fund
Oikocredit – Loan Fund
SERRV International – Social Enterprise
Businesses have a powerful role to play in any society. It is time to think out of the box when a crisis hits and invest in for-profit enterprises to create jobs, stability, health, security and start to leverage the talents of the community.
Make a difference, invest in Haiti.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.