WASHINGTON, D.C.—A delegation, convened and hosted by the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), CHF International, Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA), and Executives Without Borders, met last week with leaders from the Haitian government and leading NGOs during a trip to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Delegation officials from American companies worked to gain a better understanding of the Haitian leadership’s redevelopment priorities and sought to engage in long-term recovery activities such as in-country relationship building and international volunteerism.
"Being on-the-ground in Haiti allowed U.S. business leaders a firsthand look at the needs of the Haitian people and the opportunities available to help in the country’s reconstruction," said U.S. Chamber BCLC Global Corporate Citizenship Manager Taryn Bird. "Yet the challenges posed to American businesses operating in Haiti remain immense. Our delegation benefited from briefings by Haitian business, government, and community leaders while touring businesses, shelters, and retail training facilities."
The Haitian government has identified five key areas for redevelopment and foreign investment: agriculture, artisans and crafts, construction, the garment industry, and tourism. The trip allowed for the analysis and activation of corporate resources to better align with the local needs and priorities.
Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, Dow Chemical Company, FedEx, the Harvard Business School, Pfizer, and Timberland all sent officials to Haiti as part of the invitation-only delegation.
"I quickly saw the need for on-the-ground coordination that will be required for effective rebuilding in Haiti," said FedEx Global Citizenship Program Advisor Shane O’Connor. "An important next step is for corporate America to gain familiarity with operating in-country. Through cultural and situational understanding, trust-building, and long-term relationships with NGOs working in Haiti, FedEx and other companies can leverage their expertise and be a significant force for good."
As a result of the trip to Haiti, BCLC, AACCLA, CHF International, and Executives Without Borders will work diligently in coming months – and years – to effectively pair local needs with companies wanting to engage in reconstruction and redevelopment.
"Even in an emergency situation, our many decades of development experience have taught us at CHF International to consider long-term development from the earliest possible moment. An essential part of that sustainable approach is private sector investment. Since 2006 we have been undertaking the largest USAID-funded job and infrastructure creation program in Haiti and through this program we have been working closely with the Haitian and international private sector. Bringing new corporations to experience the country and meet with decision makers and key stakeholders to help match community and commercial needs is an important part of our mission," said Michel Holsten, CHF International Vice President for Business Development.
For more information, including first-hand accounts, visit BCLCblog.
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The Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), a 501(c)(3) affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a resource and voice for business’ social and philanthropic interests. BCLC’s Global Corporate Citizenship Program facilitates effective private-sector engagement in international development. Under its Disaster Assistance and Recovery Program, BCLC tracked corporate donations to the immediate response process after the Haitian Earthquake. Corporate donations exceeded $147 million. Visit www.uschamber.com/bclc.
About CHF International
CHF International is an international development organization founded in 1952 that works in post-conflict, unstable and developing countries. We partner with communities around the world to help them to improve and direct their lives and livelihoods. We believe that the people best suited to decide what a community needs are the people of the community itself. CHF is a politically neutral, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Visit www.chfinternational.org.
About Executives Without Borders
Executives Without Borders serves as the critical link between experienced individuals eager to serve the global community and humanitarian projects around the world. ExecWB recruits experienced business leaders who volunteer for service and place them around the world to execute projects directed at improving the quality of life.