Founded in 2013 to serve as a Financial Advisory firm, ProFin has quickly evolved to become the first licensed Investment Bank of Haiti. Fully regulated and supervised by the Haitian Central Bank, ProFin has successfully managed to grow at a rapid pace. The pioneering company offers the opportunity to economic actors of Haiti and its diaspora to invest their capital in securities resulting better benefits than the traditional bank products, and with a direct impact on the local community. As Robert Paret Jr., Chairman of ProFin and Vice-Chairman of Caribbean Investor Capital puts it, “we assist companies and institutions seeking specialised financial assistance and transactions such as IPOs, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or debt restructuring”; while adding on “we are also the first licensed company in the country providing portfolio management services for the general public”.
For its part, Caribbean Investor Capital (CIC), another Haitian corporation, evolved in a different field. Founded in November 2016, the company is the first Open-Ended Private Equity Fund of Haiti and holds significant stakes in companies operating in growth sectors in Haiti and other Caribbean countries. In addition, CIC intends to build a diversified portfolio to mitigate the risks associated with specific industries and geographic areas. “Both ProFin and CIC share the same vision of a bright future for the Haitian financial market, they offer a combination of services that are largely favourable to long- term investment in Haiti” -proudly says the entrepreneur after explaining how immediate has been the success of the two companies.
The performance has been remarkable. While prior to ProFin’s arrival on the market, the entire bonds portfolio issued by Central Bank and accessible to the general public represented less than 40 million gourdes; the launching of the Portfolio and Wealth Management Division at ProFin in January 2017 lead to the placement of over 1billion gourdes to date, making the product available for a larger base of economic agents. After being able to mobilise more than US$ 25 million in Assets Under Management and Private Placements, the company is now executing its security mandates to new industries such as tourism and finance. The Chairman explains that looking for new sectors is key for development and provides alternatives for many companies willing to diversify their sources of funds, “housing is in high demand and it’s one of our priorities; there is a huge demand but there are no projects on how to integrate the development of the sector, we therefore concentrate on it right now”. CIC is also in a phase of rapid growth, and has already raised close to US$ 10 million invested in various companies. Through its diversification strategy, CIC is also investing outside Haiti and nearly a hundred investors from Haiti and its diaspora can comfortably invest in several industries. As Mr. Paret argues “this is a unique opportunity to promote the economic growth of Haiti and create jobs, it lays the ground for a new ecosystem where general public has access to investment opportunities”.
The development of investment in Haiti has been challenging. The lack of information and awareness have been major obstacles for the establishment of investment opportunities. “Investment was something new to this country” explains the chairman, “we haven’t been educated in Haiti at an individual level on how to look at opportunities and plan for our retirement. Companies were used to obtaining finance only through bank loans”. To address the situation, ProFin offered free workshops on investment open to the public, “In one year we trained over 1.000 people on why to invest, how to do it, and what types of securities are better to suit each case” – says Mr. Paret, “the formation of a community of well-educated investors is having an immediate impact on the business”. By assisting and encouraging companies to turn to capital market opportunities in order to raise capital, ProFin expects to exceed US$ 100 million of security issuance in the next two or three years.
For its part, CIC’s main strategy aims at identifying companies operating in creative sectors that are looking for partners to participate in their capital and their governance. This is possible thanks to the extensive network created by CIC in the Caribbean. The company plans to move from a current investment portfolio of nearly US$ 10 million to US$ 35 million in less than 5 years.
ProFin is the only company to have obtained a formal license from the Central Bank of Haiti to operate as an investment bank so far. Until recently, commercial banks have provided some of the financial services, but they have not been very active in securities issuance or portfolio management. “ This is a market that will develop in a near future”, explains the Chairman, “I anticipate that other players will formalise or reorient their strategy to create a dynamic capital market with us, it is our wish to see a diversified and active market”. ProFin and CIC look at other actors as potential partners to meet the increasing demand for investment in Haiti. Its large population, the need for new and modern infrastructures along with opportunities for added value explain the growing interest for the Caribbean country. The market has yet to be trusted by the regional actors, and ProFin is working hard to change that perception, “we look for regional partners because we believe we can create a good synergy, we also wish to make the diaspora invest back in the country”– states Mr. Paret after explaining that services such as e-banking platforms are being put in place to earn investor’s trust and ease their investment experience.
Haiti undoubtedly presents enormous opportunities for potential investors. For their part, ProFin and CIC have set up a performant structure capable of supporting local and foreign investors at various levels: advisory services, development of strategic partnership, co-investment and capital raise. Whether for traditional securities investments through ProFin, or long-term investments through CIC, the Haitian diaspora and regional actors can now safely invest in Haiti. “Our country needed this new breath, this new vision; Haiti needs to address financing differently” -concludes the gentleman that planted the seeds for the development of a capital market in its country.