Haiti: Open For Business – Tri-County Black Chamber Establishes Key Strategic Partnership with Haiti

ABOVE: Patrice Garcia, Yves Estriplet, Howard Johnson (VP TCRBCC), Leondria Thompson (Founder/President TCRBCC), Pierre Marie Du Mény (Minister of Commerce & Industry), David Jean, Daniel Dieujuste, Brent Webb (TCRBCC Media), and Fritznel Claude (Photo by Jared Gilmore J. Raphael’s Photography)

The country of Haiti has an extremely rich history and an even greater connection to the United States, in that former Black slave and Haitian General Toussaint L’Ouverture was the catalyst behind the Louisiana Purchase, which allowed President Thomas Jefferson to strike a deal with France, which became the largest territorial gain in U.S. history and that allowed the U.S. to double in size at a bargain discount. It is safe to say that the U.S. would not be the powerhouse it is today if it were not for General Toussaint L’Ouverture and his Haitian Revolution. Couple that rich history with the rich contributions such as the Creole culture of New Orleans and the many Haitian immigrants that have made many contributions to our American way of life, and it is clear that the U.S. has and can continue to be enhanced by Haitian people and their culture.

As the second largest Caribbean Island, Haiti has had its share of challenges in its past, including earthquakes, deadly diseases and hurricanes, most recently as in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit the island and brought with it devastating flooding that left nearly 600 people dead and more than 35,000 people homeless.

It has been a little over a month since President Donald J. Trump was reported to have made comments at a meeting with lawmakers who had joined the president in the Oval Office on Jan. 11 for a bipartisan discussion on how to protect immigrants that were from several African countries, El Salvador and Haiti.

According to reports, Trump was alleged to have said, “Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?” and as it relates to Haitians in particular Trump was alleged to have said, “Why do we need more Haitians?”

Of course, Trump immediately used his typical mode of communication via Twitter to walk back those alleged comments, tweeting out on Jan. 12 that he “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”

Although they have some challenges, Haiti is far from a “very poor and troubled country” and there is one group out of the Greater Houston area that has realized that connecting with the country of Haiti is a prime opportunity – that group is the Tri-County Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, who recently conducted a pre-Trade Mission on Jan. 21.

During their 8-day mission to Haiti, Tri-County Black Chamber leaders met with The Honorable Antonio Rodrique, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs; The Honorable Dr. Pierre Marie Du Mény, Minister of Commerce and Industry; The Honorable Eunide Innocent, Minister for Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights; along with Congressmen, The Honorable Micalerme Pierre, The Honorable Jovenel Louis, The Honorable Sinal Bertrand and The Honorable Jacques Beauvil; as well as a host of other businesspersons and consultants.

The sights and sounds of Haiti were masterfully captured in all its awesome beauty, especially the Island of LaGonave, by the Tri-County Black Chamber’s Media Corp members, Brent Webb of Bogart Innovations and Jared Gilmore of J Raphael’s Photography, LLC.

Under the leadership of Leondria Thompson, Chairwoman and President of the Tri-County Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, major strides were made to establish solid business relationships with the country of Haiti. Upon the completion of the pre-Trade Mission, the Tri-County Black Chamber was able to establish a strategic working relationship with the Island of LaGonave – a northwest coastal island of Haiti.

As a result of the commitment to fulfill their mission “to acquire and disseminate valuable business information, resources and tools necessary for member firms to achieve Entrepreneurial Parity and Economic Prosperity in the United States and World-wide,” the Tri-County Black Chamber made the decision to join forces with the respective leadership from the Island of LaGonave to create a master plan for the island’s sustainable economic development.

“We began the process of coordinating a Trade Mission to take place from June 9-15, but anytime we do a Trade Mission to a country, we have to do an advance mission to learn things about that country’s history and the potential opportunities that exist,” said Thompson. “Tri-County has had an international initiative since 2005, when the first country that we visited was Belize. From being introduced to Belize, we became a part of CARICOM, which is the Caribbean Community Market. Haiti became the leader of CARICOM on January 1 of this year, and that is when we were introduced to Haiti. We are excited to further cultivate this relationship between the two parties.”

In order to further cultivate the partnership between the two entities, representatives from the Island of LaGonave have ventured to Houston, Texas to participate in their own Trade Mission to better identify the opportunities they have to grow and partner collaboratively together.

“This is a century of a globalization,” said Johnny Elysee, Consultant at the Haitian Congress. “Houston is one of the biggest cities in United States and Haiti is the first independent Black nation, but is in need of infrastructure. We think that Tri-County, as a Black chamber is the most qualified organization that can help us find the best way to meet Black investors in the community so we can become an even greater nation, as we were in the past.”

The Trade Mission for the representatives from the Island of LaGonave will conclude with a feature in the Hidden History Series that will be presented at the Tri-County Regional Black Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Gala that will be held at J.W. Marriott Galleria on February 24, 2018.

The Awards Gala will honor deserving members of the Tri-County Family and network in various categories including: Business Achiever, Business Rising Star, Business Champions, Black History Living Legends, Beacon Honorees, E.L.L.A. and the Sylvester Turner Perseverance Award. Ten finalists, who were nominated by public submission, have been selected to be voted on by the attendees at the Awards Gala to be the final recipient of the Sylvester Turner Perseverance Award’s Prestigious Loving Cup.

The finale of the Awards Gala will be the presentation of the Hidden History Series, which will highlight the first Black nation to declare their independence – Haiti.

The Tri-County Regional Black Chamber of Commerce will travel to Haiti for its maiden Trade Mission to Haiti from June 9-15, 2018. For more information on that Trade Mission, please contact Tri-County Black Chamber representatives at 832-875-3977 and/or the website: www.tcbcc.org.

TCRBCC Executives with the Haitian Delegation and Jose Grinan at FOX 26 (Photo by Jared Gilmore J. Raphael’s Photography)