Once upon a time, Haiti was called the Jewel of the Antilles because it was the richest colony in the world. However, much of this wealth was built through slave labor, and the roots of Haiti’s French colonial past put in place a caste system of the “elites and noirs,” which grew into the socioeconomic disparity that Haiti struggles with today. The richest Haitian families hold most of the wealth, while a much larger portion of the population struggles with poverty, resulting in food insecurity, health problems, and educational deficiency.
Haiti is a country full of robust traditions and promises; it is full of impressive mountain peaks, beaches with clear blue water, and resilient people who keep the spirit of Haiti alive even in trying times. Unfortunately, issues such as social unrest, natural disasters, political corruption, and foreign intervention have made it hard for Haiti to develop.
Despite the overwhelming hardships Haitians face, there are examples of people who have earned millions or even billions of dollars. These nine richest people in Haiti represent some of Haiti’s biggest names in politics, business, and culture.
Creating a list with the most accurate goal was our priority. While there was no way we could ascertain exact numbers, our detailed information allowed us to come as close as humanly possible.
We started the process by researching the most prominent figures in Haiti and then analyzing their potential finances. We then used publicly available information, such as business assets, stock ownership, property, etc. Public asset valuation is useful for figures who have a lot of wealth in public companies. Most wealthy people use diversified holdings, meaning they invest and dynamically utilize their money rather than just keeping it in the bank, which allows us to not only assess public holdings but estimate private assets based on insider information, comparative assets, and self-disclosure. These techniques allowed us to add values for each person on the list.
Some resources that helped make the process reliable and cohesive include:
- Comparisons to people in similar industry positions
- Comparative asset valuation
- Government data
- Public filings
- Relevant news reports
- Academic studies
- Statements made by figures on the list and related parties
- Historic and cultural sources
9. Michel Joseph Martelly Net Worth – $5 million
Michel Joseph Martelly is the son of Gerard and Marie Martelly. he was born in Haiti, and spent time moving from Haiti to the United States. He spent a great deal of time in Florida. He had a passion for music, but he made a name for himself more so in the political sphere.
He returned to Haiti at the time when Jean Claude Duvalier was going into exile. Martelly was the president of Haiti prior to leaving. He was succeeded by Jocelerme Privert who took his place as interim president when Martelly was forced to resign amid allegations that he had committed fraud during the elections. This made it necessary for elections to be redone after audits found inconsistencies.
Martelly’s sordid history may make it hard for him to bolster his net worth as much as he may want to, but with around $5 million to his name, he likely won’t face financial ruin in the near future.
8. Philippe Dodard Net Worth – $102 million
Financial estimates by Face 2 Face Africa show that artists don’t always have to be starving artists. Philippe Dodard is a graphic artist and painter from Haiti, who is the ninth richest person in the country with a net worth of $102 million. Mr. Dodard was born in 1954 in Port-au-Prince. Dodard attended the PotoMitan art school with Frido Casimir, Patrick Vilarie, and Tiga Garoute. he won first prize at the Junior Seminary of St. Martial College in 1966 for one of his drawings.
He also attended the Academy of Fine Arts in 1973. He worked as a model maker for a while, then launched his own audiovisual graphic arts studio. He specializes in Graphic Design Pedagogy. In addition to being a painter, sculptor, ironworker, and jewelry maker, he also tours to provide lectures on Haitian culture.
If you’re wondering how an artist made it so big, he was trained as an accountant, so he knows his way around money and can make the most of what he earns. As both an artist and an entrepreneur, Dodard has always wanted to help art students develop and grow in their crafts.
7. Clifford Apaid Net Worth – $350 million
Worth about $350 million, Clifford Apaid is part of one of Haiti’s richest families, who own multiple garment factories. Apaid attended Florida International University earning his bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Management, as well as a degree in Finance. He also earned a master’s degree in International Finance.
Mr. Apaid is the vice president of the Apaid Group, in the manufacturing division. He also serves on the board of directors for the SOFIHDES Development Bank in Haiti and is on the board of the Haitian Association of Industries. He also manages the business affairs for the company in the United States as well as in the Dominican Republic.
While family connections have earned Apaid some of his money, he has taken many steps to develop his business knowledge and learn the ropes of being a powerful businessman.
6. Marc Antoine Acra Net Worth – $600 Million
From the time he was young, Marc Antoine Acra had an interest in starting his own businesses and learning how to be the best entrepreneur possible. He was encouraged by his family business Industries ACRA, which was founded by his father and has been a prominent business for decades in Haiti.
Marc Antoine Acra is a resident of Haiti known for his import and export company that does an annual business of $10 million in generating income. Although he is a Haitian businessman and philanthropist, he attended Boston University, studying finance and marketing. He also attended MIT and has become an expert in management, sales, and marketing.
