Success Stories

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Haiti

PADF Renews Commitment to Gender Parity on International Women’s Day

  • PADF Stands with International Women’s Day’s Pledge for Parity 2016
  • USAID-funded program has invested in12 women-led businesses out of a portfolio of 32 Haitian enterprises
  • LEAD-supported businesses have created more than 9,000 direct and indirect jobs in Haiti, 48 percent of which are held by women

Washington, D.C., March 7, 2016 –Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) program attracts investments in Haitian commercial enterprises, particularly those with potential for growth, income generation and job creation. First launched in July 2011, the LEAD project works to increase the developmental impact of remittances invested in community-level social enterprises. It also seeks to further the role of women in the economy by providing technical assistance and funding to select women-run businesses in Haiti.

“This year’s International Women’s Day’s theme is Pledge for Parity, which aims to increase gender parity around the world by encouraging people to take concrete steps in that direction. PADF strongly believes that empowering women and girls is key to lessening the income inequality in Latin America and improving quality of life,” said Nadia Cherrouk, Country Director for PADF Haiti .

To date, the LEAD program has funded 11 women-owned or women-led businesses from a total of 32 funded enterprises and leveraged over $10 million in private capital. These businesses have created more than 9,000 direct and indirect jobs, of which 48 percent are held by women, across the Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, and Cap-Haitian areas.

Vionise Fortuna

Vionise Fortuna

Vionise Fortuna, 28, lives in Martissant, Haiti. She got a job with LEAD subgrantee SWITCH, which manufactures gas stoves. “I always dreamed of working in a traditionally male profession,” she says. “I thought, if they can do it, I can do it too.”

PADF takes a nuanced approach to combating inequality, assisting communities through targeted support to girls and women who face numerous challenges, including impediments to education, employment and social inclusion. PADF works throughout the region to combat these disparities and empower women to succeed. Though overall poverty rates in the region have decreased dramatically in recent years, women are often excluded from economic prosperity. This is one of the issues the LEAD program seeks to resolve, and one of the ways PADF stands with International Women’s Day in its Pledge for Parity this year. 

The Pan American Development Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, 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. Established by the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1962, PADF has worked in every country in the region. In 2014, PADF reached more than 15 million people by investing over $92 million in development resources in 27 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

*The contents are the responsibility of PADF and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

U.S. Ambassador Visits LEAD Grantee Glory Industries

This week, U.S. Ambassador Peter Mulrean and USAID Mission Director Jene Thomas got a closer look at how small businesses are having a big impact on Haiti’s economy. They visited Glory Industries, a Haitian business that manufactures sanitary products such as napkins, paper towels, tissues and toilet paper in Port-au-Prince. Deputy Chief of Mission Brian Shukan, USAID Haiti EGAD director Michael Wyzan and PADF Country Director Nadia Cherrouk also joined the tour.

Glory Industries received technical assistance and a grant of $200,000 through the USAID-fundedLEAD program (Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments) with a contribution of $1.8 million in matching capital. The company began operations in July 2015 and already employs 90 people, most of them women. Projected revenue for this year is more than $2 million dollars.

The company is led Myrtha Vilbon, a dynamic female entrepreneur with more than three decades of business experience. She decided to start a local factory to compete with foreign imports.

Following strict safety standards on the tour, the group observed how bales of paper are formed into long rolls, cut to size and packaged. Vilbon also pointed out the handicap access ramp and told visitors about Glory’s efforts to recruit disabled workers.

“Her passion and dedication to the success of the project was obvious throughout the visit,” said Cherrouk, adding that the delegation was very pleased with their visit and noted that projects like LEAD and enterprises like Glory are great contributors to Haiti’s growth.  

"I feel like I accomplished a duty,” Vilbon told PADF at the LEAD Expo last year. “As an entrepreneur, I help to improve the economy through the creation employment in my country and the reduction of our near total dependence on imports.”