The Builders of Haiti ™ Project

The Builders of Haiti ™ Project

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We want to support sustainable economic development and job creation in Haiti by unlocking the investment potential of remittances from its Diaspora. This will be done by setting up a network of The Builders of Haiti ™ chapters to pool together giving and make direct investments in Haitian MSMEs. It will encourage entrepreneurship in Haiti, create jobs and generate social and financial returns for the Diaspora partners. Once perfected, this model can be replicated to the benefit of communities around the world.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Haitian Diaspora Community (HDC) in North America is estimated at about 2 million people, with about 250,000 living in Canada and the remainder in the United States. The HDC is concentrated in urban areas. In Canada, the HDC is concentrated in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto and in the US it is concentrated in New York City, Miami and Boston. It is a diverse community composed of political refugees that emigrated in the 1950’s and 1960’s, professionals that left in the 1970’s and of more recent immigrants seeking economic security since the 1980’s. As such, along side new Haitian immigrants can be found third generation Haiti descendents in any one of these centres. This community is among the most generous in the world towards its country of origin. Whereas remittances trail foreign direct investment for many developing countries, the approximately US$2 Billion in remittances from the HDC represents the largest source of financial resources for Haiti. According to World Bank reports, these amounts may represent between a quarter and half of Haiti’s national income. This already large contribution is estimated to have surged by some 20% following the devastating January 2010 earthquake. The uncertainty in the amounts is a result of the sizable informal channels of money transfer which make the amounts harder to track. For example, many people simply carry money with them on visits home. This results in the fact that remittances from the HDC may be underestimated by as much as 50%. Regardless of the exact number, it is clear that the HDC is a leader in “people to people‟ assistance. However, the large sums transferred do not yet have their full economic impact as they are primarily used towards consumption. We are in the camp of those who see a tremendous opportunity to re-direct some of these flows towards investment and economic development.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Builders of Haiti ™ project is a market-based innovation that aims to unlock the job creation potential of remittances by connecting local Haitian entrepreneurs with the HDC and to global markets. It is a mechanism of converting Diaspora philanthropy into investment. The idea is simple: a group of 10 people are organized into a partnership and each commit $100 per month. They would raise $US12,000 per year. This is replicated under the banner of a central partnership for maximum impact. A network of 10 groups of 10 would raise $US120,000 per year (we estimate that this would make up to $100,000 per year available for investments). This is a variation on the theme successfully implemented by the Boston-based Awesome Foundation ( that brings together groups of 10 who raise $1,000 per month to donate to the implementation of an awesome idea. Under our model, The Builders of Haiti ™ chapters would be angel investor networks and take equity positions in Haitian MSMEs. Apart from the Israel Bond (in place since 1951), there is no systematic way for an individual member of a Diaspora to contribute the economic development of their country of origin. Our proposal is the only initiative that provides members of the Haitian Diaspora Community a mechanism to convert their pooled philanthropy into investment.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Draft The Builders of Haiti ™ chapter partnership agreements Form the central The Builders of Haiti ™ partnership (includes the development of a portfolio management methodology) Obtain access to the SME pipeline of the USAID-sponsored re-granting agency (to be formed in Summer 2011, see USAID RFA# 521-11-021); pursue similar partnerships with similar funders Advertise the project in Haitian Diaspora Community media in relevant centres (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, NYC, Miami and Boston) Develop a strategic partnership with local Haiti firm to provide local oversight (this will leverage the oversight the USAID sponsored re-granting agency will provide)
About You
The Build Haiti Fund
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

The Build Haiti Fund

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, SE

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Like many around the world, I was moved to donate to established charities to help those directly impacted by the recent earthquakes. Also like many, signing cheques to the Red Cross and other established charities felt empty. I visited my parents’ birth country of Haiti for the first time in March 2008. This made the whole thing more personal. While I was able to confirm that all those I met during my visit survived, I felt the urge to do more.

I decided to set up a fund out of concern that media attention would fade once the search and rescue phase of the response was complete. We worried that people whose lives were saved, especially in remote areas, would still have little to live for when their rescuers moved on.

We’ve seen this pattern before. In September 2004, a hurricane hit the northern Haitian city of Gonaïves and resulted in over 3,000 deaths and over 200,000 people displaced. At the time of the earthquakes earlier this year, many of these people were still in tents!

The Build Haiti Fund:

* Follows the lead of the communities we seek to help and respecting Haiti’s sovereignty and work within its laws and customs.

* Promotes community self-sufficiency in matters of finance, energy and environment.

* Is transparent, accountable and collaborative.

* Chooses projects whose social and financial impacts can be measured.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

Progress will be measured against the following:

* The quality of our strategic partnerships

* Our ability to set up the chapters (minimum 10)

* Access to quality MSME pipelines (partnering with USAID sponsored re-granting agency (USAID RFA# 521-11-021) and similar funders)

* The performance of the MSME we invest in (including revenue growth, job creation and access to new markets)

How many people have been impacted by your project?

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101- 1,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Provide progress reports to the partnership

Add more The Builders of Haiti ™ chapters

Diversify the MSMEs pipeline for potential investment targets from USAID-sponsored re-granting agency to other funders (i.e., the Clinton Foundation, Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Canadian International Development Agency)

Deepen relationships with local Haitian business community

Identify and exploit opportunities to work with the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The main barriers to success are 1. raising insufficient funds, 2. an inability to identify quality investment opportunities and 3. insufficient local oversight.

Mitigation Strategies:
1. Promoting The Builders of Haiti ™ project within the Haitian Diaspora Community to ensure that we obtain at least 10 chapters within the first 12 months. This would be marketed as pooled philanthropy with the potential for job creation through direct investments in Haitian MSMEs. This will generate measurable social and financial returns for partners.

10 chapters would generate up to $US100,000 per year available for investments. This is sufficient to develop a balanced portfolio of companies.

2. Quality investment opportunities will be sourced by tapping into the USAID sponsored re-granting agency pipeline. They will be mandated to use a business plan competition model to identify companies. This approach would be gradually expanded to include other funders to leverage their due diligence and generate maximum returns for chapter members due to the non-dilutive nature of the public/foundation investments.

3. Local oversight would be conducted by a local partner with a mandate to leverage the local oversight provided by USAID and other funders. It will be complemented with periodic visits from the central office.

Tell us about your partnerships

Our relationships include Diaspora organizations like La Maison d'Haiti de Toronto and Haiti Ventures (Boston) and Haiti-based organizations like Fonkoze. Other key partners include funders for entrepreneurship like USAID and the Clinton Foundation.

Ultimately, our twin engines for growth will be our network of chapters over North America and the MSMEs in which we invest.

Explain your selections

Since its creation in February 2010, The Build Haiti Fund has received individual donations. The proposed Builders of Haiti ™ project would also depend on funding from individuals.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

By adding more The Builders of Haiti ™ chapters, diversifying the MSMEs pipeline for potential investment targets and deepening our relationships with the local Haitian business community.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Lack of visibility and investment




Restricted access to new markets

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Our proposal converts the pooled philanthropy of remittances into investment to support sustainable job creation. By providing capital to quality MSMEs, the project will support employment and access to domestic and international markets that make these jobs sustainable.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.




Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.
Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

This project is a partnership between members of the Haitian Diaspora Community, funders like USAID (RFA# 521-11-021) and Haitian MSMEs. We also hope to partner with the Haitian government through its Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad.