Doing business with Haiti can generate big returns for Irish business, as well as helping the Caribbean nation’s efforts to develop by attracting foreign direct investment, a high- powered business forum was told in Dublin.
‘Opportunities in Haiti Forum’, hosted by AIB yesterday, was organised by non-governmental organisation Haven as part of its Haiti Week series of events to raise money for projects in the country.
At the investment forum, however, the focus was on trade rather than aid.
Around 40 Irish and Haitian entrepreneurs and agency staff discussed opportunities for two-way trade in everything from coffee beans and low-cost housing to the pub trade.
Haven founder Leslie Buckley, who is the chairman of Independent News & Media, which owns the Irish Independent, and Elizabeth Headon, an Irish citizen who is an adviser to the government of Haiti, were among the speakers.
So, too, was Lionel Pressior, winner of Haiti’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 for his tourism business that aims to attracts foreign tourists to the country’s historic forts and beaches.
The charismatic Haitian businessman regaled the audience with anecdotes, including explaining his elderly aunt’s fear for his safety when she heard he was travelling to Ireland, because of rioting in Belfast.
“We need to create employment so that Haitians can help themselves,” he told the mainly Irish audience.
Businessman Dave McKernan outlined his success at importing high-quality coffee beans sourced from Haiti for his Java Republic business.
“There is a need for everything in Haiti, but everything can be done there,” said Conor de Barra, who managed the launch of Haiti’s first Irish pub.
– Donal O’Donovan