Yunus Social Business, Virgin Unite and Clinton Foundation Launch Haiti Forest Initiative

Ten thousand hectares of land being promised by Ministries of Agriculture and Environment to develop sustainable agro-forestry initiative

Project to Impact the environment, agriculture and improve livelihoods in rural areas of Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Yunus Social Business, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Unite, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation, announced last Sunday the launch of a new social initiative called Haiti Forest. The partnership aims to solve social and environmental problems in Haiti by bringing sustainable, productive and socially responsible forests to the country.

Ten thousand hectares of land are being promised by the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment to develop the new, bold Haiti Forest Initiative in the Artibonite and northern part of the country. Haiti Forest has full support of the Government of Haiti and is in line with the priorities of the Government to support long-term reconstruction efforts, especially those that create jobs and promoting economic opportunities. The multi-year project will provide affordable food, timber, and employment in Haiti, and will be organized as a Social Business – a company set-up for maximizing social benefit rather than private profit.

"I am pleased that my Foundation is working with Yunus Social Business and Virgin Unite," said President Bill Clinton. "Through this partnership, we hope to create a replicable model for programs that demonstrate long-term, positive social and environmental impact as well as economic benefits across Haiti."

"Haiti Forest is an example how social business represents a unique opportunity to drive economic growth in Haiti," said Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Yunus Social Business. "Social Businesses like Haiti Forest that are aimed at an environmental or social need represent not only the solutions to these pressing issues, but the financially sustainable means for continued development in Haiti."

"Virgin Unite is very pleased to partner with the Yunus Social Business Initiative and the Clinton Foundation to invest in supporting entrepreneurial solutions to generate reforestation and sustainable livelihoods in Haiti," said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Unite. "This project will create much-needed economic opportunities for many and is wonderful way to do something good for our planet and the people of Haiti."

The new initiative's four main objectives are: to re-forest Haiti; provide sustainable livelihoods to farmers; and over the long term help mitigate Haiti's dependency on food imports; and help identify alternative fuel sources to reduce usage of charcoal. To ensure that the benefits of re-forestation are lasting and durable, Haiti Forest will empower micro-entrepreneurs and local communities to preserve and maintain their country's forests.

The announcement marks the beginning of a six-month planning and preparation study that will form the basis of the Haiti Forest pilot program. The study will work closely with Haitian rural communities and small holder farmers to determine what trees and crops should be planted, engage community leaders on the reforestation aspects of the project, and work with government to identify applicable land areas.

The Haiti Forest partnership was created out of a recognized need to address environmental degradation and deforestation in a sustainable way. Haiti has lost virtually all of its forests over the last half-century, resulting in massive soil erosion and a consequent decline in the amount of arable land. By enabling sustainable forest management, Haiti Forest works toward providing a model to help reverse this trend.

About Yunus Social Business (Global Initiatives)
Co-founded by Peace Nobel Laureate Professor Yunus, Yunus Social Business (YSB) initiates and manages incubator funds for Social Businesses in several countries. While the incubators search, coach and select Social Businesses, the funds provide loans and equity after a thorough due diligence process. YSB also provides advisory services to corporates, NGOs, foundations and governments. YSB has a team of enthusiastic consulting, venture capital and development experts based in Germany, with subsidiaries in Haiti and Albania and is currently expanding into Brazil, Togo, Tunisia and Colombia.

For more information, visit http://www.yunussb.com 

About Virgin Unite
Virgin Unite is the not for profit foundation of the Virgin Group, founded by Sir Richard Branson. It unites people and entrepreneurial ideas to reinvent how we live and work in the world to help make people's lives better. Its aim is to revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good. 

About the Clinton Foundation
Building on a lifetime of public service, President Bill Clinton established the Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. Since 2001, President Clinton's vision and leadership have resulted in nearly 5 million people benefiting from lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment; more than 15,000 U.S. schools building healthier learning environments; more than 51,000 micro-entrepreneurs, small business owners, and smallholder farmers improving their livelihoods and communities; and more than 248 million tons of CO2 being reduced in cities around the world. And President Clinton has redefined the way we think about giving and philanthropy through his Clinton Global Initiative, whose members have made more than 2,300 commitments that are improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit clintonfoundation.org, read our blog at clintonfoundation.org/upclose, and follow us on Twitter @ClintonTweet and Facebook at Facebook.com/BillClinton.

SOURCE Yunus Social Business



RELATED LINKS
http://www.yunussb.com
http://www.clintonfoundation.org

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