LEAD Quarterly Newsletter

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LEAD Entrepreneurs Boost Local Construction

In Haiti, infrastructure projects are among the country's top employers. But when it comes to acquiring material, an estimated $71 million is shipped overseas for foreign material imports.

Two LEAD enterprises offer high quality construction of disaster-resistant schools, hospitals, and homes, and they're making waves in the Haitian economy. Combined, they have employed over 1,000 people and generated over $5 million in sales by making smart investments with LEAD funding.

See how they're becoming the leaders in Haitian construction:

Read More

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LEAD Sales

Lifetime LEAD sales reached a total of $30,632,629 at the end of this quarter.


Over the program's lifetime, LEAD has produced 14,032 jobs.

More about LEAD

LEAD Expo: Celebrating Business Growth

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You are the leaders of Haiti’s new economy,"

said Brian Shukan, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. "The LEAD project’s investment in these innovative entrepreneurs has unlocked millions in private capital. As their businesses grow, we anticipate that they will continue to attract financing from banks and equity investors, driving further economic development."


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The LEAD expo was a great success, as participating entrepreneurs were able to show their work and connect with other entrepreneurs.


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Glory Industries displays their products at the LEAD expo.


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PISA, a cacao processor, displays their products at the expo.

The Diaspora Challenge Initiative Luncheon

The Haitian Diaspora is a critical partner in Haiti’s development, ranging from the $2 billion/yr remittance flows to sector expertise and markets for products. The Diaspora Challenge Initiative was an activity that sought the best developments from the diaspora population. LEAD organized a luncheon to connect the winners of the Diaspora Challenge Initiative with key Haitian counterparts such as politician Jerry Tardieu, and institutional partners like USAID, Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank.

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Attendees met with government officials and other major players. Read in Le Nouvelliste.

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Read more about the LEAD program.

About the LEAD Program

The Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) program, which began in 2011, is a $17 million project funded by USAID and implemented by PADF.  The LEAD program works in two main areas – supporting Small & Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promoting impactful diaspora investment in Haiti. To date, LEAD has provided matching grant capital and delivered firm-level enterprise support to 46 SMEs in the Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc and Cap-Haitian corridors. LEAD has also worked with multiple diaspora entrepreneurs and diaspora groups to increase the development impact of remittances and investments.

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MSF will expand Care Center for Severe Burns using the services of Veerhouse Voda

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will expand its Care Center for Severe Burns (located in Drouillard, Port-au-Prince). This expansion will include 4 new buildings with an area of 1,621 m2. The plan will include an ambulatory service, isolation rooms, an intensive care unit and complete hospital facilities, making it the first of its kind in Haiti. Remember that the MSF Care Center for Severe Burns treats a large number of severe burns resulting from exposure to flames, burning liquids, handling of obsolete gas cylinders or electric shocks, which are part of everyday life in Haiti.

For the second time, MSF will appeal to Veerhouse Voda Haiti, a company that designs disaster-resistant housing, emergency structures and community spaces. The work is expected to be completed in 275 days as Veerhouse Voda's exclusive methods allow construction to be completed five times faster than traditional methods. Thanks to the use of the EPS foam manufactured by the local factory, the structure will be built at a lower cost and in accordance with Eurocodes standards.

"We are pleased to help MSF improve its Care Center for Severe Burns [...] This facility will be built with faster technology than traditional structures and will have the added benefit of reducing energy consumption," said Brendon Brewster of Veerhouse Voda.

Learn more about Veerhouse Voda :
Founded in 2012, Veerhouse Voda Haiti is located in Port-au-Prince, and also has offices in New York and the Netherlands. The company specializes in the design and construction of economic and disaster-resistant buildings and residences. The company offers a versatile alternative method using less materials, preferring expanded polystyrene, consuming less energy and offering shorter construction times than traditional methods. This construction system is used in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas to build schools, individual dwellings, offices, hospitals, commercial buildings, etc...

Beyond Microfinance: Empowering Women in the Developing World

PADF was pleased to participate in a hearing organized by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs called “Beyond Microfinance: Empowering Women in the Developing World.” The issue around equitable access to financial services are an integral component of the LEAD project. Via LEAD we support 20 out of 45 women-owned or operated enterprises. So we were curious to learn about the current trends and thought leadership on this topic. 

