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Progress Continues as the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Steps Back

Article by Willy Foote, CEO of Root Capital
December 14, 2012
Last week, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund announced that it was closing up shop in Haiti on December 31.
As you may recall, the Fund was created by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush in the aftermath of the epic 2010 earthquake that brought that small island nation to its knees. The fund raised $54 million that has now been distributed to more than 50 businesses and organizations to spur sustainable development and bridge the gap between short-term reconstruction needs and longer-term development.
Like Root Capital, the agricultural lender that I founded over a decade ago, the fund recognized that smallholder agriculture is one of the keys to rebuilding the shattered economy outside the over-burdened capital of Port-au-Prince.
Thanks to that alignment, Root Capital received $2 million from the fund for providing credit, market connections and financial management training to small agricultural businesses that provide the western hemisphere’s poorest farmers a better life. Since late 2010, we’ve financed eight rural enterprises that source from thousands of smallholder farmers producing coffee, cocoa, mangoes and essential oils used in cosmetics and perfumes. Our current clients represent 17,560 farmers supporting more than 87,000 household members.
The fact is, we wouldn’t be operating in Haiti if it weren’t for the Clinton Bush Haiti initiative, and support from The World We Want Foundation in Sweden. But even after the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund spends down its remaining funds and steps back, we will remain—even though Haiti is without a doubt the most demanding environment that we operate in across our entire global portfolio.
We have worked in 30 African, Latin American and Caribbean countries since 2000 and we’re bringing all that learning and innovation to address the challenges of building agricultural businesses that generate long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability in rural Haiti. It has been hard, truth to tell. The business challenges concentrated in that one small, impoverished nation are formidable—from weak government systems, to severe environmental degradation (less than 1.5 percent of land is forested in Haiti) to limited education and poor health status.
Consequently, most groups in Haiti, regardless of their business experience, need some form of financial management training intervention in order to grow and thrive.
Take COOPCAB, a 5,000 member fair trade coffee cooperative located in the mountainous village of Thiotte in southeast Haiti, an area of extreme poverty. COOPCAB is one of the strongest businesses we’ve seen in Haiti. With our financing it’s been able to increase its exports six-fold and source from an additional 1,000 coffee farmers, generating stable and increased incomes for its member base. The cooperative has even tied environmental conservation to economic benefit, introducing a reforestation program that delivers more than 100,000 coffee and tree seedlings to its producer members annually.
Yet even COOPCAB, which is managed by local Haitian farmers with little formal training in financial management and accounting, needs technical and financial assistance to reach its full potential.
As a consequence, we’ve had to innovate and hone our business model in Haiti, slowing our lending in the short term while accelerating and deepening our financial advisory services program. We’re making an investment that’s building long-term capacity among Haitian small businesses.
We’re doing that by sharpening our investment strategy that combines credit with financial management training. We’re developing new training tools and products, tying lead generation to introductory financial management training and tightly integrating our lending, financial advisory service, and impact analysis teams throughout our organization.
And we’re seeing slow but steady results.
Just last week I received a call from Paul Altidor, who recently left the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to become the new Haitian ambassador to the United States. Having observed our work on the ground, Ambassador Altidor asked Root Capital to join a consortium of practitioners to make formal policy recommendations that might help unlock much-needed agricultural finance from local banks and other sources of capital in Haiti. We fully intend to do so, and it’s a two way street.
Haiti, with all its thorny challenges, is spurring innovation at Root Capital. And as we retool our investment strategies to meet the most challenging of business environments, we are taking those new strategies and systems and applying them across our entire global operation, expanding our ability to reach ever more of the 500 million farmers living on less than $2 a day.
So as the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund prepares to cease its operations, we’d like to say thanks for serving as a catalyst, for helping build Haitian agriculture that empowers small-scale farmers and is truly sustainable in the long-term.

