Dear Wyclef: Do Business, Go Green

09/24/2010 02:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sorry to hear about your presidential bid in Haiti. I can understand if you are still angry that you have been denied a chance to provide the leadership you believe could help pull your country out from beneath the rubble.

Also, props for your clear, 7-topic focus for Haiti's reconstruction outlined in a piece published here at Huff Post recently. Your policy aims are right on, and you have a long-term view of how to promote Haiti's reconstruction.

However, you end with a truism: "if I were president." You are not, and you will not be soon. So in the mean time, I say it's time to move on. Now.

Instead of focusing on making a difference in Haiti through the public sector, why not try the private? In the private sector, you just need a good idea, some money to start, and people to buy your product. As I am pretty sure you have some dough saved up from making music with the Fugees, let me tell you about some good social enterprise ideas, and who might find these ideas particularly appealing in Haiti.

Recycling. The streets of Port Au Prince, and other urban centers in Haiti like Cap Haitien and Gonaives are littered with plastic, cardboard and Styrofoam containers due to a lack of public waste management services. Drainage canals clog causing floods, water contamination hazards and general health problems.

Start a private recycling industry, and build a few recycling centers in key areas in the country. Coca Cola has bottling partner in the Dominican Republic, not to mention the Couronne bottling plant in Port Au Prince.

The best part of this strategy is that you can effectively create long term jobs for several Haitians, and not only for those working in the recycling plants. Put a small price on all glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard brought to the recycling plant. Pay the people to clean up their city. It will encourage communities to form their own waste management plans, it will employ those without work and it will drive a private enterprise that has a lot of potential. Once the recycling operation proves to work, a soft drink giant or two might be enticed to build new bottling plants in Port Au Prince.

Or how about a different kind of recycling? Go into the concrete business. Large-scale solutions are needed to deal with the quantity of concrete that fills Port Au Prince, Leogane, Petit Goave and Grand Goave among other areas afflicted by the January 12 earthquake. The first step to rebuilding the infrastructure of Haiti's crumbled cities is to remove the fallen concrete and metal rubble from streets, homes and neighborhoods. The next step will be to rebuild Haiti's decaying road systems and neighborhoods. What's needed for both? Concrete aggregate.

It's not the sexiest business to go into, but demand for concrete aggregate fill to lay base layers of new roads and properties is going to be high in the coming years. Instead of digging out of mountains and creating further environmental damage to an already degraded landscape, why not use a readily available resource covering the areas where future construction will happen? Seems like another win-win for you, Wyclef.

Who says "Green" wont work in a place like Haiti? I can't keep track of how many people have asked me, "how can we focus on the environment in a place where over half the population is unemployed, where about 55% of the population is making less than $1.25 a day?" Well, there's money to be made in the green movement too. There are jobs to be created. Environmental and development strategies must go hand in hand if we are to build a sustainable society. They must go hand in hand if wish to see Haiti flourish in a generation after such a painful past.

What do you say Wyclef? The NGOs can't do it all. Haiti needs endemic business with Haitian leadership, as you clearly stated in your September 23 piece. Stop dissing Sean Penn for attention. Let go of the presidential bid rejection. Let's make some real change.