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How Your Company Can Help Countries Like Haiti

Words by 3p Contributor
Leadership & Transparency
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By Scott Huntington

We all want to help people, but misinformation and a lack of confidence in corporatized aid efforts sometimes deter us from doing so. The list of NGOs, fundraisers and activist groups out there could fill volumes, but when jumping into aid work from a corporate standpoint, it can be hard to know where to start.

Located south of Cuba, easily accessible from the United States, the island nation of Haiti desperately needs support. People want to help, but most of us don’t know how best to get involved. Here are some ways your company can make a difference for Haiti and other places like it.

Education


Many Westerners have grown up with the concept of developing nations as hostile places where violence and unrest run rampant. A little travel experience will stamp out that idea quickly, and it’s important to know that, as with many places, common misconceptions about the risks of traveling to Haiti are largely untrue or greatly exaggerated.

Helping people come to know more about a country makes them fear it less, which removes barriers to involvement.

Work to Deliver Clean Water


There is no resource so precious to human life as clean water, yet in many impoverished regions around the world, people struggle through everyday life without it. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is home to many tribal groups who travel miles for access to limited water supplies.

Projects like Clean Water for Haiti are implementing sustainable solutions such as low-cost biosand filtering units that can be installed quickly and maintained with a minimum amount of training. These are important projects to support. While many projects focus on delivering technology or material goods, none of those things matter if people are dying of waterborne diseases.

Paths to Entrepreneurship


Instead of donating free items, consider ways to partner with locals and encourage entrepreneurship. For example, Knit & Pearls, a company out of Avon, Conn., has teamed with nonprofit Haiti Projects Inc. to employ roughly 100 Haitian women who knit goods they then resell to the local community.

Instead of donating goods, which would hurt local markets, this approach puts the power of production in the hands of the people and allows them to take part in growing the local economy. It is a critical paradigm shift — these people are more than capable of supporting themselves, but they must learn the right way to do so, rather than just giving away free goods.

By encouraging entrepreneurship, you can help the community work toward the goal of involvement in global trade. Countries not involved in the global trade network suffer without access to income from trade deals. Entrepreneurs can be enough to make the difference between a country’s First-World vs. Third-World status.

Support Women and Girls


Women’s rights have been a topic of contention in the developed world since the Industrial Revolution. However, women in impoverished areas must often endure much crueler realities than what we face in the developed world. Not only do males often treat them as second-class citizens, but they also get saddled with the burden of raising families and educating children with little help.

Finding ways to partner with progressive women's organizations can be doubly effective. Not only will you be making an immediate difference in people's lives, but you will also be helping advance the broader, global movement toward better treatment of women.

Every company is different. What works for one might not be feasible for another, but surely there is something you can do. Talk to your employees, and find out what their interests are.

Share stories of places you’ve traveled and things you’ve done to help on your company intranet or website. People like to support progressive companies, so your efforts aren’t just good for places like Haiti — they’re good for business, too.

3p Contributor

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