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Commits Its Remaining Funds

Meg Galloway Pearce, 202-572-4045, or


Final Grants Promote Economic Opportunity as Haitians Transition to Long-Term Reconstruction
WASHINGTON, DC – The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund today announced its final grants to organizations promoting economic opportunity in Haiti. By dedicating the $54.4 million it raised after the January 2010 earthquake to support more than 50 organizations, the Fund has helped Haitians create a better future through smart, sustainable economic development. While much work remains to be done in Haiti, the Fund has now met its main objectives—to serve as a bridge from post-disaster relief to longer-term reconstruction.
The grants, loans, and equity investments the Fund made serve as seeds of economic progress that will continue to germinate after the Fund closes. To date, the Fund’s programs have sustained or created 7,350 jobs, trained 20,050 people, and affected more than 311,000 lives, from at-risk youth to farmers to entrepreneurs to doctors.
“We are ready to step back and bear witness as Haitians take control of their own rebuilding. Any successes we have had are not ours, but the Haitian people’s,” said Clinton Bush Haiti Fund CEO Gary Edson.
The Fund focused its efforts in four key areas: revitalizing microfinance institutions, connecting small and growing businesses with access to financing and business development services, building human capital through workforce training, and responding to critical unmet needs. These programs span a variety of sectors, ranging from agriculture to micro and small businesses to artisan crafts.
“As the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund prepares to cease its operations, we’d like to thank the Fund for serving as a catalyst, for helping build Haitian agriculture that empowers small-scale farmers and is truly sustainable in the long-term,” said William Foote, founder and CEO of Root Capital, a social investment fund that was able to enter Haiti because of the support of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Going Forward
On December 31, 2012, the Fund will cease formal operations. Going forward, the Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, will manage programs that have not yet been fully completed, and will receive funds from remaining loans. These loan repayments will be reinvested into programs consistent with the Fund’s mission to promote economic opportunity in Haiti.
The Fund is already seeing the multiplying power that reinvesting these funds can have. In 2011, the Fund made a $2 million equity investment in the 128-room Royal Oasis Hotel, contributing to the opening of the hotel and a significant economic ripple effect from its construction and operation. The Fund has now monetized the shares, committing to recycle the money to add another $2 million to the $2 million it has previously contributed toward reconstructing the State University of Haiti’s Faculty of Sciences. This money has gone from launching a hotel to its second life of educating the scientists and engineers that will rebuild Haiti’s future.
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s Final Grants
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s final grants are empowering diverse populations throughout the country.
The Fund committed $403,656 to Inveneo to complete the Haiti Connected Cities project, which is bringing broadband connectivity to underserved regions throughout Haiti. In December 2010, the Fund made a grant to Inveneo to launch the project. With this grant, Inveneo will deploy the network in a sixth and final region, increasing broadband wireless access for businesses, schools, and individuals in the municipality of Jéremié. It will also help Inveneo transition the network to Haitian ownership.
Family Health Ministries
The Fund also committed a $731,130 grant to Family Health Ministries to support screenings for cervical cancer prevention. Through the program, Family Health Ministries will screen an additional 10,000 women for the human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of the highly preventable disease. With approximately 35% of women in Haiti infected with HPV, the grant is expected to save more than 600 lives and create 30 jobs.
The World We Want Foundation (Stockholm, Sweden) for the Caribbean Harvest Foundation
The Fund made a $250,000 grant to support the Caribbean Harvest Foundation as it constructs and equips a fish processing plant in Croix-des-Bouquets. Caribbean Harvest will sell the fish to local hotels, restaurants, and shops while employing 60 Haitian workers and benefiting more than 350 fish farming families in rural Haiti.
The Fund made a $434,375 grant to Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral, a Dominican nonprofit organization, to establish permanent kitchen facilities for enterprising cooks at the Compagnie de Développement Industriel (CODEVI) industrial park in the northeast Haitian town of Ouanaminthe. Cooks currently operate in make-shift, unsanitary stalls outside the park. Fifty new individual kitchens will provide access to running water, electricity, and new equipment.
The Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank is contributing $600,000 to this project to provide technical assistance for the cooks once construction is complete.
Architecture for Humanity
The Fund made a second grant of $370,081 to Architecture for Humanity in continued support of the Haiti Rebuilding Center in Port-au-Prince. This grant will enable Architecture for Humanity to continue training Haitians in the construction sector and increase access to and training in safe, sustainable construction. The Haiti Rebuilding Center is helping Haitians build back safely by providing job-site training, design and engineering services, and professional seminars for Haitian contractors.
Clinton Foundation and the Multilateral Investment Fund
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s remaining commitments will be to the Clinton Foundation’s Haiti initiative and the Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group. The amount of these grants will be finalized by year’s end when the Fund ceases operations. Presidents Clinton and Bush selected these organizations, which will use these funds to support programs consistent with the Fund’s mission of promoting economic opportunity in Haiti. The MIF has been active in Haiti for almost two decades and already has co-financed a number of Clinton Bush Haiti Fund projects.

About the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded after Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, when President Barack Obama asked former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to assist the Haitian people in building their own country back better. The Fund used these donations to make grants, loans, and equity investments in organizations promoting job growth and smart, sustainable economic development. Now, having served as a bridge from post-disaster relief to longer-term reconstruction, the Fund is stepping back, empowering Haiti to chart its own successful future. To learn more visit
About the Multilateral Investment Fund
The Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the IDB Group, supports private sector-led development benefitting the poor—their businesses, their farms, and their households. The MIF aims to give low-income populations tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technologies. The Multilateral Investment Fund has a longstanding relationship with Haiti, having worked there since 1995 in sectors ranging from microfinance to agriculture, and already has co-financed a number of projects in the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund portfolio. To learn more visit