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Why Invest in Haiti

The devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti caused significant damage to the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and resulted in fiscal losses roughly equal to the country’s GDP. In response, the international community has rushed to Haiti’s support and pledged approximately US$10 billion for reconstruction projects. As Haiti’s economy steadily begins to improve, great opportunity exist to provide much needed capital, financial expertise and strategic support to SMEs in the country.

Haiti is now poised for growth. Haiti has a free-market economy with low-cost labor, a pro-business government, and capital demands that will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The Haitian government, with the help of the international community, is attempting to create more jobs for its young workforce (the average age in Haiti is 21.4 years) by making it easier for foreign entities to invest in Haiti.

Furthermore, Haiti is well positioned to prosper in the coming years due in part to its proximity to the United States (its primary trading partner), the vast support from the international community, and its motivated and eager low-cost workforce. Haiti’s key strategic advantages are outlined below.

  • Pro-business government
    • President Michel Martelly is considered pro-business
    • Martelly has pledged to create over 500,000 jobs in the next three years
    • Haiti’s government has begun to streamline steps to start a business and loosen curbs on foreign ownership of land
  • Broad International Support
    • Over US$10 billion of foreign assistance has been pledged to help rebuild the country
    • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) offered over US$2.2 billion alone for recovery and development projects
    • Over 3000 non-government organizations (NGOs) are operating in Haiti providing much needed support services
    • United States HOPE and HELP Acts will help rebuild Haiti’s diminished garment industry
  • Strategic Location
    • Located between the world’s largest economy (USA) and emerging economies in South America (Brazil and Colombia), Haiti is well-positioned to benefit from economic growth throughout the region
    • Situated within the Caribbean provides the country with prime access to maritime trade
  • Promising Economic Signals
    • Free-market economy
    • Projected 7.8% GDP growth in 2012
    • Economic stimulus from billions in foreign assistance
  • Increasing trade integration
    • Introduction of Special Economic Zones provide exemptions on tariffs and taxes
    • Close proximity to large economies ensures lower costs for transporting goods to international markets
    • WTO member since 1996
  • Untapped Resource Potential
    • Copious, untapped mineral deposits of bauxite, copper, gold and calcium carbonate
    • Young, low-cost labor – median age is 21 years
  • Advantageous Labor Conditions
    • It has one of the world’s lowest-cost workforce
    • Abundance of hard-working, trainable workers
  • Geography
    • World-class pristine beaches and 1,700km (1,100 miles) of coastline
    • Natural sea ports at Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien, Gonaives, and Jacmel

The Role of Private Equity

Financing options for businesses in Haiti are severely limited. High interest rates and collateral requirements make attaining a loan nearly impossible for many Haitian businesses. In many instances, private equity provides the only viable financing tool for many Haitian businesses seeking capital. In addition to much-needed capital, private equity firms can provide these businesses with governance, oversight, and management expertise, all while attracting local and regional investment partners. As Haiti’s only private equity fund, Leopard can easily access some of the country’s best investment opportunities in a relatively non-competitive environment. Given this opportunity, Leopard intends to seek out and partner with fundamentally sound Haitian businesses to build regionally competitive companies.

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