Some 30,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in Haiti’s informal sector will soon benefit from a United States Agency for International Development project termed Atteindre (Reach/Attain).
In a press release last week, the United States Embassy in Port-au-Prince announced that USAID will fund the four-year project to the tune of US$12 million. Through the project, the agency is aiming to support local small businesses to develop business plans, access bank loans, formalise their operations, and acquire the skilled labour they need to become more profitable.
As part of the project, USAID will partner with the Mennonite Economic Development Associates to help the MSMEs to grow and create employment.
According to US Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison, “Haitian small businesses are the drivers of long-term economic growth. The U.S. Embassy is working to increase opportunities for Haitian entrepreneurs; helping these businesses grow will increase Haitian families’ incomes and build more resilient communities.”
She also pointed that since USAID’s mission is to make the Western Hemisphere more “peaceful, secure, and prosperous by strengthening the capacity of governments and private entities to improve governance and create an economic environment in which the private sector can flourish and create jobs”.
Data has revealed that informal MSMEs in Haiti generate up to 80 per cent of new jobs; however, entrepreneurs have to cope with challenges that impede the growth of their businesses. Among the difficulties they face include limited access to financing from formal institutions and a lack of sufficient services that provide advice on expanding businesses.
To this end, “USAID will create a more business-friendly environment by addressing the key challenges to business creation and inclusive expansion,” the release from the US Embassy noted.
As such, the project will seek to create a network of Haitian business advisors that will provide MSMEs with affordable advice and workforce training tailored to their specific needs. In addition, it aims to facilitate a better relationship between MSMEs and financial institutions in order to help the former access the capital they need to invest in their businesses.
In order to reach more businesses and create more jobs, the project will strengthen sector associations while supporting the Government of Haiti’s strategy for MSME expansion and job creation.
“This project will build on USAID’s long-standing commitment to support local businesses in Haiti. Based on all the lessons learned over the years by USAID, we are looking forward to working closely with businesses to create opportunities for them to get more financing, become more competitive, and generate jobs,” Claude Clodomir, chief of party of the USAID Atteindre project stated.
Over the last 10 years, USAID has helped over 12,000 microenterprises to secure loans to expand their operations. Moreover, some 90 MSMEs have generated US$110 million in sales and created approximately 27,000 jobs after receiving support from the agency.