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Haiti is known throughout the Caribbean, Americas and Europe for the quality and creativity of its handicrafts, especially metalwork. The capacity of the handicrafts industry to turn that advantage into a larger and growing market share is constrained by a number of factors. The objective of this assessment is to better understand the constraints and opportunities of the handicrafts industry in Haiti, and to present the findings to key stakeholders in the industry in order to develop a competitiveness strategy focused on greater efficiency, increased differentiation (including quality improvements) and accessing new markets.

Information was gathered through interviews with over 50 market actors in Haiti with additional interviews of experts in the global handicraft market, with a particular focus on the US1, on trends and opportunities in the market. To permit a greater depth of analysis, interviews were limited to market actors involved in metal and papier-mâché crafts. This report focuses on the in-country assessment of the handicrafts value chain in Haiti and the stakeholder planning workshop.

The end market analysis identified important opportunities for the unique crafts of Haiti to find greater market share—particularly in the home accessories markets in the U.S. The in-country analysis identified six principal constraints and opportunities for market actors to increase the competitiveness of the overall sector and to increase benefits to micro- and small enterprise (MSE) craft producers including employees of large craft production firms—focusing in particular on the U.S. home accessories markets. These constraints and opportunities are:
• lack of access to product design services and timely market information for new product development
• lack of capacity to identify and link with buyers in all market segments
• lack of access to regular and affordable raw materials
• lack of access to production financing
• opportunity for intermediary agent services to link producers with foreign buyers
• opportunity for designer/producers to provide design services to craft factories and workshops

The in-country analysis was followed by a workshop for industry stakeholders designed to enable them to use the results of the analysis to establish priorities activities, plan next steps and delegate tasks—transferring control of the development agenda to the firms that have a stake in what happens to the sector. At this workshop, participants recommended focusing on the first two key constraints: lack of access to product design services and timely market information for new product development, and lack of capacity to identify and establish relations with buyers in all market channels. Upgrading in these two areas would allow artisans to produce a range of contemporary home accessories with distinctly Haitian characteristics and to sell to U.S. and other buyers.

The workshop participants developed a vision of a Haitian handicrafts sector having regained its renown as a source of handicrafts sought after by importers and tourists alike. To promote this vision and tackle priority constraints, the stakeholders formulated an action plan to i) increase communication among different market actors through workshops, associations and networks, and ii) identify existing and potential agents to fill a market intermediation role between producers and buyers that would be a source of information on market trends and connections to potential buyers.