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The Next Chapter in Haiti: Take Root and Flourish

By:  Alfredo Rivera Jun 12, 2014
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Coca-Cola in Haiti

The mango harvest season in Haiti is underway and what a season it’s been so far. I travel to Haiti regularly in my role at The Coca-Cola Company, but it was this most recent trip that I could see that our collective investments in the Haiti Hope Project were making quite a difference. Through our outstanding partnership with the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB); the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); and TechnoServe, we have seen great progress over the last several years. Anchored by consistent and genuine communication, we have worked together to set ambitious goals and maintain a strong results-oriented approach.

The numbers to date are impressive. Thanks to TechnoServe’s innovative approach, the project is yielding very positive results. Over 25,000 mango farmers enrolled in the project, half of which are women; 270 farmer groups aggregating interests and exercising market influence; over 8,000 borrowers with access to credit; and maturing partnerships with Haitian exporters that are helping to make available quality mangoes from wholesale markets in New York and Miami to the 355 Whole Foods stores across North America. And, in this 2014 mango season, we are expecting even greater sales/exports, better organization and quality improvements.

But the numbers only tell part of the story. The Haiti Hope Project is most about empowering people with the knowledge, resources and expertise to improve livelihoods and build sustainable communities. The Project has introduced new practices, and through our talented NGO partner, TechnoServe, has been able to adapt and refine based on farmer and community needs. The goal remains the same but the process is key. And, I have seen that first-hand. For farmers, tree production no longer ends at the planting stage. But, it’s now about the overall management of the tree through effective pruning and grafting techniques that enhance the tree’s health and the quality and quantity of the fruit.

The professionalization of the farmer groups has also brought better organization, management practices and ultimately sales for the participating farmers. And, now for the first time farmers selling through these groups are receiving a receipt for the sales of their mango product. This gives them not only the knowledge but the capability to exercise market influence as they have not done before. And, TechnoServe’s business-oriented approach has been instrumental in helping provide the farmers with this new business mindset and acumen. The potential for industry growth is great and our goal is to help facilitate a market environment that enables farmers and their families to grow and access new opportunities.

For all the partners, our investments in Haiti are a long-term one. But, now as the Project will soon conclude its fourth year, partnership with the government, other private sector actors, and the farmers themselves needed to sustain these successes are all the more critical. The next chapter is an especially important one for the Project, and we are working together to ensure that the necessary structures and practices are instilled, take root and flourish.

Alfredo Rivera is president of The Coca-Cola Company’s Latin Center Business Unit. The Haiti Hope Project is a coalition comprised of The Coca-Cola Company; the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB); the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); and TechnoServe, with support from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the Soros Economic Development Fund and other international and local actors.