For investors, Haiti remains a tough environment

August 21, 2013 • World News

FILE – In this Dec. 19, 2012 file photo, Denis O’Brien, chairman of Digicel Group, left, Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves, second from left, Haiti’s Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, second from right, and Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a Marriott hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. For Nickson Toussaint, who returned to Haiti from Washington, D.C. with dreams of opening a small hotel along the coast north of the country’s capital, the snags he’s hit reflect a system that favors big, multinational companies such as Marriott International or Best Western. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Nickson Toussaint returned to Haiti from Washington, D.C., with dreams of opening a small hotel along the shimmering coast north of the country’s capital. He bought 2.6 acres of land for $70,000 and looked for a loan or investors.

But like other expatriates and people of Haitian descent who glimpsed opportunity in helping rebuild the impoverished country, Toussaint received a rude awakening. A Haitian development group that offers financing to first-time entrepreneurs hasn’t given him a loan.

The U.S. citizen also ran into a thicket of red tape and others laying claim to the land. The project has been stalled for almost two years.

“It’s been just a gigantic headache,” Toussaint said.

New businesses have opened throughout Haiti since a January 2010 earthquake devastated much of the country, and the government promises more development is coming. The administration of Haitian President Michel Martelly has made attracting foreign investment a top priority, using the motto “Haiti is open for business.”

But the experiences of Toussaint, 28, and others demonstrate the struggles that would-be business owners Login to read more

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