Diaspora Challenge Initiative

The Diaspora Challenge Initiative announced its 10 winners at a Symposium
on Jan 21, 2017 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The winners are:

Emmanuel Ronald Bertrand
City/ Country: Georgia, USA
Project: Education
A mentorship program with Haiti’s graduating college students to support the municipalities (local mayors).

Steve Chérestal and Didier Jean-Baptiste
City/Country: Florida and Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Project: Microfinance
A web platform to provide nano loans and to serve as a virtual marketplace through harnessing

Jean Conille
City/Country: Dominican Republic
Project: Environment
Ecologically-friendly gas stations for public transport vehicles (tap-taps). Empower drivers to convert diesel vehicles to propane

Michel Degraff
Cambridge, MA, USA
Project: Countrywide Education
Promoting STEM education in Haiti through technology and the Kreyol language

Scheeler Devis
City/Country: New York, USA
Project: Agro-industry
A distillery to produce alcohol, green charcoal and purified drinking water

Paul Obed Dumersaint
City/Country: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Project: Agriculture, Energy, Environment
Merging agriculture, energy and the environment using biotech and promoting cutting edge research in Haiti.

Nedjeda Jean-Paul
City/Country: Quebec, Canada
Project: Healthcare
Creation of a medical test laboratory

Marc Raphaël
City/Country: California, USA
Project: Solar Energy
A chain of affordable, solar-powered food trucks that double as Internet hotspots

Wisblaude Thermidor and Beverly Malbranche
City/Country: New Haven, CT, USA
Project: Fair Trade Development
A sustainable way to eradicate food insecurity in Haiti

Marcel Wah
City/ Country: Chisinau, Moldova, and Plainsboro, NJ
Project: Agriculture:
Bee farming to generate income from bee-related products and reverse pollinator decline

For full profiles of winning ideas, visit the Diaspora Challenge Initiative website

Engaging the Haitian Diaspora

LEAD has expanded and intensified its Diaspora outreach program by working with key implementation partners such as the Haitian Hometown Association Resource Group (HHTARG) and the Haiti Renewal Alliance (HRA). In the past years, LEAD organized four roadshow events in the United States, as well as sponsored two Investment Expos (in Port-au-Prince and Washington D.C.). The outreach efforts continue with the launch of the 2014 Haitian Diaspora Investment and Engagement Research Program. You can read more about this new program here.


"Today, more than 62 million Americans—a full fifth of the nation—are first or second generation diasporans."

Presented by a recent USAID report, this statistic exposes the potential of diaspora engagement in the United States. Although they may live far away, much of the diaspora population is still closely connected to their country of origin.

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The report, released by the U.S. Global Development Lab, highlights several successful engagements of diaspora populations. Funded by USAID, our Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) program is featured for rallying the Haitian diaspora in the United States to support Haitian businesses.

The LEAD program has demonstrated a successful model for developing small- to medium-size enterprises in Haiti. Read more about the LEAD program.

Diaspora and the Business Plan Competition

Out of a total of 272 applicants to the LEAD Business Plan Competition, 34% are Haitian Diaspora. 9 of the 31 winning enterprises are from the Diaspora. These Diaspora projects are in diverse sectors and in both Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitian. Combined, these projects are valued at over $3.85M.