Published On: Mon, Dec 24th, 2012

New manufacturing company in Haiti to produce high-end clothing

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A new company, Industrial Revolution II LP (IRII), will receive a loan of up to $1 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), allowing it to retrofit and equip a garment factory in Port-au-Prince and train workers living at the base of the economic pyramid in Haiti.

IRII’s project to introduce high-end manufacturing in Haiti is sponsored by an investment group that is headed by Joelle Berdugo Adler, the founder of the Montreal-based ONExONE Foundation, which operates in Canada, the United States and Haiti; Richard Coles, a Haitian textile executive, and Robert Broggi, a Boston-based finance industry executive.

The textile and apparel industry is Haiti’s largest manufacturing sector, accounting for 80 percent of exports and around 10 percent of GDP in 2010, before the earthquake struck. Even with Haiti’s proximity to the United States and preferential access to US markets, the apparel industry in the country continues to focus on producing high-volume, low-margin apparel for the mass market, where producers continuously move from country to country in search of the lowest-cost production location.

Thanks to IDB financing, IRII will introduce an innovative model for apparel manufacturing in the country that radically departs from the prevailing paradigm of low-cost production of commodity garments.

“The IDB is supporting IRII because we believe the project can change the paradigm for apparel manufacturing in Haiti by demonstrating the feasibility of producing higher-quality products that yield greater benefits to workers, the local community and the country,” said Rahul Desai, the project team leader at the IDB’s Opportunities for the Majority initiative.

Having identified the need from fashion and “fast-fashion” designers and retailers in North America for nearby sources of supply that can respond quickly to changing market needs with smaller production runs, IRII will hire local workers (mainly women) who will be trained to produce high-end apparel utilizing the latest manufacturing technologies and adhering to superior social and environmental standards.

The project will not only generate direct employment for low-income Haitians, but will also provide training to enhance the skill level of Haitian apparel industry workers and managers and allocate 50 percent of profit distributions to programs for employees, their families, and the local community.

The IDB’s Opportunities for the Majority (OMJ) promotes and finances market-based, sustainable business models that engage companies, local governments and communities in the development and delivery of quality products and services for people at the base of pyramid in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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