Credit: Yunus Social Business Incubates Social Businesses in Haiti
Jan 12
January 12, 2014

Supporting Lasting, Sustainable Change in Haiti


After Haiti was impacted by a series of hurricanes in 2008, President Clinton called on the CGI community to respond at the Annual Meeting that year. 31 Commitments to Action were made to assist the country, valued at more than $100 million when fully implemented, amplifying the already robust efforts of CGI members’ in Haiti over the last several years. At the 2009 CGI Annual Meeting, members made additional Commitments to Action and came together to share progress and discuss new opportunities for positive impact. At this meeting, the Haiti Action Network was created to drive coordination, collaboration, and results. Denis O’Brien, Chairman of Digicel, stepped forward to chair the Network, and has continued to do so for the past four years.

Just a few months later, Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010 that claimed more than two hundred thousand lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Infrastructure in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas was destroyed, leaving a vast portion of the population without homes, hospitals, schools, electricity, water, sanitation, and other basic services.

In response, members of the Haiti Action Network intensified their efforts in the region, merging expertise and resources across sectors to provide immediate relief and long-term strategic investment. On the fourth anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, CGI would like to reflect on some of the more than 60 Commitments to Action made by the CGI community in Haiti since 2010, which are valued at $353 million when fully implemented. From engaging local artists and building new schools, to empowering social entrepreneurs, these CGI commitment-makers are demonstrating the power of partnerships to strategically support lasting and sustainable change in Haiti.


Empowering Adolescent Girls in Haiti, 2010

 AmeriCares Foundation, Inc.
Photo Credit: AmeriCares Foundation, Inc.

The Haiti Adolescent Girls Network committed to empower the most vulnerable Haitian girls, ages 10-to-19 years old, in the wake of the devastating earthquake. The program, locally named "Espas Pa Mwen," promotes social, health, and economic asset-building in protective girl-only spaces. Launched in July 2010, the initiative will help break the cycle of poverty and violence for 1,000 girls and 80 peer mentors, and serve as a vehicle for building the capacity of local and international NGOs to implement girl-centered programming. To date, the Network's eight implementing members collectively reach 600 girls who gather each week in designated safe spaces. Additionally, 38 young women have been trained as peer mentors and facilitate participatory learning activities on topics such as financial literacy, reproductive health and rights, leadership and civic engagement, hygiene and cholera prevention.


Health Infrastructure to Combat Cholera, 2013

MASS Design Group, in partnership with Les Centres GHESKIO, committed to design ten Health and Hydration Centers (HHCs) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to address the current cholera epidemic spreading across the country. The HHCs present a new paradigm for diarrheal disease treatment and prevention, providing a primary health care center, chlorinated water distribution, and an on-site wastewater treatment facility to prevent recontamination. MASS will also develop a plan for city-wide replication of HHCs and envisions partnering with MSPP and other stakeholders to integrate this model into health facilities across Port-au-Prince, bolstering long-term Haitian community health.


Building 80 New Schools in Haiti, 2011

 Digicel Haiti Foundation
Photo Credit: Digicel Haiti Foundation

The Digicel Foundation committed to provide new quality infrastructure for 80 schools in Haiti, and to launch the initiative in the north of the country. Over a two-year period, along with building safe learning spaces, the Digicel Foundation aims to improve teacher capacity by funding teacher training programs, with an ultimate goal of providing 40,000 children with access to education. As of January 2014, Digicel Foundation has completed 42 schools in its school construction project, and with an additional currently 27 underway, the foundation will reach its goal of 150 schools by September 2014.


Rehumanizing Retail: Scaling Artisan Production, 2013

West Elm committed $35 million in purchase order financing paid directly to artisans who use handcraft techniques. Working in Haiti and other nations, West Elm will collaborate with over 20 artisan groups in 15 countries, making 3-to-5 year commitments to artisan manufacturers. This commitment will create over 4,500 economic opportunities for artisans to improve livelihoods; support craft communities through partnerships with Craftmark, Craftlink, and Fair Trade; empower women through business; preserve unique, cultural craft traditions; and help create a model for a global third-party handcrafted certification, designed to validate and grow the demand for artisan-made goods.


Sustainable Sanitation in Haiti, 2011

 Sustainable Sanitation in Haiti - Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL)
Photo Credit: Sustainable Sanitation in Haiti - Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL)

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) committed to provide ecological sanitation systems to people living in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps and scale waste treatment facilities. Simultaneously, the organization will develop a sustainable and replicable business model for household sanitation systems to promote livelihood opportunities and provide reliable service packages to community participants. SOIL completed part of their commitment in 2011, providing emergency sanitation services to 20,000 people living in IDP camps. The organization has also provided services to 4,500 people remaining in camps that SOIL has been serving since the earthquake. SOIL now has two waste treatment facilities and has the capacity to produce one million gallons of compost per year.


Build It Back Better: Empowering Haiti Tourism Development, 2012

Marriott International, in partnership with the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Haitian Tourism Ministry, committed to create a comprehensive report on Haiti's tourism infrastructure and engage public and private partners in transforming the report's recommendations into action. The report will analyze the current landscape of tourism in Haiti and recommend strategies for attracting investment. As a result of its commitment, in December 2012, Marriott broke ground on a $45 million, 175-room Marriott hotel in Port-au-Prince, and is currently working on a leadership development program to prepare young Haitians for career opportunities with Marriott. The hotel in Port-au-Prince will serve as an incubator for workforce development and a beacon for future investment in the tourism sector.


Yunus Social Business Incubates Social Businesses in Haiti, 2011

 Yunus Social Business
Photo Credit: Yunus Social Business

Professor Muhammad Yunus, the Grameen Creative Lab (GCL), and SAP AG committed to launch Yunus Social Business, a fund which identifies and invests in social businesses that have high social and ecological impact. Yunus Social Business aimed to raise at least $4 million and fund at least 12 social businesses in Haiti. To date, Yunus Social Business has invested in 7 social businesses which are now operational, creating over 300 sustainable jobs and providing more than 1,320 young people with entrepreneurship training.


Distribution of Efficient Cook Stoves in Haiti, 2011

D&E Green Enterprises committed to manufacture and distribute 100,000 cookstoves, create 30 jobs, and expand its distributor network to 100 individuals over the next three years. The commitment builds on D&E's introduction of environmentally friendly cookstoves, called the EchoRecho, to the Haitian market in November 2009. D&E aims to slow deforestation, improve health, and increase the economic status of charcoal users in Haiti. To date, D&E has manufactured and distributed 40,000 cookstoves.


The Sun Lights the Way: Brightening Boucan Carré, 2010

NRG Energy committed to work with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) to expand clean, renewable power opportunities to the Haitian commune of Boucan Carré, in an area surrounding an anchor site that houses a medical clinic already powered by solar electricity. By clustering clean energy applications to power village resources such as a fish farm, water pumping for drinking and drip-irrigation, schools, street lighting, and other community needs, NRG seeks to demonstrate how fundamental reliable electricity service is to rebuilding Haiti—and that it can be provided cleanly and affordably over the long-term with solar energy. NRG has already completed its commitment, through collaboration with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a nonprofit organization—installing solar electric systems at 20 schools, as well as a fish farm and a drip-irrigation system supporting agricultural production throughout Haiti's Central Plateau region.


Water & Sanitation Solutions for Haiti, 2009

In 2009, committed to raise and invest $2 million to reach at least 50,000 people with safe water and sanitation in Haiti during a three-year period through 2012. works with local partner NGOs, supporting them with its grant-driven programs, and also focuses on financial innovation by exploring relationships with microfinance partners in Haiti under its WaterCredit Initiative. is working with three local Haitian NGO partners (Haiti Outreach, PRODEVA, and ASSODLO) to address the long-term water and sanitation needs of 50,000 people in underserved communities in Haiti by June 2014. Through this commitment, seeks to deliver reliable and sustainable water and sanitation services to families in areas that have been affected by and remain highly vulnerable to cholera.