PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – Reporting live from Port-au-Prince Haiti for the next two days, host of Beyond the Headlines, Clint Watson, revealed on Wednesday that despite being known as an impoverished nation with few jobs and political unrest, Haiti’s bustling capital is actually a melting pot of opportunity for those who may be interested in investing.
According to Waston, the capital is a rich hub of commerce and culture, but the world has no idea of all that the island has to offer.
Residents, however, are still hopeful that if the right formula can be achieved, the country will experience change.
Leighton Williams, a Jamaican businessman living in Haiti, yesterday dashed the misconceptions that many may have about the island.
“To be honest with you, I did not want to come here the first time because what you see on the news and because of what the people tell you, you will get really scared and afraid to come,” the businessman said.
“I then arrived at the airport and then I went to the city. I went up town and saw the hotels and I saw how friendly the people were and I was like, wow. I got on my phone and told my Jamaican friends, hey, this is not what it’s like,” Williams said.
According to the Jamaican businessman, Haiti has a lot of potential and what is needed is the effort of other business persons to help residents to understand their full potential and that Haiti can grow on its own.
Asked what Haiti needed to curb the level of poverty that exists, Williams said, “I think it is more dialogue and more communication between the population and the government.”
And with more than 14 million people living in Haiti, finding employment is difficult.
It, therefore, leads many residents to take on whatever jobs they can in order to survive.
Acting as a translator for Beyond the Headlines, Louby Georges, a Haitian-Bahamian explained that some Haitians would form a base outside exclusive restaurants in Port-au-Prince simply to make a living.
“He is basically saying this is their base. They are outside a nice restaurant and they wash cars or park cars so when people come to eat at the restaurant they can also get the opportunity to make a living,” Georges translated for a Haitian national.
Johanne Pierre, a Haitian businesswoman told Beyond the Headlines that there is so much to see and many places to go if a person ever decides to visit Haiti.
“You can go in the mountains or horseback riding and there is so much to do,” she said, adding that many tourists are amazed when they visit Haiti to see the natives’ way of life.
Horlly Eliacin, also a resident of Haiti, expressed that Haiti does not thrive economically because the government does not promote the country enough to foreign investors so that they can make use of the island’s natural resources.
“Basically we have to change that mindset and break that paradigm and do something different to promote the country more, but everybody must be involved in order to do so.
“So basically, Haiti is probably the only country in the Caribbean that does not have enough investment so we have to work together in order to change the face of Haiti in order to bring people to the country,” he said.
The Haitian native said he believes that a difference can be made but there is a lack of investment.
He also made mention of the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and thrives economically.
“They have a lot of things there and they are now focusing a lot on tourism and this is exactly what we need to do here [in Haiti] – attract a lot of investors to do the same type of investment as they do in the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.”
Asked his opinion about the tide of illegal migration to other countries and how it could be stemmed, Eliacian said the government should work closely with the private sector to invest in Haiti’s provinces to create jobs.
“When this happens, people from those provinces won’t leave the country in small boats in order to go to places such as The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico so there should be investments.”