PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton announced a plan Thursday to help Haiti recover from the Jan. 12 earthquake with loans to small and medium-size businesses backed by aid from the world’s richest man.
Clinton said Mexico’s Carlos Slim would contribute half the seed money for the new $20 million fund. The other half would come from Canadian businessman Frank Guistra. Both men were with the former president at a news conference in Port-au-Prince to announce the fund, which is expected to grow from additional contributions and earnings from the loans over time.
Money from the fund will be loaned to Haitian businesses that otherwise might not have access to capital in a nation that was already desperately poor before the earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and destroyed about 105,000 homes.
“We hope to empower entrepreneurs with the tools to transform their aspirations, hard work, and good ideas into profitable businesses that create jobs and help fuel the growth of the Haitian economy,” the former president told reporters.
Clinton, a U.N. special envoy to Haiti, was in the country to attend the first meeting of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee, which will oversee the more than $5 billion pledged by the international community for reconstruction.
The $20 million fund is a project of the Clinton Foundation, through the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, and Fundacion Carlos Slim, a philanthropic organization created by the Mexican telecom magnate who this year surpassed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as the world’s richest man.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.