Magazine article International Trade Forum

... Bridge-Building from South to South: Haiti Is One of the Poorest Countries in the World. but with Support from ITC, It Is Helping Burundi to Enter the Global Market of Perfumes

Magazine article International Trade Forum

... Bridge-Building from South to South: Haiti Is One of the Poorest Countries in the World. but with Support from ITC, It Is Helping Burundi to Enter the Global Market of Perfumes

Article excerpt

A company in Haiti--one of the world's poorest and most troubled nations--is a major success on the international market. It is the biggest producer on the planet of a key ingredient of perfumes and industrial fragrances. An entrepreneur in Burundi, a central African country just coming out of a civil war, has found a way to build up his country's exports in the toughest conditions.

They are both success stories from the least developed countries (LDCs), the 49 states facing the hardest challenge to improve the lives of their populations. Today these LDC achievers are working together--brought together and supported in their collaboration by ITC--to expand the benefits to their local communities from international trade.

Pierre Leger, who took over the Frager essences firm in Haiti from his father, met Stanislas Habonimana, the head of Burundi's Rugofarm, at an ITC business round table held on the occasion of the Conference on the LDCs, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Brussels in 2001.

Patchouli and pepper

Rugofarm has created jobs for 1,000 people in a rural area by growing patchouli, citronella and bird's-eye chilli on some 1,500 hectares (3,750 acres). The quality of the patchouli is so high that a well-known French firm signed an exclusivity contract with Rugofarm to buy all the patchouli it can produce. All this in two years.

Leger was impressed by the Burundian's entrepreneurship and offered help to enable the African country boost its agricultural exports. Through Frager, Pierre Leger has long experience in working with local communities to build sustainable economies. Frager's employees are given a chance to participate in the running of the enterprise. The company does not own any of the land that supplies it with vetiver. It gets the roots used for producing perfume essence from local growers. Some 27,000 families supply Frager with vetiver for processing. This arrangement has allowed Frager to avoid debt from land purchases and has, as a consequence, allowed the company to concentrate on processing the root. But Leger also appreciates the importance of long-term and friendly relations with the people who form the core of his business. He takes part in harvesting and in the celebratory community get-togethers to sing traditional songs. He is also initiating his son into the business.

South helps South

In collaboration with ITC's LDC Unit, Rugofarm drew up a proposal.

"We worked closely with the Burundians and helped them to put together a project to develop essential oil exports by capitalizing on the strong international demand," says ITC Executive Director J. …

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