Now in its third year, the annual National Association of Haitian Professionals (NAHP) conference, “Haiti Beyond Haiti – Policies and Pathways to Effective Diaspora Engagement,” introduced a new component to the successful event that looks to focus on entrepreneurs. Inspired by ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, where aspiring business owners make presentations to a panel of potential investors, Haitian entrepreneurs will compete for business funding through the Haiti Renewal Alliance’s (HRA) “Investor’s Tank.”
“This is the first time we’re taking Investor’s Tank out of our annual business expo,” Firmin Backer, president of HRA said. Since 2009, HRA has been promoting business development and investment in Haiti through their annual Business Investment Expo & Conference. “We want to give the community the platform to share ideas on investing and growing businesses.”
For the past five years, HRA has been at the forefront of finding investment opportunities for Haitian entrepreneurs, Backer said. Many times, people don’t know where to go to for funding or who to pitch their business to. Investor’s Tank, is a solution to that.
The competition is for existing businesses or development projects looking for funding from Diaspora investors. Backer and his team selected four businesses from a pool of nine applications. The selected participants will pitch their business to a panel of six investors in exchange for equity and funding. The investors, who have capital up to $50 million, will serve as judges and determine the quality and likelihood of the pitched projects receiving funding.
To date, 16 businesses have pitched in the tank with three receiving financial support in amounts up to $500,000. Past entrepreneurs have received free business consulting services and access to resources to assist them in their investment initiatives.
“Last year’s conference at Columbia University underscored the depth and impact of energized groups in the diaspora in the United States and Haiti,” said Dr. Marjorie P. Brennan, MD, Founder & Executive Director, JDT Foundation. “This year, we hope that by facilitating connection, and promoting substantive conversation around opportunities and challenges, this conference will generate actionable strategies for diaspora engagement through this year’s “Commit to Act” initiative.”
NAHP assembled a diverse team of stakeholders from across the Haitian Diaspora to help shape and guide this year’s conference programming to create a weekend dedicated to exploring long-term, sustainable solutions for advocacy, foreign aid and investment in Haiti.
The conference brings together Haitian professionals, industry experts, youth leaders, and public and nonprofit sector workers from Haiti and across the Diaspora for a weekend devoted to crafting policy recommendations for the engagement of targeted sectors for high-impact investment in Haiti.