Investing in Haiti: From life-sustaining water to soul-deadening tv


Haiti may not have a whole lot but it has Leopard Capital, which styles itself as “the first private equity fund for Haiti, with US $20 million committed capital from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the Netherlands Development Finance Company, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).”

It’s hard to escape Leopard Capital’s slight but well-formed shadow if you’re headed for Haiti, or indeed some other unlikely locations such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.

Here in Haiti, it’s already handed out wads of the good stuff to Dlo Haiti, which is establishing a network of wells serving solar-powered water kiosks to dispense water in five-gallon jugs. Now, says Leopard Capital, it has invested $2,500,000 in Digital Satellite Systems, the owner and operator of one of Haiti’s leading pay television services, NUtv. For those who don’t know much about NUtv, it claims to be “the first digital terrestrial television company in Haiti to provide viewers Haitians over 100 local channels (in English, French and Spanish) in the Department of the West.”

So far so good. But it sounds like an odd progression of investments. From water, a life-sustaining resource, to television, which is hardly necessary to life and almost totally incidental to intelligent life. (I jest, some of my best friends are on televison or in the business).

The idea appears to be that NUtv will enhance its network and expand coverage to areas it does not reach. NUtv’s broader rollout is expected to support Haiti’s transition from analog to digital television, thereby helping bridge the digital divide.

They don’t explain how but perhaps all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac