As the race for the presidency of Haiti heats up, the already large number of candidates throwing their proverbial hats into the ring is increasing, (though some are more serious than others, of course). The candidacy of Steeve Khawly is one that is most unexpected and certainly intriguing. Hailing from Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, this 48 year-old business professional and noted philanthropist aspires to the position for one simple yet noble reason: To help ensure the full recovery of his country based on an extensive and wide-ranging knowledge of economic and environmental issues.
A graduate in Industrial Engineering from the University of Miami with vast entrepreneurial experience from such endeavors as rice processing, flour production and even brick manufacturing, (all of which are in urgent need on the island), Steeve Khawly is also extraordinarily committed to both social and environmental issues that are of the utmost importance to the well-being of Haiti and its ongoing renewal. He is the creator of the Seguin Foundation which, since 2005, has been working to preserve 11,000 hectares of La Visite National Park. His is an ambitious project that has aided and abetted the fight against deforestation and all its detrimental consequences. Under the auspices of the Foundation, over 100,000 trees have been planted, along with countless acts of advocacy working with children, all linked with schools and peasant associations. This program has enabled the surrounding populations to achieve a state of relative economic autonomy through the better management of park resources and with the development of eco-tourism. In a country highly dependent on external aid, where remittances from the diaspora account for a whopping 30% of GDP, this may seem like a modest local success but indeed it is in reality a great national success, one that is internationally recognized by UNESCO.
Even as a very busy businessman and philanthropist, Steeve Khawly nonetheless remains fully committed to an active role in environmental and social issues. One sterling example is his organization “Haiti Chéri,” which is a bold initiative that seeks out and builds upon the commitment to economic reform by some of Haiti’s economic elite. The members of this group have put heart and soul into the drive toward national revival and all involved share the objective of increasing job creation, spurring a middle class renaissance and, vitally, to promoting social peace. Understanding and yet not adding to the many dividing lines in Haiti’s society, its purpose is one of national unity and stands for promotion of Haitian ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. This is a Haiti that Mr. Khawly dreams of, one that is “reconciled, productive, innovative, proud and independent.”
One idea is to exploit increased foreign investments in order to improve the economy of this country, which still remains one of the poorest in the world with a per capita GNP of 846 dollars, (according to the World Bank in 2014). Armed with initiatives, such as those giving Haiti preferential access to the US market, Haiti’s growth and prosperity can be exponentially multiplied to the benefit of all who live there. Mr. Khawly is working to make diplomacy not only one of damage control but also an economic development tool.
In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to combine both green energy development and job creation, according to Mr. Khawly. And he is working at this very moment, tirelessly, to create an attractive rural environment, one with sustainable agriculture that Haiti needs to be reinvigorated and for the allowance of a flourishing of its internal resources. He is also developing projects designed to facilitate industrial exchanges with Haiti’s more prosperous neighbors. His is a vision that reflects a sense of reality, yet remains ambitious with the goal of substantially increasing the general standard of living in Haiti, especially in rural areas, which remains a high priority- (With almost 60% of Haitians living under the national poverty line, an inventive and workable policy to assist the less economically advantage is of great importance for Mr. Khawly).
Steeve Khawly’s main intention in seeking high office is to create innovation, perhaps even a revolution, in Haitian politics through the furthering of administrative reform, the creation of new financial incentive schemes, and to design and implement proven public policies. Notably, this all is to be combined with a focus on bold environmental initiatives in order to further economic sustainability. A business leader who has been honored with recognition from the United Nations for the seriousness of his commitment to the long term betterment of the island and its inhabitants, few candidates for the office of the presidency are more qualified than Steeve Khawly. His motives simply lie in assuring a bright future for all Haitians and a restoration of trust and respect of nationhood.