5. Reginald Pierre Bolous Net Worth – $620 million
Born in the United States in 1956 to Carlos and Aimee Boulos, Eric Reginald Bolous is a physician as well as an entrepreneur, businessman, and philanthropist. Bolous has an estimated net worth of $620 million.
Bolous may not have grown up in Haiti, but he had generations of familial connection to Haiti as a third-generation resident of Haiti with Lebanese/Haitian ancestry. He now considers the country his home. Some of his higher education took place in the States, but he earned his medical degree from Port-au-Prince school in 1981, alongside his brother.
He began his career as a doctor with a special interest in public health, but in 1996, he chose to focus on business instead, which proved to be incredibly lucrative. He showed his business skills as the former president of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Haiti. He also owns businesses that operate in the chain-store industry.
4. Jean Bertrand Aristide Net Worth – $800 million
Jean Bertrand Aristide is a well-known Haitian politician who was born in Port Salut, Haiti in July of 1953. He is a Salesian order Roman Catholic priest as well as a politician. Aristide has made a name for himself representing the people of Haiti who suffer poverty and who are marginalized by the elite. Hean became the president of Haiti in 1991, and as the first democratically elected president, he is a major name in history.
After being elected, he had a short term in office, he was ousted by a coup in September 1991, but he returned to office from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2004. He was absent from Haiti for seven years after being exiled to South Africa and the Central African Republic after a 2004 coup d’état but was able to return to Haiti in 2011.
Despite the many hardships he has faced he has managed to push himself to be his best and is worth an estimated $800 million.
3. Gregory Mevs Net Worth – $1 billion
Gregory Mevs and his family are among the richest people in Haiti, his family being one of six elite families known for having momentous impacts on Haiti’s economy. The Mevs family has interests in various industries throughout Haiti, such as Shodecosa, which is the largest industrial park in Haiti and is a warehouse for over 90% of Haiti’s imported food. Mevs has taken lessons from his wealthy family and has applied his education from the University of Miami to be a better business person.
Mevs has expanded his interests and works in several areas to diversify his profile. Gregory Mevs owns one of the largest conglomerates in the Caribbean with holdings under the WIN Group. His interests include baseball manufacturing, a $10 million cement plant in Haiti, cooking oils, industrial parks, and other industries including warehousing and industry.
Set up for success from birth, Mevs has built on what his family gave him to become a billionaire. He’s also benefitted from close connections to Haitian politicians, Bill Clinton, George Soros, and major executives around the world.
2. Gilbert Bigio Net Worth – $1.2 billion
Although Gilbert Bigio is a retired businessman, as one of a few Haitian billionaires, Bigio has a huge nest egg to live the rest of his life full of luxury. He’s one of the wealthiest and most known oligarchs in Haiti, no doubt because of his enormous wealth. His business ventures have been varied, but one of his main ventures was establishing the GB Group which has prospered and grown to make him the second richest man in Haiti.
His family emigrated to the country of Haiti in 1896, and Bigio is a native Haitian. However, that doesn’t mean he is only a domestic figure. He has often drawn international attention, such as facing economic sanctions by Canada because he leveraged his economic status to enable gangs and their illegal activities.
While he has encountered plenty of scandal and criticism, Bigio continues to be a Haitian leader, even as an octogenarian. He is the leader of the Haitian Jewish Community and serves as an honorary consul to the nation of Israel.
1. Denis O’Brien Net Worth – $6.8 billion
Though not a Haiti native, Denis O’Brien is Haiti’s richest man. Born in 1958 in Cork, Ireland, O’Brien learned from his dad how to make sales and do good business. As the richest person in Haiti, O’Brien may have Irish roots, but he has certainly made a lot of contributions to Haiti’s economy.
O’Brien made billions of dollars through his investments in Digicel, the largest telecom company in Haiti. He went from nearly nothing to a large fortune with a near-monopoly on the Haitian phone market. He has expanded to other industries, such as utility support, healthcare, football, aircraft leasing, and petroleum. Thus, he’s got a lot going on to earn himself more money.
There aren’t a lot of billionaires in Haiti, but as this list shows, there are multiple billionaires in Haiti, and it’s possible some Haitians on this list will build their net worth even higher and enter the billionaire club.
While there are rich people in Haiti, Haiti is generally more known for its intense poverty. UNICEF’s 2023 Humanitarian Action for Children Report on Haiti estimates that about 59 percent of the entire population lives below the poverty line, contributing to Haiti being ranked 163 out of 191 on the UN’s 2021-2022 Human Development Index. There is limited data on the rich of Haiti, but it’s estimated that only several thousand people can be considered rich in Haiti.
The rich live in various communities, but many of them live in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, or the surrounding suburbs. Petionville, for example, is known for being home to the majority of the Haitian elite. However, there are areas of Petionville that aren’t as prosperous.
There are multiple rich communities within Haiti, but Port-au-Prince arrondissement, Delmas, is known for its wealth and has become the richest city in Haiti, according to World Atlas.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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