The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) supported the successful staging of Haitian NGO, Femmes en Démocratie’s ninth edition of its female-owned small business trade show, Femmes Création & Production 2014, from May 3rd- 4th in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
More than 80 exhibitors set up shop at the Hotel Montana to display their creations, which included arts & crafts, aromatherapy, clothing, jewelry and accessories, decorative goods, agribusiness, and others. Visitors interacted with exhibitors amid a festive atmosphere that included live music, fresh food, and activities for all ages.
Caribbean Export has been a long-time sponsor and supporter of Femmes en Démocratie. For this most recent staging, the Agency enabled the participation of international buyers from the United States, and Jamaica, who came to engage with the newest merchandise and establish business relationships with Haitian suppliers. Through this intervention, the Agency seeks to create business opportunities for Haitian women-owned businesses, associations and cooperatives via a greater interaction with international buyers that would lead to higher exports and competitiveness in the Haitian artisan sector.
Gail Bell, Director of Retail Operations for Sandals Resorts, who is responsible for purchasing merchandise for over 30 retail stores in 7 Caribbean countries, explains that she always looks forward to visiting Haiti as she can find authentic and innovative Caribbean goods for Sandals’ gift and souvenir boutiques at competitive prices. This is in stark contrast to many wholesale outlets where the merchandise is often sourced from Asia. Haiti’s status as a CARICOM country also allows her to sell the goods free of import duty at Sandals Resorts in other CARICOM territories.
Caribbean Export’s Executive Director, Pamela Coke Hamilton, reinforced these sentiments stating,
“Haiti has a vast array of some of the most unique and beautiful indigenous art and craft due to its history and heritage. Haitian women in particular, have been the sentinels of these forms, preserving and reinventing them. The Femmes en Démocratie organization is to be applauded for providing a platform for female artisans who are not only keeping an important aspect of their culture alive but form the nucleus of a potentially lucrative export industry.”
Niche sectors such as arts and crafts, fashion and garments, agro-processing, among others, have been identified by Caribbean Export as having a high potential to benefit from EPA provisions, and as such, the Agency has prioritized the support of these sectors under the 10th European Development Fund, Regional Private Sector Development Program. The Femmes en Démocratie Femmes Creation & Production show is an ideal platform for the promotion and support of Caribbean niche sectors and the Agency was pleased to partner with such a success event.