On July 13th, 2017, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a hearing entitled “Beyond Microfinance: Empowering Women in the Developing World” during which a panel of experts in the field of financial inclusion advocated for the economic empowerment of women worldwide. The witnesses called to testify before the Committee brought to the panel extensive professional experience in gender issues and development: Ms. Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking; Dr. Tavneet Suri, Professor of Economics at MIT; and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Each spoke to their specific area of expertise, but all three emphasized the drawbacks and limitations of microfinance—a financial mechanism once hailed as the silver bullet of development. The three panelists highlighted the findings of seven separate studies each demonstrating that indebting the world’s poorest does not, in fact, lead to long-term, sustainable economic prosperity. Like anyone else, the recipients of microfinance loans have complex financial needs that necessitate multiple financial instruments for savings, insurance, and credit, among other things.

Repeatedly mentioned as an alternative to microfinance was mobile money, a strategy that has begun revolutionizing the landscape of financial transactions across the developed and developing worlds alike. Programs that can send funds directly through a text message (like PayPal, but for basic, non-smartphones) create greater financial security through interactions within one’s own social network. For example, the mother of a child who has fallen ill can request money from relatives virtually, rather than cut back on basic necessities or pull her other children out of school to help work to fund the medical care. This method, unlike microfinance, is especially empowering and financially stabilizing for women. Though mobile money as a development strategy is a promising prospect, more research and evaluation is needed to fully understand its implications and effectiveness.

Apart from the technical financial mechanisms discussed, the witnesses underscored the importance and value of incorporating women into the financial world. Women prioritize the family in financial spending: they spend 34% more than men on education, health, and other needs that improve the wellbeing of their children and their household. As such, solidifying a stable financial foundation for women can catalyze positive development across the spectrum, fostering greater stability within families and communities which, in turn, produces more peaceful and prosperous societies.

Press Release | LEAD Expo & Awards Ceremony

Port-au-Prince, Haiti — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) celebrated the success of dozens Haitian entrepreneurs supported by the LEAD program at a large exposition at the Karibe Hotel on June 8, 2017.  Through the LEAD program (Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments), USAID has provided 45 Haitian and diaspora-led entrepreneurs with the capital and technical support needed to grow their business. Implemented by the PADF, the program supports long-term economic growth in the region.

Each company was awarded a grant after successfully completing a business plan competition. Together, these enterprises have created more than 13,600 jobs in Haiti and are on track to create a total of 18,000 jobs by the end of the year.

“We congratulate the entrepreneurs here today,” said Brian Shukan, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. “You are the leaders of Haiti’s new economy. The LEAD project’s investment in these innovative entrepreneurs has unlocked millions in private capital. As their businesses grow, we anticipate that they will continue to attract financing from banks and equity investors, driving further economic development.”

Since 2011, USAID has invested $7.4 million in businesses in various sectors of the Haitian economy, unlocking $12.7 million in private capital. LEAD has also delivered more than 10,000 hours of training to entrepreneurs to build their capacity and improve business operations. Together, LEAD supported businesses— from the sanitary paper production plant to the solid waste processing plant, have generated nearly $ 28 million in sales.

“It’s inspiring to be in a room with so many dynamic and creative Haitian entrepreneurs,” says Nadia Cherrouk, PADF country director. “Their businesses are a testament to what can be achieved through hard work and persistence. Through LEAD, we are helping Haitians realize their business goals and creating a network of innovators. These entrepreneurs are paving the way to a more prosperous Haiti.”

The event included a business-to-business networking session to help the entrepreneurs forge important relationships with financial institutions, service providers and sector experts. 

About LEAD

USAID’s Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) project aims to attract investments in Haitian SMEs and increase the development impact of remittances. LEAD operates in the following three development corridors: Cap-Haïtien, Saint-Marc, and Port-au-Prince. The project is implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). Since 2011, LEAD has awarded grants ranging from USD$50,000 to $200,000 to 45 small- and medium-sized Haitian enterprises, allowing them to expand their operations and increase employment. www.leadinvestments.info 


The American people, through USAID, have been working around the world for over fifty years in humanitarian assistance and economic growth. For more information about USAID programs in Haiti, visit our website: www.usaid.gov/haiti 

About PADF

PADF is a nonprofit organization that brings together many stakeholders to improve livelihoods, empower communities, strengthen civil society, support human rights, protect the environment and respond to natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. www.padf.org