Reviving a Salt Business in Haiti

Tropical Salt, a company in Grande Saline, a salt-rich region in northwest Haiti, collects salt water in ponds. The water later evaporates and the salt is collected by hand.

Tropical Salt, a company in Grande Saline, a salt-rich region in northwest Haiti, collects salt water in ponds. The water later evaporates and the salt is collected by hand.

Several years ago, entrepreneur Edwidge Armand, born in Haiti and raised in a close-knit Haitian community in Elizabeth, New Jersey, left Wall Street to cultivate a salt business in his native country, reports Garry Pierre-Pierre for The Haitian Times.

Armand’s grandparents left him land in a salt-rich region of northwest Haiti, and his company, Tropical Salt, grew quickly. Early customers included a bakery in Minnesota and a salt vendor in North Carolina.

“There are not too many countries producing all natural sea salt like the one that we have in this country. Sea salt is supposed to be grey, ours is pure white with no bleaching like Morton and many people are using Dead Sea Salt which is another category,” Armand told me the other day in Port-au-Prince.

But the company has suffered many setbacks over the years with Haiti’s political turmoil, hurricanes and the devastating 2010 earthquake. At one point, gunmen ambushed Armand as he drove on the highway.

The bandits pumped three bullets into his vehicle. One of the bullets went through his chest coming perilously close to his heart and grazed his left arm. The business shuttered its doors for another eight months.

Although eager to get the company moving again, Armand has found investors weary of funding ventures in Haiti, or if they expressed interest, they hoped to get rich quick and leave. Now Armand is growing funds slowly with a large account in Haiti and others in the United States. He has big plans for his salt business in Haiti.

“My goal and my dream is to build a solar evaporated plant in Grande Saline where we will be able to employ a total of 1,500 people. In 2001 we were approved for a loan from the World Bank but the conditions were for me to come with one third of the amount.”

What Armand is looking for is a total investment of $300,000 with a 30 percent Returned On Investment guaranteed. Armand is supremely confident that Tropical Salt can produce 10 million pounds of salt to an eagerly awaiting market.

For more on the journey of Tropical Salt and Haiti’s overall struggle to secure meaningful investment, read the full story at The Haitian Times.

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