HopEconomics: Haitian Diaspora, Economic Liberators or Modern Day Slaves?
By Marc Saint Clair
Many years ago, there were two types of slaves in Haiti; field slaves and house slaves. Field slaves were slaves who did the hard manual labor in the fields of plantations. They lived the harshest life and lived in the most deplorable conditions. House slaves on the other hand worked and often lived in the house of the slave-owner. While house slaves lived in better conditions, they along with their kids were slated to be in bondage their entire lives.
The Diaspora believes that it is the financial liberator of Haiti because it’s annual 1.8 Billions in remittance equals nearly 25% of Haiti’s entire GDP. Such a sheer amount would unquestionably be an economic force to reckon with. Unfortunately, remittance money has not achieved financial respect. Furthermore, it is merely viewed back home as a mandatory obligation of the Diaspora as opposed to a viable financial instrument.
Situation facts of the average Diaspora:
-Work 40-80 hours per week. 1/3rd of income goes to Haiti to support family and loved ones
– Will pass the legacy of supporting family in Haiti to their kids
-Individually, their respective $200 monthly potential contribution will not even get them within one mile of any returnable investment reconstruction deals in Haiti
– Despite mandatory manual labor to accumulate money for remittance, they do nothing to change the status quo because they live more comfortably than their counterparts in Haiti
In 1870 Harriet Tubman used the underground railroad, an elaborate network of secret routes and safe houses, to free slaves from the south. As she tried to free some of the slaves, many resisted the opportunity. She said that “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if they only knew they were slaves”
In our veins run the bloodline of Toussaint Louverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and many more. These amazing men changed the course of humanity. They were yet simple men that took on the task to trust one another and became a generation of liberators. Sons and daughters are supposed to outdo their parents. Our generation is long overdue for performance. If you are a Diaspora reading this and felt that this has been a problem, you’re probably a genetic carrier of our forefathers and are among six out of every 1000 Haitian Diaspora that are willing to rise to the occasion. Even at the height of technology, knowledge and even a cumulative $1.8Billion wealth, why won’t the Diaspora see that it is a modern day economic slave?
Profitable financial instruments available in Haiti today are out of reach for 80% of the population. Two things apply:
1. Either all the “MP” gets on the deal prior to it becoming public or
2. Existing firms require a minimum of $100,000-$250,000 to participate in any meaningful deal that would bring a return that commensurate with Haiti’s projected growth. The status quo strategically and financially box out over 90% of all Haitians living in Haiti and abroad.
Financial companies need to create instruments for the other 80% of the population. If this is done successfully:
1. More Haitians will be able to catapult from poverty into middle class within one generation
2. Disposable income will increase, as well as consumption and the entire pie
3. Haitians would be able to buy affordable shares of companies, use their portfolio as collateral for credit, automatically become banked and be in a better position to leave a financial inheritance for their kids as opposed to a perpetual remittance shackle.
Read the French version of this article here
Marc Saint Clair is COH Economics Program Director (business & entrepreneurship) and one of the Managing Partners at Haiti Ventures LLC. – Email Marc
HopEconomics – Economics for Hope