04.14.10

Leahy, Lugar Call for Haitian-American Enterprise Fund

(WEDNESDAY, April 14) -- U.S. Sens. Dick Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have introduced legislation to establish a “Haitian-American Enterprise Fund” to focus on strengthening the private sector in post-earthquake Haiti. The legislation will help to empower the private sector to create jobs and sustainable revenue streams that will ensure Haiti’s progress long after foreign assistance diminishes.

The Fund is modeled after successful post-Cold War funds established 20 years ago and supported by the senators.

“The billions pledged by the United States Government and the international community demonstrates our strong commitment to rebuild Haiti, but the country must take immediate steps to achieve self-sufficiency. The enterprise funds created in the 1990s for Poland, Hungary and other European countries helped create robust economies fueled by a strong private sector,” Lugar said. “The Americans and Haitians appointed to lead this Fund will have the experience required to realize similar success. Haitian-Americans are counted among leaders of industry, academia as well as civil society, and this legislation will help to leverage their skills to the benefit of their ancestral homeland,” Lugar concluded.

“I am pleased to join with my good friend Dick Lugar on this targeted effort to spur private investment in Haiti,” Leahy said.  “The American people have already generously donated millions of dollars in aid, and we will continue to help.  But Haiti’s economic future depends far more on the development of a vibrant private sector, and this fund can be the catalyst for unleashing Haiti’s entrepreneurial potential.” 

The Lugar-Leahy legislation will:

1. Create a Haitian-American Enterprise Fund of $100 million to promote the Haitian private sector, including small businesses, the agricultural sector, and joint ventures with United States and host country participants; and to promote policies and practices conducive to the private sector in Haiti through loans, grants, equity investments, feasibility studies, technical assistance, training, insurance, guarantees, and other measures;

2. Establish a Board of Directors comprised of Americans and Haitian nationals who have demonstrated experience and expertise in those areas of private sector development in which the Haitian-American Enterprise Fund is involved; and

3. Liquidate the assets and dissolve the Fund by 2020, unless the USAID Administrator determines there are reasons to extend its existence and to transfer reflows from successful investments to a United States-Haiti legacy foundation.  

Twenty years ago, the Polish-American Enterprise Fund was created by a grant of $240 million for the purpose of providing economic capital to small and medium sized companies. The recently liquidated Polish Fund produced net proceeds of some $370 million. Of this, $120 million was returned to the U.S. Government and the balance contributed to the creation of the Polish Freedom Foundation, which supports educational and civil society initiatives in rural Poland. Similar funds were created in Albania, Hungary, Russia, and the Baltic States – with each experiencing considerable success. 

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