Haiti Hope: Reflecting on a Fruitful Partnership

Partners gather to celebrate the successes of the Haiti Hope Project and reflect on the power of public-private partnerships as a vehicle for development.

From left: USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, TechnoServe CEO William Warshauer, and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno.

In January 2010, only two weeks after a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck Haiti, a conversation between several leaders at the World Economic Forum sparked an innovative public-private partnership that would create sustainable economic opportunities for thousands of Haitian families.

That day, Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Bruce McNamer, former president and CEO of TechnoServe, discussed what could be done beyond initial relief efforts to support the long-term development and revitalization of Haiti’s agricultural sector. Joining forces with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners, TechnoServe, Coca-Cola and IDB launched the Haiti Hope Project to boost the incomes of 25,000 Haitian farmers.

Yesterday, that partnership culminated in an event held at IDB to celebrate the successes and reflect on the lessons of Haiti Hope.

Luis Moreno moderated a panel with Muhtar Kent, USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, and TechnoServe President and CEO William Warshauer. The partners lauded the project’s many achievements, particularly in the face of challenges. Over five years, the project:

  • trained 25,125 farmers in production, post-harvest and marketing best practices;
  • established and worked with 262 Producer Business Groups (PBGs) to sell directly to exporters, with 94 percent of the groups earning a profit in 2015, while seasonally employing more than 2,800 community members;
  • promoted gender equality, with women participating in all parts of the mango value chain and comprising 46 percent of farmers trained and nearly 40 percent of PBG leadership positions;
  • grew the export volumes of Fair Trade and Organic certified mangoes by 315 percent to 614 metric tons in 2010; and
  • planted more than 60,000 mango trees, and grafting an additional 65,000, for a more productive future.

The sustainability and growth of this impact is a central focus for all the partners as the project comes to an end. Muhtar Kent stressed the importance of ensuring that “the project is priming the pump, but then the pump has to run itself, because there is a business proposition that is attached to it.”

“This is not philanthropy,” Kent said. “This is bringing the expertise of great partners to life, connecting it to business needs, with the needs of the community.”

William Warshauer echoed Gayle Smith and others in praising Haiti Hope as a potential model for future projects with similar business and social goals. “Progressive businesses like Coca-Cola are working on creative business models that are making sustainable sourcing from smallholder farmers make sense,” said William. “I don’t think we are anywhere near the limits of what is possible.”