Virgin Records founder Richard Branson announced Thursday his collaboration with the Clinton Foundation and Yunus Social Business Global Initiatives (YSB) on Haiti Forest, a reforesting iniative designed to replenish Haiti’s woodlands. Although 70 percent of the population relies on agriculture as a source of income, about 98 percent of the country’s land has been deforested.
Haiti Forest aims to plant over a million trees each year, including reforesting 1,000 hectares around the town St Michel d’Attalaye. The initiative is expected to improve the lives of nearly 4,500 farmers as well as create 200 additional jobs outside the farming industry, Branson said in a blog post. “In total the economic impact is estimated to be over $4 million yearly revenue across the whole ecosystem.”
“This is a true team effort. It’s a really exciting model and there are already some great businesses demonstrating it at work.” Branson highlighted Haitian-owned beauty business, Kreyol Essence, who committed to planting over 40,000 castor oil plants and creating 300 jobs over the next three years. “Yve-Car’s [Momperousse] success is success for Haiti and her people too,” he said of the Kreyol Essence founder.
Rather than taking a charity-based approach to finding supporters of Haiti Forest, Branson is taking a “business-based” approach to ensure the project’s sustainability. A lack of forests is a “very real problem,” Branson said. “By linking trees with grassroots entrepreneurs we can break the deforestation cycle and develop Haiti’s struggling economy.”