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Our Story


2007 – 2009

November 8, 2007 – Roots of Development was founded.

Roots’ original mission was to assist communities in the area of Gran Sous, the third communal section on the island of La Gonave, Haiti, as they developed and carried out projects to improve their lives. Soon after Roots’ founding, APDAG, The Peasant Association for the Development and Advancement of Gran Sous, was founded and became Roots’ first local partner.

APDAG and Roots worked to support eight communities and served approximately 10,000 of the island’s residents. APDAG also provided funding to three member groups that carried out independent projects elsewhere in the area. Roots supported APDAG through each step of their projects to develop skills and expand local capacity.

In January of 2009, Roots hired its first employee.

Proving the Model

2010 – 2012

January 12, 2010 – A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing hundreds of thousands of Haitians and destroying homes and buildings. Like many organizations in Haiti, Roots found itself needing to temporarily shift away from long-term development initiatives toward emergency response & relief. Together With APDAG, Roots began implementing food-distribution and house rebuilding programs.

Due to continuous crises, NGOs operating in Haiti often focus their time and resources on relief operations rather than long-term development. This undermines real progress and prevents Haiti from undergoing the changes that would make the next crisis less disastrous. This experience reaffirmed Roots’ conviction that long-term, community-led development must be the priority and is key to Haiti’s success.

Expanding our Reach

2013 – 2015

2013 – 2015 was a growth period for Roots, both in Haiti and the U.S. By 2013, Roots had reached more than 17,000 island residents through its work with APDAG. Projects included business ventures, new infrastructure, and community trainings.

In 2013, Roots partnered with Whole Foods to print reusable tote bags which were sold in 23 stores throughout the mid-Atlantic. Because of this campaign, Roots was able to reach more supporters in the U.S. and engage with a broader community about development without dependency.

In 2015, Roots left Gran Sous and moved to Anse-a-Galets, La Gonave’s largest town. While in Anse-a-Galets, Roots began establishing ties to more partners and leaders on the island, including the mayor of Anse-a-Galets. These relationships would help Roots grow and more firmly establish itself as a key La Gonave ally.

Shifting the Power

2018 – 2018

October 24, 2017 – Rasin Devlopman was officially founded, beginning a new era of Roots’ work on La Gonave. Rasin, an independent organization staffed, led, and operated by Haitians, would take over the on-the-ground work Roots had been doing for a decade.

Over the next months and years, Roots began transferring operational and programmatic responsibilities over to Rasin. In 2018, Rasin acquired its first office space on La Gonave and held its first official board meeting.

Rasin and Roots continued to develop their relationship with leaders like the mayor of Anse-a-Galets, who communicated his desire to create a communal development plan for the island. After Roots invited them to the island in 2018, the Pan-American Development Foundation agreed to work together with Rasin to facilitate the creation of a communal development plan for Anse-a-Galets through a project funded by USAID.

Deepening Our Roots

2019 – 2021

March 11, 2020 – The WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Organizations around the world had to shutter their operations to protect from the spread of the disease. Due to the community-led nature of their work, Rasin, with Roots’ support, was able to quickly and efficiently address the new and urgent needs of the community. They implemented public awareness campaigns and distributed emergency resources to help keep the island safe.

Despite the new challenges brought on by the pandemic, Rasin remained focused on its long-term development goals, and was able to expand operations in 2021. Rasin provided community leaders with over 60 hours of training, helped facilitate 11 development projects, added two new community initiatives, raised enough funds independently to cover their office rent in 2022, initiated the creation of a monitoring & evaluation system, and finalized La Gonave’s first communal development plan. They also began expanding into Pointe-a-Raquette, La Gonave’s other commune.

The Future

2023 & Beyond

Today, Roots of Development is emerging as a pioneer of a promising new era in international development that empowers those who are living in poverty to lead the fight against it.

With Rasin stronger and more independent than ever, Roots is looking to replicate its unique role elsewhere in the world. Roots has begun engaging with community-based organizations in other countries, with the goal of creating a network of like-minded organizations committed to and practicing development without dependency.

In Haiti, Roots and Rasin are working together to build the La Gonave Community Leadership & Development Center. The center will not only be an office space and training facility for Rasin, but a place where community-led development practitioners from around the world can come together to share best practices and learn from one another.

The center is a key part of our vision to make community-led development and Development without Dependency the gold standard of development around the world.

Help us fight for a development that is more

sustainable and respectful.

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