This morning I read a starting statistic that provides insight into why all the money and effort to rebuild Haiti have not resulted in more progress. Why have billions of dollars not accomplished more? Maybe it is because the people who are deciding how to spend the money are not the people who really know what is best for the country and its communities.

According to the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti, only 0.4 percent of international aid has gone directly to Haitian nonprofits. Less than 1/2 of one percent of the billions of dollars invested in Haiti have gone to help local leaders who are taking risks and working strategies to bring real change in their communities. In their defense, the large aid agencies who are handling most of this money are concerned with corruption, inadequate accountability structures, and other issues. However, since their current approach is not working, maybe it is time to try something else.

What if more investment is made to equip and empower local entrepreneurs? According to Sandra Macías del Villar, [these risk takers] often take bold, innovative approaches despite constantly striving against a system that rarely supports them and deprives them of a voice that begs to be heard. Where Has All the Haiti Money Gone?

del Villar goes on to say, “Although the country has a population of just under 10 million, it has more than 3,000 nongovernmental organizations operating independently. The majority are foreign entities or are led by foreigners who lack the local knowledge and have their own agenda. While the presence of international aid groups is important, recovery and renewal support for any country should be funneled directly at the grass-roots level.”

Real positive change will come when creative local leaders make it happen. Let’s help them do it well. Anda