LEAD Frequently Asked Questions


What is LEAD?

LEAD (Leveraging Effective Applications of Direct Investments) is a USAID Haiti program implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF).

LEAD has two main objectives:

  • Support small and medium-sized enterprises that are based in Haiti with capital and technical assistance; and
  • Promote impactful diaspora remittances in Haiti.

The 4 year project was launched on July 28, 2011 and will end on July 27, 2015.

What does LEAD do?

In order to achieve its objectives, LEAD has the following key activities.

  • Business Plan Competition – LEAD ran the Business Plan Competition (or BPC) from May 2012 to December 2013 and 34 enterprises have been selected through competitive process. Overall, LEAD has allocated $5.5M in support to small and medium enterprises through this process.
  • Technical Assistance – To help these enterprises implement their projects and improve the overall capacity of the SME sector in Haiti, LEAD and its partners provide ongoing technical assistance. This can be via direct, firm-level support, group trainings, or industry-wide roundtables, workshops, and conferences.
  • Diaspora Activities – LEAD works with key Diaspora groups in the United States to inform Diaspora entrepreneurs about investment opportunities in SMEs in Haiti through the BPC and other venues such as road shows and information sessions.  From now on to July, 2015, the Diaspora activities will focus on identifying and promoting remittance-based models to support productive investments in local SMEs. The LEAD roadshows are part of an initiative called the Diaspora Investment and Engagement Research Program, that is a collaborative effort between HHTARG, the MHAVE (Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad), the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as local communities and businesses in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Miami. The Diaspora Investment and Engagement Research Program seeks to generate new understanding about Diaspora investment opportunities via a survey, one-on-one interviews, and the roadshows. The results of the program will assist policymakers, NGOs, diaspora entrepreneurs and researchers to further integrate Haitian voices within development conversations.

Where does LEAD work?

LEAD operates in 3 development corridors in Haiti (Port-au-Prince, Saint-Marc, and Cap-Haitian). The Port-au-Prince Corridor is located in and just to the north of Port-au-Prince, extending east to the Dominican Republic border and encompassing the entirety of the Cul-de-Sac watershed; the Saint-Marc Corridor is anchored by the municipality of Saint-Marc in the Department of Artibonite and continues down the west coast of Haiti encompassing the Cabaret/Saint-Marc watersheds; the Cap-Haitian Corridor includes the area around Cap-Haitian, and continues to the Haiti-Dominican border in the east and encompasses the entirety of the Limbe and Cap-Haitian watershed on the western end.

These development corridors are in line with U.S. government strategy for Haiti that calls for funding to stimulate economic activity and improve basic services delivery in these three geographic development corridors between 2011 and 2015. The objective is to support new and diverse economic opportunities outside Port-au-Prince, by focusing on investments in key sectors such as housing, energy, agriculture, health, etc. These three areas were chosen because they present a comparative advantage for growth, and stability, in order to promote decentralization.

What were the steps in the BPC?

The LEAD BPC included a competitive, rigorous, and transparent process which included the following steps:

  • Call for applications – the initial call for applications attracted 272 business plans and project proposals.
  • Internal Review – these 272 applications were screened by LEAD and the most viable and complete plans were submitted for 3rd party due diligence.
  • Independent due-diligence – the 3rd party due diligence scored enterprises on various investment-worthiness test factors such as financial strength, management capacity, market readiness etc.
  • Jury Panels – the applicants with the highest scores were asked to present their business plans to independent jury panels. These jury panels were composed of various key stakeholders such as seasoned businesspeople,   financial institutions executives, other donors’ representatives etc. Jury panels ranked applicants based on their presentations.
  • Finalists – the applicants with the best overall scores through the BPC process were selected and their business plans were submitted to USAID for final review.

I applied for the BPC and didn’t win. Now what?

LEAD’s BPC is closed, but we’re happy to provide feedback to applicants whose business plans or projects did not win. LEAD can also suggest other investment options, including financial institutions that invest in SMEs, and non-governmental agencies. Please contact us for more information on your specific application. http://www.leadinvestmentshaiti.info/contact_us/

I want to benefit from LEAD’s training sessions. How can I sign up?

LEAD organizes ongoing group trainings on various topics relevant to Haitian entrepreneurs and their staff. To get information about upcoming LEAD training activities, please sign up through our website at http://www.leadinvestmentshaiti.info/

Where can I find out about the winners of the BPC?

The LEAD BPC was an extremely competitive process. A total of 272 business plan applications were submitted of which about 40 projects will receive funding. 23 have already been selected, and the rest are in the final stages of processing. You can read all about the LEAD BPC winners at http://www.leadinvestmentshaiti.info/grantees-2/

How many Diaspora members applied to the BPC? How many won?

Of the 272 completed applications, 34% originated from the Diaspora. To date, LEAD has funded 9 Diaspora enterprises through the BPC for grants totaling over $1.5 million dollars. These diaspora enterprises have leveraged over $2.8 million dollars in Foreign Direct Investment and other matching funds such as loans, cash investments, and in-kind investments.

