The Center for Facilitation of Investments (CFI) is Haiti’s national investment promotion agency mandated to promote investments and help potential investors find and take advantage of opportunities in Haiti. It was created in January 2006.
Their objective is to support investors from the first stages of interest through to post-establishment of their companies. The center aims to facilitate business transactions in Haiti. In April 2017, Tessa Jacques became the new director of the center, bringing with her innovative strategies to re-think the way of doing business in Haiti.
This past year, The CFI has been focusing on making its activities more visible, especially to the private sector and to the Haitian people, for them to understand what the center accomplishes on a daily basis.
New events have been organized by the CFI in order to promote their brand image. The main role of CFI is to provide accurate information to international investors and to show them that the business landscape is moving quickly in Haiti. As Madame Tessa Jacques says: “Things are actually being changed, innovation is bridging gaps”. Tessa believes that Haiti has been poorly represented in the media in the last couple of years, and although some of the misfortunes touching the country are undeniable, it is important for investors to realize that the country is changing.
The main focus since 2017, has been to build and develop an investment strategy. Sector studies have been performed to determine niche segments of the economy. The government has set its priority into a number of sectors like agro-business, textile and apparel, BPOs, renewable energy, infrastructure and tourism.
The CFI’s work is to look at the competitiveness of each sector in order to promote them in a more effective manner. For the sectors that need improving, the CFI finds solutions to boost their performances. For instance, looking at BPO’s, CFI’s objective is to show investors that they can quickly find a qualified bilingual workforce while providing the necessary basic training. With this in mind, the CFI launched a new platform called Haiti Digital Services, where people can register and list their skills so that they can be matched with an interested company. The platform is proof that Haiti can provide firms with the right talent.
Another CFI action from last year was the organization of the Forum for competition, support and investment in September 2017. The forum invited the private sector and government officials to look at the issues that stop Haiti from being more competitive. It was the first time that both parties sat down in order to find concrete solutions. After the Forum, a technical secretariat was put in place to follow up on the promises made during the meeting.
Mrs. Tessa Jacques states that “The biggest challenge is that we do not have the easiest system to navigate with however we are working on changing it”. She is also absolutely convinced that there is a shift to look at the country differently and that all the sectors will benefit from this approach. “The Business climate is what people look at and this is why having this event in September was so important. Registering a company in Haiti can take months, while in other countries it is a matter of hours, and this is what we need to change. People need to understand that there are opportunities and they need to be able to seize them.”– the Director remarks.
“CFI’s work is to look at the competitiveness of each sector in order to promote them in a more effective manner.”
“So why invest in Haiti? Haiti is a land of opportunities that people have not seen before.”
Investments in infrastructure are absolutely crucial for the country. However, the ideal investor for to the CFI, is one that is willing to look at the long run, an investor that invests in people and is willing to create jobs with added value.
The Haitian diaspora is a very powerful community, 1.2 billion dollars is being sent back to Haiti every year by the diaspora. If that same amount was shifted into making investment and creating jobs, it would have a major impact.
There has been a shift in mentalities, that third generation of Haitians living abroad want to contribute and explore business opportunities in the country making the diaspora a key partner in the future development of the country.
So why to invest in Haiti? “Haiti is a land of opportunities that people have not seen before.” – Madame Tessa reminds us. Her final message to potential investors does not leave you indifferent: “Come and see it by yourself. Do not wait to hear the word from someone else. After you read this, actually book a ticket and come!”