Haiti: Open for Social Business!

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Professor Muhammad Yunus Declare Haiti “Open for Social Business”

Existing social businesses having an impact on alleviating poverty in Haiti; Social Business model boosted by an additional investment from SAP AG

October 16, 2012PORT-AU-PRINCE – Yunus Social Business (YSB) Haiti concluded its 2012 Social Business Conference this weekend, on the topic of “Eradicating Poverty in Haiti through Social Business.”

More than 250 social business, academic, corporate, developmental and government experts attended the conference, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who declared Haiti “open for social business” and linked the model to Haiti’s economic independence.

“The Haitian government’s battle is one of fighting extreme poverty, illiteracy, social exclusion and unemployment,” said Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. “Haiti is proud to partner with Professor Yunus and his social business model to address the challenges of growing the Haitian economy but to the benefit of the most vulnerable of society. We value Professor Yunus’ ‘social business approach’ as it perfectly fits the Haitian government’s own philosophy which is one of encouraging the emergence of small social businesses throughout the country as an engine for social and economic change.”

A social business is a non-dividend company, created to solve a social problem such as poverty, which recycles profits back into the company for growth, innovation or to seed new social business ventures. Started in Bangladesh, the social business model is supported by investments from multinational corporations, foundations and individuals. Yunus Social Business Fund through its investors provides loans, equity and incubator services to social businesses.

Conference attendees discussed the need to make social business a core component of the Haitian economy. To date, YSB has supported six social businesses, including two poultry farms and a poultry processing plant; a jatropha plant plantation which will produce biofuel; a bakery; and a business skills training center for young Haitians. Initial investments in each of these social businesses range from $80,000 to $500,000 (USD).

“Haiti has been known for its failures in the past, and it’s time for Haiti to be known for its successes,” said Professor Yunus. “With a population of 10 million, the impact of social business in Haiti can be enormous. The success of social business in Haiti can become a model for the rest of the world.”

YSB Fund has raised $3 million from investors, including a new investment of $650,000 from founding partner SAP AG. Other investors include Artists for Haiti founded by actor Ben Stiller and the USAID-funded Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) program of the Pan American Development Foundation.

Representatives from Brazilian food corporation BR Foods and Costa Rican beverage company Florida Ice & Farm were also present at the conference to discuss possibilities of implementing social businesses in Haiti. The two companies are already implementing social business in their own countries.

Following the conference, Professor Yunus and YSB Haiti launched a nationwide social business ideas competition at an event attended by more than 500 students from 17 Haitian universities, held at L’Université d’ Etat d’ Haiti / Faculté des Sciences in Port-au-Prince. The goal of the competition is to engage Haiti’s youth in crafting innovative, business-oriented solutions to rebuild the country’s economy.

About Yunus Social Business Haiti S.A. and La Fondation Yunus Social Business Fund Haiti

The Yunus Social Business Haiti Initiative consists of two parts: an incubator that promotes the idea of social business, identifies and coaches social business entrepreneurs as well as a fund that conducts due diligence and invests loans and equity into social businesses.

About Yunus Social Business GmbH (Global Initiatives)

Yunus Social Business GmbH (YSB) helps create social businesses around the world. YSB was founded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, Saskia Bruysten, Sophie Eisenmann and Hans Reitz. It runs as a social business itself by setting up incubator funds and providing advisory services to companies, governments, foundations and NGOs.

NewsIT YSBComment