I want to invest in one of the winners. What can I do?

LEAD is fully committed to promoting access to capital for SMEs. For more details on how to partner with one of our sub-grantees or for general information on investment opportunities in Haiti, please contact us at http://www.leadinvestmentshaiti.info/contact_us/

Is the LEAD program a part of the US Government’s post-earthquake relief efforts?

Yes. LEAD is focused on the 3 development corridors prioritized by the US Government. LEAD promotes long-term economic development in Haiti, by promoting a vibrant private sector which can generate employment and lead to prosperity.

Following the tragic January 12, 2010, earthquake, the U.S. government (USG) has committed over $3.6 billion toward relief, recovery, and reconstruction.  Additional funds for long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts are being provided incrementally over several years. As of June 30, 2012, $2.3 billion has been provided to support our focus on long-term reconstruction activities in key development pillars identified in the five-year United States Government (USG) Haiti strategy.

I am of Haitian-descent and based in the US. How can I benefit from LEAD?

LEAD wants to engage the Diaspora in SME activities in Haiti. As a diaspora member, you can participate in LEAD activities in a number of ways including participating in roadshows, supporting a community-development project, investing in Haitian SMEs, mentoring a Haitian entrepreneur, and getting information on how to start a business in Haiti.

What are the LEAD roadshows? When and where are they being held? How do I join?

The LEAD roadshows are part of an initiative called the Diaspora Investment and Engagement Research Program, that is a collaborative effort between HHTARG, the MHAVE (Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad), the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as local communities and businesses in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Miami. The Diaspora Investment and Engagement Research Program seeks to generate new understanding about Diaspora investment opportunities via a survey, one-on-one interviews, and the roadshows. The results of the program will assist policymakers, NGOs, diaspora entrepreneurs and researchers to further integrate Haitian voices within development conversations.

This program was launched in October 2014 via a survey, followed by a webinar on October 15th, 2014. The next step in the program are the 4 roadshows which will provide participants from the Haitian Diaspora the opportunity to discuss the goals and objectives of the program and outline how they can participate and voice their opinions. The schedule for the 4 roadshows is as follows:

  • Oct 25 Chicago
  • Nov 1 Atlanta
  • Nov 1415 Boston
  • Dec 6 – Miami

For more information about the roadshows and to register, please go to http://hhtarg.org/events/

Our hometown association is interested in supporting a school/health clinic/road in a community in Haiti? How can we work with you?

LEAD will be launching a Social Development Matching Fund in the coming months. The fund is a 3:1 match for community vetted projects. Please register with us at http://www.leadinvestmentshaiti.info/ and we will send you further information on the program.

Haitian-American firms and members of the diaspora community are eager to use their expertise to help rebuild Haiti. How is USAID working with this community?

Haitian-Americans have unique skills that are instrumental in helping Haiti based on language and knowledge of the country. USAID has provided four direct awards to CEEPCO and two direct awards to PHS Group Inc., which are both Haitian-American firms. USAID would like to work with more Haitian-American organizations and has several programs that specifically aim to attract Haitian expertise and leverage support provided by the Haitian diaspora community, such as:

  • Emergency Capacity Assistance Program (ECAP) leverages the expertise of Haitian diaspora to strengthen local public institutions involved in the shelter sector to develop and implement plans to guide growth and improve urban management in Haiti, ensuring efficient use of both financial and natural resources.
  • Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) will improve access to investment capital for Haitian businesses and strengthen their business skills. The project aims to attract investments in Haitian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through a matching grants program; USAID anticipates that potential investors in Haitian SMEs will include members of the Haitian Diaspora.
  • Employment opportunities for diaspora are being created by USAID through our traditional process of posting solicitations for new awards in Haiti (www.fbo.gov and www.grants.gov). USAID highlights Haitian diaspora skill sets as appropriate for these awards.

USAID also participates in and organizes outreach events in the United States to provide information to Haitian diaspora on how to do business with USAID. These events include town halls and seminars on “How to do Business with USAID” in areas with significant Haitian diaspora populations such as Miami, New York, and New Jersey.

With so many informal businesses operating in Haiti, what is the incentive to Haitian businesses to formalize and register with the Government of Haiti?

Formally registering with the Government of Haiti not only increases a local firm’s business opportunities, but it also provides other incentives.

  • Local firms that operate in the formal sector have access to government services and bank financing as well as easier access to projects and programs offered by international donors.
  • By working in the formal sector, Haitian firms improve their chances of becoming sub-grantees for USAID projects, which could ultimately help these organizations, build their capacity to compete for direct awards.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Haiti also have the opportunity to access credit through the local financial institutions that benefit from credit guarantees through USAID’s Development Credit Agreement (DCA).

  • Guarantees under USAID’s DCA aim to boost Haiti’s economic recovery and help rebuild the private sector by strengthening local lending to SMEs in areas such as agriculture, construction, housing, garment and light manufacturing, and information and communication technology.

Loans are offered by financial institutions in the Northern Corridor, Saint-Marc Corridor, and Cul-de-Sac, complementing other USAID programs in these priority areas.