Martha Stewart visits Haiti

Martha with metal worker Serge Jolimeau

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is dedicated to rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of Haitians through innovative activities. Our recent grant of $1.1 million to three great organizations hits on several of the key areas where such activity is needed: jump-starting an expanding small and growing businesses, supporting the transition from an underground economy to a formal one, and supporting job creation.

One of the organizations that received our grant is HAND/EYE Fund. The HAND/EYE Fund, created in 2010, is going to use its $535,876 grant to help connect artisan groups to US markets, and support skilled artisans through grants to artisan cooperatives. In Haiti, HAND/EYE is connecting artists to global markets, further invigorating the Haitian artisan sector.

HAND/EYE is working to create the Artisan Business Network to provide artisan groups with product development and communication tools. The Network will help the artisans effectively and efficiently design and export their work, and employ additional artisans as business with Haiti expands. The newly formed Network is expected to help generate and facilitate new orders with other retailers, most notably Anthropologie.

Martha, with designer Rachel Roy (left), met with artisans from across the country.

In July, Martha Stewart and fashion designer Rachel Roy joined Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren in visiting several artisan communities. HAND/EYE is working with Macy's on an order for the fall.

"Our relationships in Haiti demonstrate how retail can change the world," explains Lundgren. "With a little planning and a little effort, we can open up opportunities for people largely excluded from global commerce. The resulting income has a profound impact for artisan families and a ripple effect in their communities."

If we are to continue successfully reconstructing Haiti and building a sustainable future for the country, we need private-sector-driven growth that happens from within. This fundamental belief is what drove our investment in HAND/EYE, which at its very core is about putting Haitians back to work. We look forward to continuing to make smart investments that create an environment for vibrant, sustainable economic growth.