More than three years after the January 2010 earthquake, the Clinton Foundation remains committed to Haiti’s long-term recovery by focusing on economic development and job creation. One of President Clinton’s objectives in Haiti is to find business-oriented solutions that create jobs and revitalize industry to create a stronger Haiti that relies less on foreign aid and more on the enterprise of its people. The Clinton Foundation’s work in the artisan sector has been a strong example of this strategy. Supporting local artisans and connecting them to new markets not only spurs economic growth, it promotes the culture of the Haitian people.
By highlighting the unique arts and handicrafts that are part of Haitian tradition, and helping these artisans to expand their operations, improve their production facilities and processes, and find new national and international buyers and retailers, President Clinton has succeeded in helping this sector to grow. This important aspect of Haitian culture is now an increasingly valuable sector of the Haitian economy, creating jobs, celebrating tradition and bringing a positive image of Haiti to the world.
The Clinton Foundation and its partners are supporting a variety of Haitian entrepreneurs and small businesses by providing grants and important business tools. In 2013, for example, the Clinton Foundation provided a grant to Papillon Enterprises to enable them to expand their business. The grant covered capacity building, new staff, and new materials and equipment that have enabled Papillon enterprises to meet the growing markets for their products and to provide stable, well-paid jobs for 200 artisans in the Delmas community.
In close collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, Greif, Inc. contributed 40 tons of steel to the Croix des Bouquets metal workers association directly after the earthquake. Today, they are providing the association and its members with an additional 70 tons of steel as well as crucial health and safety training and equipment to support their growing business.
Through the Clinton Foundation, the Haiti Development Fund awarded its first loan of $415,000 to Caribbean Craft. This loan will support Caribbean Craft to expand its factory operations by constructing a new building and hiring up to 200 new employees, a necessary step to ensure that they can fulfill the numerous new orders they are receiving from stores such as West Elm, Restoration Hardware and Anthropologie for their beautiful handicraft products.
Donna Karan and her Urban Zen Foundation have also been working closely with a diverse group of Haitian artisans to develop and market new Haitian artisan products. Haitian art was the inspiration behind Donna’s 2012 spring collection and she brought the Donna Karan Company to Jacmel to shoot the spring catalogue. Oprah travelled to Haiti in December 2011 to highlight this partnership and the great work that both Donna and Magalie Dresse of Caribbean Crafts are doing for Haiti.
Artisans and entrepreneurs are the key to Haiti’s economic recovery, and the Clinton Foundation continues to support the people of Haiti by fostering relationships between Haitian artisans and retailers, creating jobs and strengthening Haitian communities.